Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Conference and Training Room, Breckland Leisure Centre, Croxton Road, Thetford

Contact: Member Services, Breckland Council  Tel: 01362 656870

No. Item


Chairman and Vice-Chairman

To appoint a Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the ensuing year.


The terms of reference of the Joint Committee stipulate that


  1. The persons eligible to be elected as Chairman shall not be the appointees of a Council whose appointee held that position in either of the two previous years.


  1. The persons eligible to be elected as Vice-Chairman shall not be the appointees of a Council whose appointee held that position in the previous year.


  1. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman shall not be appointees of the same Council.


Previous appointments have been as follows:




Office Held


Mr S. Edwards

(Forest Heath)



Mr P. Claussen




Mr P. Claussen




Mr G. Wilson

(East Cambs)



Mr G. Wilson

(East Cambs)



Mr E. Steward

(Forest Heath)



Mr E. Steward

(Forest Heath)



Mr P. Claussen





RESOLVED that Mr P D Claussen be elected Chairman of the Joint Committee for the ensuing year and Mr F Brown be elected Vice-Chairman.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2010.


Subject to an amendment, moving Mr D Ablett from ‘Present’ to ‘In Attendance’, the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2010 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mr A Claydon and Mr S Edwards.


Apologies for absence were later received from Mr F Brown and Mr J Hill.


Urgent Business

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any items of urgent business pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.




Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal and/or prejudicial interest.


No declarations were made.


Performance Report (Standing Item)

Reports of the Operational Board:


Operational Performance pdf icon PDF 125 KB


The Support Services Manager presented the report.


All indicators were green.


The NI181 annual target for Breckland had been amended from nine to five days, as requested by the Breckland Council Performance Clinic.  The Strategic Manager accepted that this performance would need to be across all partner authorities. 


In response to a question from the Chairman asking if this was a realistic target, bearing in mind the future work needed to bring St Edmundsbury into the partnership.  The Strategic Manager (ARP) said that although it would be difficult the ARP team strive to make the target, however there was a possibility that it might not be achieved.


It was noted that there was still no explanation of the units used in the tables and the Strategic Manager apologised and agreed to alter ‘time’ to ‘days’ in future reports.


The performance report for the period ending in April showed Forest Heath to be slightly below target.  However, the May figures showed that the collection was now above target.  This improvement in Forest Heath’s Council Tax collection figures was commended.


The new website had not yet been publicised, but posters had been sent out to Front Offices and a press release was being prepared.


It was agreed that an update on this matter would be given at the next meeting.<1>


The report was noted.


Financial Performance as at 31 March 2010 pdf icon PDF 33 KB


The report was noted.



Annual Statement of Accounts 2009-10


Un-Audited Statement of Accounts 2009/10 pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report by the Head of Finance (Mark Finch).

Additional documents:


The Head of Finance (Breckland) presented the report.


In accordance with Account and Audit regulations the accounts and the annual governance statement were required to be approved by 30 June 2010.  Issues raised in the last auditor’s report had been addressed.   There had also been changes to the methodology used in preparing the accounts.  The variance between budget and outturn showed a significant efficiency achieved through joint working.


One error was noted on page 32, in the final sentence of section 2, the date should read 31 March 2010.


The Head of Finance drew attention to the Core Accounting Statements on page 35 of the report.  Net expenditure was marginally down despite increases in caseload.  The DWP Grant had helped to offset expenditure.


On page 36 he pointed out that there was no General Fund balance.  The Joint Committee did not have any assets and all reserves had been used which simplified the accounts.


The Officer’s remuneration figures needed to be added at page 41.


Subject to that change and the other minor amendment noted the Joint Committee were invited to approve the accounts.




(1)               approve the un audited statement of accounts; and

(2)               approve the annual governance statement.



Budget Surplus Report pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Report of the Support Services Manager (Rod Urquhart).

Additional documents:


The Support Services Manager presented the report which sought approval to redistribute the balance of the budget surplus to Breckland and Forest Heath District Councils.


The Partnership had made significant savings by seconding staff and resources to the trading arm and getting money back to redistribute to Partners.


The Chairman invited the Breckland Chief Executive to explain the future potential of the Partnership.


Trevor Holden advised the Committee that he would soon be leaving Breckland to take up an appointment as Chief Executive at Luton.  Luton Council owned Luton Airport and they operated it through a wholly owned company.  Profits made by that company were distributed as grants through a charitable trust which attracted tax benefits.


He was also aware that two local authorities in Lincolnshire had formed a partnership for back-office functions which also operated as a wholly owned trading company which traded back to the partnership.


When the ARP Joint Committee was formed the Councils had been advised that they could not operate in that way without going through a formal tender process.  As the regulations seemed to have changed, he suggested that it might be worth investigating the merits of becoming a wholly owned company, through a feasibility study.


David Burnip, the Chief Executive of Forest Heath, agreed that this was an interesting prospect but it needed further investigation.  He was concerned that a potential ‘show-stopper’ was that the company did not trade back solely to the Partnership, but also to Welwyn and Hatfield and possibly to others in the future.


It was considered that further cautious investigation should take place into this matter.




(1)               note the contents of the report; and

(2)               approve the re-distribution of the surplus to the partner authorities.



ARP Risk Register pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Report by the Principal Benefits Officer (Kate Dann).

Additional documents:


In the absence of the report author the Strategic Manager (ARP) presented the report.


She noted that if it was agreed to admit East Cambridgeshire into the Partnership this would reduce the likelihood of the risk at No 2 in the table happening.


The report was noted.



Value for Money Report pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Report of the Strategic Manager (Sharon Jones).


The Strategic Manager (ARP) presented the report which had been written in response to the presentation by Paul Byrne at the March 2010 meeting, addressing each of the points raised by him.


The following areas had been addressed:


§                     work was progressing on adopting a new partner

§                     all processes were being reviewed

§                     a new ICT provider was being investigated

§                     the website had been updated and was now more customer friendly and allowed claims to be completed on-line

§                     home visits were being made

§                     performance had improved


Other areas were still outstanding and an update on those would be given to the next meeting.<1>


The recommendation was that the contents of the report be monitored.  It was clarified that the Joint Committee would be the monitors and it was therefore suggested that Value for Money should become a standing item on the agenda, which would provide Members with an opportunity to put forward suggestions.


The report was noted.



ICT Provision and Support for ARP pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Report of the Operational Board.


The Support Services Manager presented the report.


The Partnership currently received IT support from Steria through a Breckland Council contract.  That contract would expire on 31 March 2011.  Preliminary discussions had commenced between Breckland and Forest Heath to investigate the possibility of providing In-House IT support.  Early indications showed that this could create significant savings.


The timescales for switching supplier were tight.  The Support Services Manager sought approval to create a project team to prepare a paper with costings for the September meeting. 


Members discussed the way forward and it was suggested that delegated authority should be given to a group of officers to progress this matter.  Members should also be given the opportunity to provide input to that group.


RESOLVED that delegated authority be granted to the Partners’ Section 151 Officers, ICT Managers and the ARP Strategic Manager to undertake an options appraisal and report back to the Joint Committee.



Audit Plan 2009/10 pdf icon PDF 249 KB

Report of the Audit Commission.


In the absence of an Audit Commission representative, the Breckland Head of Finance presented the report.


He drew attention to the key milestones on page 63 of the report and noted that the Auditor’s fee was £12,000 and their conclusions were expected at the end of September.


A Member suggested that as the CAA was gone, the audit plan was no longer valid. 


RESOLVED that the Section 151 Officer should write to the Audit Commission to question the plan as part of it was no longer relevant.



Frequently Asked Questions on Council Tax

Verbal report by Lesley Walker.


A handout prepared by the Principal Income Officer (ARP) was tabled.


Members were asked to provide feedback, not just on this Council Tax handout, but on Revenues and Benefits in general, so that Officers could produce other information as required.



Forthcoming Issues (Standing Item)

To note any items.


No new items were noted.



Next Meeting

An additional meeting to discuss the St Edmundsbury Council proposal has been arranged for………………


The next ordinary meeting will be held on Thursday, 9 September 2010 at 4.00pm, venue to be arranged.


An additional meeting had been arranged on 1 July 2010, to discuss the adoption of another Partner.  The meeting was scheduled to start at 4.30pm but no venue had yet been confirmed.


It was noted that Forest Heath could provide a venue if required.


The next scheduled meeting would be on Thursday 9 September 2010 at 4.00pm, venue to be confirmed.




Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider passing the following resolution:


“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act.”


RESOLVED that under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involved the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.



Proposal to Vary the Terms of Membership - East Cambridgeshire District Council

Report of the Strategic Director (Resources) (Forest Heath DC), Andrew Claydon.

Additional documents:


This item had been moved below the line as it contained exempt information.


Members were unanimous in agreeing with the proposal to adopt East Cambridgeshire as a full partner. 


They resolved to:


RECOMMEND to each of the Partner Councils that:


(1)               East Cambridgeshire be adopted as a full partner of the ARP Joint Committee with the following split of risk and reward:


Breckland                   48%

East Cambs              28%

Forest Heath              24%


(2)               the split to be expressed as a whole number and monitored every two years on that basis.  No variation under 1% should trigger a change;


(3)               withdrawal from the Partnership should require a two year notice period and:


i)                    prior to giving formal notice, the relevant party would be required to serve a “Statement of Intent” setting out the reasons underlying their intention to leave the partnership;

ii)                  an extraordinary general meeting should then be called, to take place within 28 days of receipt of the “Statement of Intent”; partners to use the meeting to explore the potential to address any causes for concern or improved outcomes cited by the relevant party;

iii)                unless all parties agree, at the meeting, an action plan to address the issues identified in the “Statement of Intent”, the relevant party can then formally serve notice.


(4)               an Operational Improvement Board (OIM) be set up, consisting of the ARP Strategy Manager and the designated lead officers from each member body.  Minutes of the OIM Board meetings to be presented to the Joint Committee with any recommendations and reports;


(5)               a small budget be made available to facilitate the new Partnership if necessary, inclusive of any external legal fees; and


(6)               an aspirational start date of 1st October 2010 be set for the new Partnership to commence.



Position Statement on work with other Authorities (Standing Item)

Report of the Strategic Manager.


Updates had been given during discussions on previous items.