Agenda and minutes

Venue: THIS MEETING IS IN LINE WITH THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND POLICE AND CRIME PANELS (CORONAVIRUS) (FLEXIBILITY OF LOCAL AUTHORITY AND POLICE AND CRIME PANEL MEETINGS) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2020

Items
No. Item

37/20

Minutes pdf icon PDF 149 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 1 June 2020.

Minutes:

It was noted that Councillor Terry had been omitted as being present at the meeting.

 

Subject to this amendment, the minutes of the meeting held on 1 June 2020 were confirmed as a correct record.

38/20

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

None.

39/20

Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

None.

40/20

Declaration of Interests

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.

 

Minutes:

None.

41/20

Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members who wish to address the meeting.

Minutes:

Councillors Atterwill, Birt, Bushell, M Chapman-Allen, Clarke, Crane, Duigan, Eagle, Jermy, Kiddle-Morris, Morton, Terry.

42/20

Chairman's Announcements (If Any)

Minutes:

None.

43/20

Breckland Community Funding Applications (Standing Item)

To consider the grants put forward (if any). 

Minutes:

Nothing to report.

44/20

Breckland Sustainability Strategy (Standing Item)

To receive a verbal update from Executive Member for Customer Engagement and Member Champion for Breckland Sustainability Strategy, Councillor Ian Sherwood.

 

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Customer Engagement presented highlights to Members on some initiatives that had been announced by the Chancellor recently.  Whilst more information would follow, he had tasked Officers to consider how Breckland could benefit and feature as part of the climate action.  The Schemes included:

-        £2 billion Green Homes Grant,

-        £1 billion over the coming year for a Public sector decarbonisation scheme, 

-        £40 million in a Green Jobs Challenge Fund

-        Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund

 

At a local level, Breckland Council had been taking steps to create more bee friendly habitats across the district by leaving some verges and land to grow wild, where safe to do so, allowing population of bees and other insects to boost their numbers.

 

As part of the Council’s new Local Plan policies advice for developers included the use of bird boxes and bee or swift bricks into housing plans to boost the districts biodiversity.

 

The Executive Member had attended a positive meeting with the Woodland Trust and had learnt about canopy cover. Canopy Cover looked at what was already within the District, which was built into a sustainable future by caring for what was already in the District.

 

The Council was currently requesting quotes from organisations to undertake a carbon audit of the organisation to help develop a carbon management plan that would help to reduce the carbon footprint as an organisation, and understand how the Council could encourage residents and businesses to improve their carbon footprint too.

 

The Executive Member was pleased to announce that Breckland Council would also be making a switch to green energy that would significantly reduce the organisational carbon footprint and would come into effect from the 1 October 2020. 

 

The Executive Member for Contracts and Assets had already tasked the commercial team where they could add to the environmental initiatives that had been announced by the Chancellor and would work closely with Councillor Sherwood to do everything it could to encourage the commercial portfolio to be as environmentally friendly as they could be.

 

Councillor Atterwill welcomed what the Executive Member had said regarding the nest boxes and the initiative to help the bees and asked the Executive Member for Planning that when planning conditions were granted through the permission given if the conditions would be monitored to ensure the developers complied with the conditions. 

The Executive Member for Planning confirmed that he would arrange for a written response to be sent to Councillor Atterwill. 

 

Councillor Eagle asked that since Breckland had such a diverse area, including some rare species he would like to see other Councils follow Breckland’s lead on the sustainability strategy.  The Executive Member for Customer Engagement agreed and also felt it important that the Council got the policy right which was why the audit was taking place that included speaking to the experts to ensure it had a full picture of the diverse area that Breckland covered. 

 

Councillor Morton was pleased to note that a carbon audit would be undertaken  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44/20

45/20

2019-20 Full Year financial Performance pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report by Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance and Growth presented the report that provided information on the Council’s actual full year financial position as at 31 March 2020.

 

He thanked the Finance team for the work put in to deliver the report, especially during the period between March to the end of June where Officers had been redeployed to support the businesses of Breckland.

 

The Executive Member highlighted whilst the Council had an overspend of £224k, it was in a fortunate position to be able to use reserves to mitigate some of those costs which were explained in the report.

 

The report explained that due to the high overspend, the gain from the National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR) pilot of £559k had been utilised to cover that overspend, and therefore due to the scale of the figure it would have to go to Full Council to be approved.

 

Whilst the Council had a reserve fund of just under £7m that was unallocated, the Council’s general fund was already at the minimum of £2,500k which he did not want to see drop below that figure.

 

The actual Capital out-turn showed a spend of 71% against budget which meant the Council had not used all the capital that had been set aside in the financial year to deal with various programmes and projects that were ongoing.

 

The Executive Member for Contracts and Assets said it was a delicate balancing act, and within his portfolio economic growth would allow the businesses within Breckland to thrive as the country started to emerge out of the COVID19 crisis.  At the same time COVID19 has had a global impact and the District would not be immune to that impact.  He was in agreement with the recommendations and believed it was the correct approach for the Council to follow.

 

Councillor Birt considered the significant variances and highlighted the Legal Services overspend and was concerned that there were issues with commercial property and asked how, as a Member, he could understand the detail of that overspend and what the issues were, as there could be scrutiny issues to consider.

In addition, in respect of the capital that had not been spent, he noted that the report was dated to 31 March, and therefore the COVID19 crisis did not apply and he was concerned that if the Council was not spending capital that had been allocated during normal times what would happen in extra-ordinary times such as the Council found itself in now.

 

Councillor Jermy was concerned about the level of overspend and in particular the expenditure of the temporary housing accommodation.  In addition, he raised apprehension that the new property currently being refurbished would do little to reduce costs as it would not be able to take the numbers that the Council would require.  He went onto ask the Cabinet for their plans to address the increased housing costs, given that they were a significant amount.

 

The Executive Member for Finance and Growth responded to Councillor Birt that he too had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45/20

46/20

Innovative Projects Fund - acceptance and spend of grant, and associated match funding. pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Report by Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance and Growth presented the report that sought the recommendation to Council to accept and spend a grant award from the Innovative Projects Fund along with associated match funding, on behalf of the Cambridge-Norwich Tech Corridor (CNTC) for carrying out an exercise aimed at supporting and growing the manufacturing and engineering industry within the area.

 

It was important that the Council worked with all businesses within the District to drive forward the economy in a direction that would see an improvement in the standard of living of residents throughout the county, but more importantly given the tech corridor runs through our District. 

 

Reasons for recommendation:

Acceptance of the grant funding would enable the completion of the project in line with the application submitted and the conditions of the funding awarded. Doing this at the earliest opportunity would enable the project to proceed as quickly as possible and thus maximise the benefits that were anticipated to be delivered.

 

Delaying the decision, or not accepting the grant funding on behalf of the CNTC, would result in a significant adverse impact upon the delivery of the project and therefore all of the manufacturing businesses throughout the region.

 

Options

Option 1 – Accept and spend the IPF grant, and associated match funding, on behalf of the CNTC (Recommended). Under this option, the authority will accept and spend £180,700 of IPF grant from NALEP, £10,000 match funding from Norfolk County Council (NCC) and £9,500 match funding from the University of East Anglia (UEA), on behalf of the CNTC in order that the project can proceed.

 

Option 2 – Do not accept the IPF grant, and associated match funding, on behalf of the CNTC (Not recommended). Under this option, the project would not proceed.  The Council is the Accountable Body for the CNTC and therefore it is only the council that could accept the funding on behalf of the CNTC. 

 

RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to FULL COUNCIL:

 

1)     To approve acceptance and spending of an Innovative Projects Fund grant to the value of £180,700, and associated financial contributions of £19,500, in order to support the delivery of an exercise aimed at growing the manufacturing industry in the area, as set out within this report.

 

2)     Delegate authority to the Chief Executive to sign the grant offer letters in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth.

 

47/20

Next Meeting

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Monday, 7 September 2020. 

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on 7 September at 9.30am were noted.