Agenda and minutes

Venue: Norfolk Room, The Committee Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2009.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2009 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

2.

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Mr R Goreham.

3.

Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting (Agenda item 5)

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

Minutes:

Mrs D. Irving and Mr P. Cowen.

4.

Budget Setting Report - Estimates 2010/11 (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 229 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Governance & Corporate Development Portfolio (William Smith).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director for Governance and Finance presented the report.

 

The budget setting report had been approved for consultation at the Cabinet meeting on 27th October 2009.  The period of consultation had now concluded and Members were being asked to consider the revised budget proposals for 2010/11 and the indicative budget through to 2014/15.

 

The report reflected the views of Officers, Members and the public who had provided feedback through a substantial consultation exercise.

 

Officers had been asked to prepare a budget setting report, which was as clear and easy to understand as Local Government allowed, a report that was clearly married to other elements of the Council’s Performance and Policy Framework and, in comparison to other years, a much closer alignment to the Council’s Annual Delivery Plans to ensure that our resources clearly supported its priorities.

 

There had been many challenges in trying to set such a robust budget and it was accepted that the turbulence within the economy would no doubt require the Council to adjust its budgetary assumptions during the year ahead.

 

The Director of Governance and Finance elaborated and emphasised the difficulties that had been placed upon the Council - the lowering of the base rate, the uncertain position of investments placed within institutions that had found themselves in financial difficulties and the public sector spending deficit which would require the Council’s finances to be reshaped for possibly many years to come.

 

The financial performance of the Council in prior years had been sound and had led to adequate balances which had assisted the setting of a robust budget.  Government’s expectations to become more efficient had been recognised and the Council already had plans in place to react as necessary to ensure its budgets remained sustainable.

 

The key elements of the budget had been well rehearsed and the requirements of the Local Government Act 2003 had been met.  The Director of Governance and Finance was content that the Council’s budget was sound and robust and had adequate levels of reserves.

 

If Council approved the budget, there would be a spend increase of £253,000 to £14.4m.  This would give rise to a Breckland precept of £2.7m which equated to a Band D Council Tax of £64.05; a percentage increase of 0%. This charge remained the lowest of any District in England and formed only 4% of the total Council Tax collected from Breckland residents.

 

The budget report demonstrated the thorough work that Officers had undertaken to produce a comprehensive approach to budget setting.

 

The recommendations to Council were highlighted at section 21 of the report.

 

The Chairman supported the budget proposals and commended the exemplary report.

 

The Vice Chairman echoed what had been said about the Officers and thanked the Chief Executive and the staff involved for all their hard work over the past 12 months.

 

He mentioned the very positive response that the Council had received from the Audit Commission. Analysis of the recent Place Survey showed that out of 201 districts, Breckland Council had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Council Enforcement Policy (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Planning, Health & Housing Portfolio (Paul Claussen).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Principal Environmental Health Officer presented the report which recommended the approval and adoption of the revised Enforcement Policy.

 

Members noted that the Council now had a Policy that could be used to ensure that all enforcement actions were both fair and consistent.

 

The Vice-Chairman asked how the Council went about ensuring the safety of Officers visiting establishments.  Members were advised that the Council operated a booking out system which was monitored by the Environmental Health Team.  The Officer would be accompanied by colleagues or the Police if there were any serious situations that had to be dealt with.

 

Options

 

To accept/reject or make amendments to the Policy.

 

Reasons

 

The Policy had been revised to take account of current requirements and would be reviewed annually.  Revisions had been made following discussion of the report at the Executive Board meeting on 14 December 2009.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that the revised Breckland Council Corporate Enforcement Policy be adopted

6.

St Mary the Less, Thetford (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Planning, Health & Housing Portfolio (Paul Claussen).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The purpose of the report was to secure funding to enable the preservation of the redundant church of St Mary the Less, Old Bury Road, Thetford, a Grade ll Listed Building, which had been included on both English Heritage’s and the Norfolk County Council’s registers of Listed Buildings at Risk.

 

A revised Proforma B was circulated.

 

Quotes had been prepared to ensure the preservation of the building.

 

The Historic Buildings Officer provided Members with the background of how the Church had resulted in such a state of unacceptable decline. The building was now considered to be more at risk since the collapse of a large section of roof before Christmas which had exposed parts of the aisles. The Secretary of State would also be informed of this matter.

 

Members were informed that English Heritage had offered its assistance subject to a successful application.  If successful, a Section 54 Notice would be served on the current owner of the Church.  The Council would seek to recover costs from the owner if such an Order was served.  There was a risk that this money would be irrecoverable and, therefore, the Cabinet was being asked to recommend to Council the authorisation of funds to enable the works to be carried out.

 

Mr D Jeffrey from the Thetford Society was in attendance.  He asked what would happen if the application to English Heritage was unsuccessful.  In response, the Historic Buildings Officer advised that a further report would have to be brought back to Cabinet.

 

The Chief Executive pointed out that all matters had been covered in the context of the report.  However, he felt that it would be extremely unfortunate and a highly unlikely scenario for the aforementioned circumstances to prevail.

 

The Vice-Chairman felt that our heritage was crucial and it was imperative that this link to the past was preserved.  He deplored the current state of the building but felt that the Council, in these circumstances, had a duty to protect and preserve English Heritage; it also had a duty to protect the public purse.  He felt the current owner should be ashamed for not looking after the building and allowing the planning permission to lapse.  He did have concerns, however, about the church’s long term viability.

 

The Chairman agreed that the owner should honour his commitments and proposed that the Council’s Legal Team be instructed to pursue the owner to recover any costs associated with the Section 54 Notice.  He hoped that this would lead to the owner meeting his own responsibilities.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman said that it was encumbent on this authority to pursue the repairs.  This might encourage the owner to continue with the work once the remedial works had been carried out.  Thetford would see significant growth and investment in the future so it was imperative that the older buildings in the town were maintained.

 

The recommendations, including the additional recommendation to pursue legal action to recover all costs (if necessary), were supported.

 

Options

 

1.            Following authorisation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 3 December 2009.

Minutes:

a)           Budget 2010-11 (ARP Minute No. 54/09)

 

RESOLVED that the relevant part of the ARP partnership budget relating to Breckland Council’s budget be adopted.

 

b)           Minutes

 

The Minutes of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership Joint Committee were noted.

8.

Business Improvement Sub-Committee: 1 December 2009 (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Minutes of the Business Improvement Board Sub-Committee meeting held on 1 December 2009.

Minutes:

The Vice-Chairman drew Members’ attention to Minute No. 41/09. He congratulated the Business Improvement Team for the work it had done with regard to the council tax – benefit realisation status.  He pointed out that before this project started the level of calls that could be dealt with at the first point of contact by the Contact Centre was only 29%.  This project was now delivering benefits with over 90% of the calls being taken resulting in a huge reduction in calls to the back office Revenues Team.

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Business Improvement Sub-Committee meeting held on 1 December 2009 be adopted.

9.

Next Meeting (Agenda item 12)

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 9.30am in the Norfolk Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham.

Minutes:

The next meeting of the Cabinet would be held on Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 9.30am in the Norfolk Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham.