Agenda and minutes

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

Items
No. Item

67.

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, 8 June 2010.

Minutes:

Adrian Stasiak in the Chair

 

The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 June 2010 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

68.

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr W Nunn and Mr R Goreham.

69.

Urgent Business - Opportunities with South Holland District Council (Agenda item 3) pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Report of the Interim Chief Executive.

 

Minutes:

The Interim Chief Executive presented the urgent report which sought approval from Members with regards to the opportunity /proposal from South Holland District Council to enter into the sharing of a Joint Chief Executive and Senior Management arrangement with Breckland District Council.

 

It was explained that whilst waiting for news of the forthcoming Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), many authorities were looking to find savings, not by cutting services but by better ways of working, thus encouraging more local authorities to share chief executives.

 

Accordingly, the report was recommending that the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive, that was currently underway, for Breckland Council be suspended, and a further report be brought to the full Council meeting on 12th August 2010 to appoint the Chief Executive of South Holland District Council by means of a contract.  It was highlighted that the report would follow the decision of the Staff Appointments Panel meeting on 26 July 2010.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman, who had also been the Chairman of the Joint Scrutiny Panel whilst the South Norfolk proposal was on the table, had been somewhat surprised when those arrangements had ground to a halt, hoped that the work that had been carried out already, including Officer time, would not be wasted.  Members were informed that the previous work would be used and the analysis and options would be utilised.

 

A Member asked if the ethos of South Holland was similar to Breckland.  The Interim Chief Executive explained that the relationship between both Councils was strong and both shared a common purpose.

 

The Executive Member for Planning, Health & Housing pointed out that Members were fully engaged in the process.

 

The Chairman emphasised that the shared services agenda was the main topic at the moment and both Leaders had been having in-depth discussions.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman asked if some guidance could be provided on what might follow after the Council meeting on 12th August.

 

Members were informed that South Holland District Council was also holding its Cabinet meeting on 20 July and a recommendation to formally agree to offer their Chief Executive on a contract basis to Breckland Council for the shared service arrangement would be made at its Council meeting on 11 August (the day before Breckland’s).  This would then enable Breckland Council to appoint the said Chief Executive the following day.  It was noted that a Staff Appointments Panel would have to be convened before then as only this Panel had the authority to deal with applications for senior posts on certain grades.  The recommendation of the Staff Appointments Panel would then be made to full Council.  The timescales, however, were still unclear but it was anticipated, if all went to plan, that the shared services arrangements with South Holland would be up and running by the next financial year.

 

Options

 

1.            To keep the authority as it was at present and continue to recruit our own Chief Executive.

 

2.            Explore the opportunities further with South  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.

70.

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:

Messrs P Cowen, G Bambridge, B. Borrett and P. Duigan and Mrs L Turner.

71.

Medium Term Financial Strategy and Capital Strategy (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Corporate Resources Portfolio (Stephen Askew).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Finance presented the report which asked Members to consider the Medium Term Financial Strategy and draft Capital Strategy for recommendation to Council.

 

Members had a very comprehensive set of Strategies to consider; therefore, the Head of Finance provided the Cabinet with a presentation (attached) which highlighted the high level key aspects that had been affected by the emergency Budget, which included:

 

  • Public expenditure cuts
  • Pay increase
  • VAT increase
  • Insurance Premium Tax
  • Employer NI contributions
  • Council Tax freeze

 

The emergency budget had announced that government departments could see average real cuts to their budgets of around 25% over the next four years. The spending plans would be published on 20 October 2010 and there was an indication that the Government settlement would be announced in November 2010.

 

The chart at table 3 on the presentation showed how the reduction in Government Based Grant would affect Breckland Council in terms of percentage reduction and in terms of monetary values.  For example a 15% cut represented £565,453. The Finance Team would be focusing on a 25% cut.  All grants would be affected which, in real terms, would have an impact on the Council of £11m/£12m over the four year period.

 

Members were also asked to note that following the budget CAA did not now exist and although no score would be given the VFM opinion remained.

 

Both Strategies were normally put out to public consultation.  For this year, however, a survey would be carried out by MORI to drive the Council’s Business Plan and budget forward.

 

Referring to the Capital Reserves, it was noted that the Council would need to be mindful of the cash-flow from Iceland and provisions for any impairment had been made in the accounts.  An element of caution was required with regard to the releasing of £7.7m of Icelandic monies until the outcome of the Government settlement was announced.

 

The budget timetable was highlighted.

 

The Chairman felt that some of the charts in the presentation just highlighted the need for the Council to look at better ways of working, one of which was the shared services agenda.

 

The Executive Member for Corporate Resources thanked the Head of Finance for explaining everything in a very succinct and clear way of where the Council was at with its finances and highlighting the cuts that were likely to come.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman concurred with the above views but for utter clarity asked if the grant cuts were accumulative amounts year on year.  In response, Members were informed that they were accumulative.  An example was given of how much of an affect this would have on the Council in monetary value if the grant was cut by 25%.

 

Although the outlook for local government was quite depressing, the Chairman congratulated the Head of Finance for his excellent presentation.

 

Options

 

1)           To recommend the Strategies for approval.

 

2)           Not to recommend the Strategies for approval.

 

Reasons

 

To provide a clear framework for Officers to manage the Council’s finances over  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.

72.

New Executive Arrangements (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Corporate Resources Portfolio (Stephen Askew).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Solicitor and Standards Consultant presented the report which informed Members of new statutory requirements for public consultation and for proceeding to a new “strong leader” form of executive, being either an elected Mayor and Cabinet or a new style Leader and Cabinet.

 

Cabinet was also being asked to suggest wording for the consultation and a timetable to take the matter forward.  After the consultation process, the Council must take into account the results of the consultation, but would not be bound by them.  Members were informed that it was up to Council at what level the consultation should take.

 

The different options available were explained.

 

By 31st December 2010, a resolution must be passed by the Council as to which governance arrangements it intended to adopt.

 

Referring to the consultation document, a Member felt that the word ‘elected’ should be removed from the consultation document as, in his opinion, how it was written, looked as if the Leader would not have to be elected but a Mayor would.

 

The Solicitor and Standards Consultant advised that whatever option was chosen elections would have to take place but agreed to remove the aforementioned wording.

 

Options

 

1)           To agree the suggested consultation method and wording.

 

2)           To agree and alternative consultation method.

 

Reasons

 

Under the Local Government Act 2000, local authorities are required to adopt one of the following forms of executive arrangements:

 

  • Elected Mayor and Cabinet
  • Leader and Cabinet; and
  • Elected Mayor and council manager

 

RECOMMEND to Council that the suggested timetable be adopted and the consultation documents, as amended (see above) be approved.

73.

Working Arrangements for Elected Members - Guidance (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Corporate Resources Portfolio (Stephen Askew).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Member Services Manager presented the report which asked Members to consider a new piece of Guidance on Working Arrangements for Elected Members.

 

The Guidance outlined the arrangements for Members in the event of them requiring extended leave, sickness absence and payment of carers’ allowance.

 

Members were also provided with an update of what the Member Development Team had achieved thus far with regard to achieving Charter Plus.  The new Guidance was part of that process.

 

Options

 

To agree or not to agree the Guidance on Working Arrangements for Elected Members.

 

Reasons

 

The Statement outlines the arrangements for Members in the event of them requiring extended leave, sickness absence and payment of carer’s allowances.

 

RESOLVED that the Guidance on Working Arrangements for Elected Members, for inclusion in the Members Information Pack, be approved.

74.

Barnham Cross Estate - Redevelopment at Sweyn Close/Fulmerstone Road. Thetford (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Economic & Commercial Portfolio (Mark Kiddle-Morris).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for the Economic and Commercial Portfolio presented the report which sought approval for the transfer of some small areas of Council-owned land and release restrictive covenants affecting some garage forecourts at Sweyn Close and Fulmerston Road in Thetford.  If approved, this would enable Flagship Peddars Way’s proposed redevelopment to proceed.

 

Breckland Council and Flagship Peddars Way were currently working in partnership to regenerate and enhance this estate, maximising the use of the garage blocks, garage forecourts, off street parking areas and amenity areas and the land adjacent to the houses.

 

It was noted that this proposal represented a major contribution by the Council.

 

The Executive Member for Corporate Resources felt that this was a superb scheme as 66 new affordable homes would be provided.

 

Options

 

Subject to Flagship Peddars Way’s bid for funding from the Housing Corporation being successful, the options available to Members were as follows:

 

1)           That the following restrictive covenant on the Peddars Way Housing Association’s title (transfer dated 30 March 1993), in favour of Breckland District Council affecting the garage forecourts (as shown coloured yellow on the attached plan marked ‘plan 1’) at Sweyn Close, Fulmerston Road and Mingay Road in Thetford be released, at nil consideration.

 

“subject to Clause 7, in respect of any part of the Property described in Parts III, IV, V and VI of Schedule A (garages, garage forecourts, off street parking areas and amenity areas) not to develop or redevelop that part of the Property and not to permit the same to be used as other than garages, parking areas, amenity areas, respectively, serving residential dwellings”.

 

To transfer the areas of land (as shown coloured blue on the attached plan marked ‘plan 1’) at Sweyn Close, Fulmerston Road and Ulfkell Road in Thetford to Flagship Peddars Way, at nil consideration.

 

2)           That the following restrictive covenant on the Peddars Way Housing Association’s title (transfer dated 30 March 1993), in favour of Breckland District Council affecting the garage forecourts (as shown coloured yellow on the attached plan marked ‘plan 1’) at Sweyn Close, Fulmerston Road and Mingay Road in Thetford be released, at or above the District Valuers valuation.

 

“subject to Clause 7, in respect of any part of the Property described in Parts III, IV, V and VI of Schedule A (garages, garage forecourts, off street parking areas and amenity areas) not to develop or redevelop that part of the Property and not to permit the same to be used as other than garages, parking areas, amenity areas, respectively, serving residential dwellings”.

 

To transfer the areas of land (as shown coloured blue on the attached plan marked ‘plan 1’) at Sweyn Close, Fulmerston Road and Ulfkell Road in Thetford to Flagship Peddars Way, at or above the District Valuers valuation.

 

3)           That the land not be transferred and the restrictive covenants not be released.

 

Reasons

 

To support Flagship Peddars Way in the regeneration and enhancement of the Barnham Cross Estate in Thetford.

 

Subject to Flagship Peddars Way’s bid  ...  view the full minutes text for item 74.

75.

Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 547 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Economic & Commercial Portfolio (Mark Kiddle-Morris).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for the Economic and Commercial Portfolio presented the report which detailed the proposals for the Decriminalisation of Parking Enforcement in Norfolk.  The current programme was for Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) to be introduced in the autumn of 2011 subject to the agreement of the Secretary of State.

 

Members were informed that Norfolk County Council was now taking up these duties across the County and Breckland Council would take no part in it.

 

There would be a slight cost to Breckland Council in the fact that all existing car parking orders in the district would have to be replaced to comply with the Traffic Management Act 2004, to enable them to be enforceable.

 

Apologies had been received from the Opposition Leader, Cllr R Goreham; however, he had requested the following observations to be read out:

 

  1. I would register my disappointment that the Police have chosen to “withdraw” from parking enforcement activity. I hope this will not be the first in a series of such abdications, presumably justified by the phrase that “they do not have a duty” to carry it out.

 

  1. I would agree with the report inasmuch as local enforcement is better carried out by (a) a local authority body possessing local knowledge; and (b) by an authority – or shared agreement with other authorities – rather than by a commercial third party contractor. The latter would – almost certainly – not operate with the same sensitivities in mind as a local council!

 

  1. Although the report distinguishes between on-street parking enforcement and BDC car park enforcement, I would wish for confirmation that the Council is not going to use the Civil Parking Enforcement changes as a methodology for introducing car parking charges per se across Breckland. My own town, Dereham, directly benefits from free parking facilities which undoubtedly helps to attract visitors to the town and helps boost our local economy. I wouldn’t want to see Dereham (for instance) adopting the policy of Norwich where parking meters are rife and quite complicated “permit holders only” restrictions are prevalent, but not always obvious, to the unsuspecting motorist!

 

Referring to the paragraph mentioning car parking charges, Members were informed that the Council’s Task & Finish Group was already leading on this matter.  Each town would be considered, Attleborough had already been through the necessary consultation process where it had been agreed that no car parking charges would be implemented.  Watton was now going through the same process.

 

The Chairman hoped that all towns would be treated the same.

 

The Interim Chief Executive advised that a neighbouring district or service provider might be chosen to provide enforcement.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman stated that any deal struck with Norfolk County Council would be carefully scrutinised.  Members were informed that all the aforementioned comments would be taken on board as part of the discussions with Norfolk County Council.

 

As a County Councillor, Bill Borrett reported that Norfolk County Council had not been at all keen to take this on and would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.

76.

DEFRA Funding - Whitsands Road, Swaffham (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Environmental Well-Being & Communications Portfolio (Kay Fisher).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report sought Cabinet’s approval to permit the Contaminated Land Officers to spend DEFRA Grant money received through the Contaminated Land Capital Grants programme of £20,995 for part of the former gas works site at Whitsands Road in Swaffham.

 

This would enable the Contaminated Land Officers to carry out their duties in accordance with Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

 

Options

 

1)     To spend DEFRA grant money received through the Contaminated Land Capital Grants Programme of £20,995.

 

2)     Do nothing.

 

Reasons

 

Spending the DEFRA funding would remove the financial burden on the Council and enable the Contaminated Land Officers to continue with investigations through Part 2A and to start investigations on a further site designated as ‘high risk’.

 

RESOLVED that the Contaminated Land Officers be allowed access to the grant funding received from DEFRA to carry out their duties in accordance with Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

77.

DEFRA Funding - Quebec Road, Dereham (Agenda item 13) pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Environmental Well-Being and Communications Portfolio (Kay Fisher).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report sought Cabinet’s approval to permit the Contaminated Land Officers to spend DEFRA Grant money received through the Contaminated Land Capital Grants Programme of £23,683 for a former gas works site at Quebec Road in Dereham.

 

This would enable the Contaminated Land Officers to carry out their duties in accordance with Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

 

Options

 

1)     To spend DEFRA grant money received through the Contaminated Land Capital Grants Programme of £23,683.

 

2)     Do nothing.

 

Reasons

 

Spending the DEFRA funding would remove or reduce the financial burden on the Council and enable the Contaminated Land Officers to start investigations on a further site designated as ‘high risk’.

 

RESOLVED that the Contaminated Land Officers be allowed access to the grant funding received from DEFRA to carry out their duties in accordance with Part 2A of the Environmental protection Act 1990.

78.

Brecks Countryside Project - Memorandum Agreement (Agenda item 14) pdf icon PDF 942 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The current Memorandum of Agreement with the Brecks Countryside Project expired at the end of March 2009 with a proposed Memorandum of Agreement running from 2009-2012.  The report sought Members’ approval to continue to financially support the project and renew the Agreement with immediate effect.

 

Members’ attention was drawn to the funding arrangements at the top of page 137 of the report and to the Proforma B which included the comments from the Finance Team which provided clarity around the funding.

 

Members were informed that as this was supplementary to the budget a recommendation to Council would be required.

 

The Executive Member for the Planning, Health & Housing Portfolio read out an email received from Marion Chapman-Allen who as a District Member for Thetford wanted her observations to be taken into account.

 

She praised the work that Neil Featherstone, the Manager of the Brecks Partnership, had done for Thetford and raised the point about the cost this would have had on the Council if a Breckland Officer had been brought in to complete this work.  She understood that the Cabinet was only considering to fund the project for one more year due to the financial cutbacks and constraints that all councils were having to make, but was unhappy that the Brecks funding was being terminated, as she was mindful that Thetford, would most probably need, in the near future, a dedicated green infrastructure officer to deal with the needs and growth of the town without the expertise of the Brecks Partnership Manager.

 

Mr Neil Featherstone was in attendance and provided Members with the history of the Brecks Partnership and gave examples of work and projects carried out to date.  He explained the advantages of being a member of such an organisation. The income that had been received so far had generated over £2m for tourism in the area.  He explained that the £18k that was being requested represented only 20% of the overall budget.  All partners involved had continued with their support since 2009.

 

He further explained the work programme in place to meet the objectives that had been set and the work involving nationally recognised Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) with Natural England.  Mr Featherstone pointed out that the programme included the possibility of eliminating the duties from Breckland Council for the upkeep of such sites.

 

The Chairman commended the work that had been done thus far. 

 

The Executive Member for the Planning, Health & Housing Portfolio had not realised that Breckland Council had a duty towards SSSIs.  The statutory duties were explained.  The Interim Chief Executive advised that he was unaware of the details but would report back.

 

The Executive Member for the Economic & Commercial Portfolio had concerns with regard to the increase in funding and highlighted the fact that, instead of going down this route of further budgetary requirements, the Brecks Partnership could have applied for funding from the Match Funding Pot which most probably would have been approved.

 

The Executive Member for the Environmental  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.

79.

Reference from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission (Agenda item 15) pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider references, if any, from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 15 July 2010.

Minutes:

a)     Duty to Respond to Petitions

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman advised that the Council did not have a choice but to enter into a petitions scheme as it was a requirement of the Local Government, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009.

 

There had been a number of concerns raised at the O&SC meeting with regard to the threshold for petitions being set too high and issues affecting individual villages that would not be able to attract the required number of signatures to trigger debate.  The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman explained that the Council was able to determine the thresholds for dealing with such petitions and could also nominate which Senior Officers should attend the Commission when considering petitions; additionally, any item could be brought through to Scrutiny via the Councillor Call for Action without a petition.

 

Cllr Gordon Bambridge, in attendance, hoped that Breckland Council would take account of the above points otherwise rural areas could be left out.

 

Cllr Bill Borrett liked to think that Ward Members were aware and would listen to what was going on in their areas.  He was keen to engage with the community but felt that the proposed thresholds were extremely low and could be open to persistent complainers.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that:

 

1)                 the petition scheme (show at Appendix 1 of the O&SC report) be endorsed including the proposed thresholds;

 

2)                 the associated scheme terms and conditions (shown at Appendix 2 of the O&SC report) be agreed; and

 

3)                 appropriate wording be inserted into the Council’s Constitution to officially recognise the petitions scheme.

 

b)     Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE)

 

See Minute No. 76/10 above.

 

80.

Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership (Agenda item 16)

80/071

Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 10 June 2010 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Minutes:

a)           Proposal to Vary the Terms of Membership – East Cambridgeshire District Council (Minute No. 33/10)

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)     East Cambridgeshire District Council 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.

 

b)           Minutes

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership Joint Committee meeting held on 10 June 2010 be adopted.

 

80/072

Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 1 July 2010 pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Minutes:

a)           Performance Report (Minute No. 39/10)

 

The ARP Team was congratulated for bringing the processing of new benefit claims down to five days against the required standard of nine.

 

b)           Minutes

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership Joint Committee meeting held on 1 July 2010 be adopted.

81.

Business Improvement Sub-Committee: 1 June 2010 (Agenda item 17) pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To adopt the Minutes of the Business Improvement Sub-Committee meeting held on 1 June 2010.

Minutes:

a)           Minutes (Minute No. 29/10 from the meeting held on 4 May 2010 )

 

RESOLVED that the need for an on-site generator be investigated to safeguard business continuity at the Dereham office.

 

b)           Minutes

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Business Improvement Sub-Committee meeting held on 1 June 2010 be adopted.

82.

Next Meeting (Agenda item 18)

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Tuesday, 7 September 2010.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Cabinet would be held on Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 9.30am in the Norfolk Room.