Agenda and minutes

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

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 4 MB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 29 November 2011.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 29 November 2011 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

2.

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

None.

3.

Urgent Business (Agenda item 3)

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.

4.

Declaration of Interest (Agenda item 4)

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 or prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

The following declarations were made:

 

The Chairman, the Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development, Mr B Borrett and Mr P Duigan declared a personal interest in agenda item 17 due to them all being County Councillors.

 

Mr P Cowen declared a personal interest in agenda item 17 by virtue of his profession as an architect in practice.

5.

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:

Mesdames S. Armes, C. Bowes, D. Irving, E. Jolly, S. Matthews and Messrs P. Duigan, K. Gilbert, T. Jermy, A Joel, T. Lamb, W. Richmond, M. Robinson, F. Sharpe and M. Wassell.

6.

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 6)

Minutes:

The Chairman was pleased to announce that Breckland Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF) document had been found sound by the Planning Inspector following the Council’s response to the additional consultation on the Inspector’s proposed changes in Shipdham.  

7.

Proposed Transfer of Land at Coronation Terrace, Caston (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report of Mark Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development presented the report which requested Members’ approval to transfer two areas of land at Coronation Terrace in Caston to Caston Parish Council.

 

Background information was provided.

 

Options

 

1)           To transfer the two areas of land at Coronation Terrace in Caston to Caston Parish Council at nil consideration subject to the imposition of a restrictive covenant “not to use these areas of land for any purpose other than amenity purposes only”.

 

2)           Breckland Council to retain ownership and therefore maintain these areas of land.

 

Reasons

 

1)           To relieve Breckland Council of future liabilities.

 

2)           The imposition of the restrictive covenant would protect Breckland Council should this land be considered suitable for development in future; the value of such a release would be payable by Caston Parish Council or their successors in title.

 

RESOLVED that the two areas of land at Coronation Terrace in Caston be transferred to Caston Parish Council at nil consideration subject to the imposition of a restrictive covenant “not to use these areas of land for any purpose other than amenity purposes only”.

8.

Rollout of East ACTIVE Project to Generate Income (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Report of Mark Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development introduced this item which requested permission for a full business case to be submitted to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for the East ACTIVE project, with the Council underwriting the costs and risks associated with the delivery of the project.

 

The Economic Development Manager and the Economic Development Officer were in attendance and provided Members with a presentation.

 

The current REV ACTIVE project had gained national recognition and had won an award and due to its on-going success an opportunity had arisen to submit a further bid to the European Funding Programme under the title of East ACTIVE. 

 

An expression of interest had been submitted to the DCLG which had been received favourably and as a result it was likely that the DCLG would be requesting a full business plan submission in the first half of 2012.

 

East ACTIVE would be focusing on delivering to other areas in the Eastern region, rather than directly in Breckland and the area of focus was currently within the borough of Luton in Bedfordshire.  Luton had already opted to come on board and Gt Yarmouth Borough Council had already expressed an interest.

 

With significant reductions in business support, this would be a great opportunity for Breckland Council to fill a gap.  East ACTIVE would buy economic development staff time and would generate management fees back to the Council.

 

The financial profile of the project was shown and how the monies would be spent was highlighted. 

 

The Vice-Chairman asked if all business enquiries along the A11 corridor which was currently covered by the REV ACTIVE project had been dealt with.  He further asked if the Team would be talking to businesses who were considering moving to the area since the announcement of the duelling of the A11.  Members were advised that the Economic Development Team continued to engage with businesses in a number of ways.  East ACTIVE was a separate project but there would be some overlap with REV ACTIVE as businesses did not take account of district boundaries.

 

Members were informed of a recent Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting that had looked at discretionary and non-discretionary services within the Council.  This report proved that Economic Development, although classed as non-discretionary, was an important asset to the Council and the Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman commended the project to the Cabinet.

 

Option 1

 

Agree the following:

  • Development and submission of an East ACTIVE full Business Case to CLG;
  • If successful, accept the funding and subject to all other funding being secured, set up the appropriate income and expenditure budgets to allow the project to proceed;
  • Employ three additional staff (an Area Manager and two part time administration/technical support posts – one in Luton and one in Breckland) to deliver the project.  These posts would be 100% funded from Project income;
  • Extend and reconfigure the existing REV ACTIVE Project Manager’s post to December 2015.  This post would be 100% funded from Project income.

 

Option 2

 

As per  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Alternative Car Park Policy Feasibility (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of Mark Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive presented the report which requested the release of revenue funds to enable specialist resources to be obtained to undertake research and the completion of a business case in relation to alternative car parking policies.

 

The proposal was highlighted.

 

The Chief Executive knew that Members were well aware of the financial challenges ahead and the recent statement made by the Chancellor had made it quite clear that government funding would be reduced even further in future.  In these circumstances, all possibilities, such as car parking charges must be considered to get through these difficult economic times.  Breckland Council did not have the same knowledge as other authorities that already had parking charges in place and this was why this type of expertise was being sought.

 

The Chairman understood why Breckland Council was considering this review and further understood why Members and the public were so alarmed; he too was alarmed by the amount of money being requested and asked whether one of the Council’s own officers could be used to undertake this study.

 

In his defence, the Chief Executive stressed that no more than £50k would be required.  He had been aware of the Chairman’s suggestion of using someone in-house and agreed to either extend an existing officer’s contract or second someone from another authority who already had the knowledge and expertise.  This method would cost considerably less than £50k.

 

Mr Sharpe spoke on behalf of residents and various organisations from Swaffham who were concerned about the amount of money being requested.  He urged Cabinet to authorise a far lower amount and to agree to the Chairman’s aforementioned suggestion.

 

Mr Wassell asked for the business rate figure for car parks.  In response, the Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development advised that the business rates for this financial year was just over £61k.  This figure included refurbishment and running costs and would increase year on year with inflation.

 

Mr T Jermy, on behalf of the Labour Group, was totally against the idea of car parking charges and felt that free parking was a major advantage for retailers. He quoted a statement made by Mary Portas who had said that the introduction of parking charges at this moment in time would be a disaster as most High Streets were already struggling (Mary Portas had been appointed by the Prime Minister to lead an independent review into the future of our High Streets). Mr Jermy felt that such charges would reduce the number of visitors to the town as it relied on a ‘nip in’ culture and would be a disadvantage to rural residents.  He urged Members to abandon the plans and find other ways to plug the funding shortfall.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services reminded Members that the report was not requesting a decision to charge for car parking it was just requesting that a feasibility study be carried out.  All services had to be reviewed as part of the best value regime.  However, he asked Members  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Budget, Financial Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Report of Stephen Askew, Executive Member for Finance and Democratic Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance and Democratic Services thanked the Assistant Director of Finance and his Team for all their hard work throughout the year.  He highlighted the number of efficiencies that had been made during the year which had assisted in producing such a balanced budget.

 

The appendices to the report outlined the 2012-13 revenue and capital estimates for the General Fund, the proposals for the setting of discretionary fees and charges, the outline financial position through to 2016-17, the financial Medium Term Plan and the Capital Strategy.  It was noted that the effect of the Riverside project, if approved, had already been included in the budget. 

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services was very pleased to have a balanced budget; many other local authorities would envy being in this position.  He also mentioned the efficiency savings that Breckland had made over the years whilst still maintaining the lowest council tax in the country.  He was very proud of being involved with such a proactive and far sighted Council and congratulated the Portfolio Holder and the Finance Team.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman echoed the above comments as it had been a great challenge for everyone involved.

 

In response to a request for an explanation of the New Homes Bonus, the Chief Executive explained that the New Homes Bonus was a reward paid to local authorities based on the council tax of additional homes and those brought back into use. The Finance Team had been prudent and this bonus would be contributed to reserves in the year it was received.  Although this was a six year grant, it had been assumed that after four years the grant would be funded from a reduction in Rate Support Grants and National Domestic Rates; therefore, at this stage no additional grant had been assumed.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services felt that public money needed to be well managed for future generations.

 

Options

 

There were no alternative options presented; however, Cabinet was able to make amendments before recommendation to Full Council.

 

Reasons

 

To comply with the budgetary and policy framework.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that:

 

1)           the Breckland revenue estimates and Parish Special Expenses for 2012-13  and outline position through to 2016-17 (as set out in Appendix B of the report) be approved;

 

2)           the capital estimates and associated funding for 2012-13 and outline position through to 2016-17 (as set out in appendix I of the report) be approved;

 

3)           the revised capital estimates and associated funding for 2011-12 (as set out in appendix I) be approved;

 

4)           the fees and charges shown at appendices  E & E2 of the report be adopted on 1 April 2012;

 

5)           the Council Tax for a Band D property in 2012-13 be set at £64.05 (as set out in appendix B of the report);

 

6)           the Financial Medium Term Plan at Appendix A of the report be approved; and

 

7)           the Capital Strategy as at Appendix H of the report be approved.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)           the budget  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Reference from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission (Agenda item 11)

To consider references, if any, from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 5 January 2012.

Minutes:

None.

12.

Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 1 December 2011.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Anglia Revenues & Benefits Partnership Joint Committee meeting held on 1 December 2011 be adopted.

13.

Member Development Panel (for information) (Agenda item 13) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To note the Minutes of the meeting held on 24 November 2011.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Member Development Panel meeting held on 24 November 2011 be noted.

14.

Next Meeting (Agenda item 14)

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 at 9.30am in the Norfolk Room.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 in the Norfolk Room were noted.

15.

Exclusion of Press and Public (Agenda item 15)

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

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

Minutes:

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

16.

PFI Benchmarking (Agenda item 16)

Report of Mark Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development presented the report which asked Members to support the business proposals as listed in the report.

 

The contractor had identified two opportunities to help reduce any adverse financial impact of the Benchmarking process.  The set up of the PFI benchmarking process was explained.

 

Mrs Armes asked a number of questions about the proposal some of which were answered by the PFI Leisure Monitoring Officer at the meeting.  She asked that the proposal for the Club based at Thetford Leisure Centre be put on hold until all relevant persons had been consulted.  The Chairman suggested that the remaining questions be discussed outside the meeting with the said Officer.

 

There was some discussion about membership and the way particular sports had been promoted.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services was in support of the recommendation as it did not make sense to keep something open throughout the year when there was no demand.

 

Options

 

See report.

 

Reasons

 

·              To help reduce the financial impact to the Council of the benchmarking process

 

·              To assist the contractor in attracting new users and increasing the centres income

 

§               To allow the contractor to vary the facilities on offer to meet the demands of the customers

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)           the business proposal for a contractual ‘change of use’ of the Bar/Function room at Dereham Leisure Centre into a dedicated Martial Arts Dojo arena be approved; and

 

2)           the business proposal for a contractual change of use of the Bowls Hall at Breckland Leisure Centre in Thetford during the summer months (May-Sept) for the provision of soft play and children’s activities be approved.

17.

Thetford Riverside Regeneration Project (Agenda item 17)

Report of Mark Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development introduced the report which set out the proposals for the Thetford Riverside Regeneration project.

 

A presentation and a detailed overview of the project were provided.

 

A Member suggested that Thetford Town Council should be approached for possible financial assistance.

 

After much discussion, it was proposed that one of the recommendations be changed and a Special meeting be held to legally complete and sign off the agreement to lease (if approved) and the Audit Committee be tasked to monitor the contract and any financial risks associated with the project.

 

Options

 

See report.

 

Reasons

 

See report.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that:

 

1)           the funding as requested be released; subject to due diligence being completed;

 

2)           the grant from Norfolk County Council Infrastructure fund be accepted subject to acceptable Heads of Terms;

 

3)           a Special Cabinet meeting be held to legally complete and sign off the agreement to lease, if agreed; and

 

4)           the Audit Committee be commissioned to monitor the contract and any financial risks associated with the project.