Agenda and minutes

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

Items
No. Item

24.

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2012.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 10 January 2012 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

25.

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

None.

26.

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 Chairman and the Vice-Chairman declared a personal interest in agenda item 10 due to them being property landlords.

 

Mr Wassell declared a personal interest in agenda item 9 due to a family member being currently in receipt of DFG funding.

 

The Chief Executive declared a personal and prejudicial interest in agenda item 17 as part of the report related to his post.  The Chief Executive left the room following presentation of the report.

27.

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 E Jolly, Mrs D Irving, Mr G Bambridge, Mr P Cowen, Mr P Duigan, Mr T Jermy, Mr W Richmond and Mr M Wassell.

28.

Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Process Guide (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Report of Adrian Stasiak, Executive Member for Performance & Business Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Performance & Development introduced this item.

 

The Governance & Performance Accountant presented the new Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Process Guide that had been based on current best practice.  He highlighted the different roles within the authority.

 

The Anglia Revenues Partnership used the same process and approach to risk management but used a 5 x 5 scoring matrix for risk assessment as previously agreed by the Joint Committee (see Appendix A of the report).

 

The new Policy and Process Guide would be supported with a full implementation plan and training for Members and Officers.

 

It was noted that the Audit Committee had discussed and had agreed the report at its meeting on 3 February 2012.

 

In response to a concern about whether this document included new procedures for mitigating potential risks, Members were informed that these had been captured in the Process Guide.

 

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services felt that Officers within the authority had the wrong attitude towards risk and he hoped that by having this in place there would be more effective and appropriate behaviour towards it.

 

The Chief Executive stated that this Policy and Process Guide concentrated on mitigating risks and it would not stifle the authority from its day to day business.

 

Option 1

 

That the Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Process Guide be recommended to Cabinet for adoption.

 

Option 2

 

Continue to operate with two separate Risk Management Strategies across the two authorities.

 

Reasons

 

The new Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Process Guide reflected best practice in risk management and were based on the principles of ISO 31000 and OGC’s Management of Risk (M_o_R) guidelines and would introduce a standardised approach to risk management for both authorities.

 

RESOLVED that the Risk Management Policy and Risk Management Process Guide be adopted, subject to a small amendment to Appendix A on page 24 of the agenda, 3rd paragraph to read:” the needs of all four partners”.

29.

The Food Law Enforcement Plan (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Report of Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Health introduced this item.

 

The Principal Environmental Health Officer explained that the food safety function was a statutory role for all local authorities and the delivery of the service was defined by the Food Standards Agency Framework Agreement (2000).  This required all Councils to produce and annual Food Law Enforcement Plan describing how the service would be delivered during that year.

 

A detailed report was provided.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services asked how the Plan was monitored and overseen and whether it was looked upon as a potential risk.  Members were informed that the Plan was subject to periodic external audits by the Food Standards Agency and not by the Council’s Audit Committee.

 

The Chairman pointed out that this was one of those traditional documents that all authorities had to complete.

 

Option 1

 

To recommend to Full Council the approved Food Law Enforcement Plan as at Appendix 1 of the report.

 

Option 2

 

Not to approve the Food Law Enforcement Plan.

 

Reasons

 

The Food Law Enforcement Plan was one of the plans and strategies recommended by the Secretary of State to form part of each local authority’s policy framework.

 

The Council’s Constitution reserved the approval of the Food Law Enforcement Plan to Full Council after consultation with Cabinet.

 

Central Government held default powers where local authorities failed to effectively undertake their food safety service.

 

The function was statutory and the range of possible approaches was prescribed by Regulations and Statutory Guidance.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that the Food Law Enforcement Plan for 2012/13 be adopted.

30.

Disabled Adaptations Funding (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Report of Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services urged the Cabinet to support this new grant system so that all adaptations could be provided to disabled persons in a timely manner.

 

The Principal Environmental Health Officer presented the report which allowed Members to discuss and decide whether to introduce a new form of grant aid called ‘Reable’ that would replace Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) in some circumstances.

 

DFGs had been place for many years and had been designed to work with an inbuilt means test.  The application form for this type of grant was, in itself, a considerable sized document and was unnecessarily bureaucratic and burdensome for the vast majority of cases dealt with.  Furthermore, the bid based grant had been ring-fenced and could only be spent on DFGs.  However, the Government had just recently changed the rules and, although nominally still classed as bid based funding, the support funding could be allocated on a historical spend basis as part of an overall Housing Capital Grant that was no longer ring-fenced and could be spent on other forms of assistance.

 

The vast majority of DFGs granted over the years had been under £7,000 for adaptations that were classed as small scale.  It was therefore felt that the current DFG process was far too long for relatively simple works at minimal costs.

 

The introduction of ‘Reable’ would allow grants for adaptations to be processed far quicker and more flexibly and would significantly improve the efficiency of the process.  This would enable unit costs per application to be lowered and ultimately decreasing the cost of service provision.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services asked how targeted this mean testing was.  He further asked if adaptations that had been installed could be removed and recycled for another person’s use if the original applicant moved on.  The Principal Environmental Health Officer explained that ‘Reable’ was designed for non-means tested applicants; however, the DFG process would still be used.  As far as the latter question was concerned, the answer was yes, equipment was recycled.  In response to another question with regard to the role of Social Services, Members were informed that part of the bureaucracy with DFGs was that welfare was with County Services, local authorities, such as Breckland did not have this type of mandatory service built in.  The introduction of ‘Reable’ would enable the Council to bypass that part of the consultation process; however, it was not the intention to remove County Services altogether.

 

Mr Wassell informed Members of the struggle that his grandson had experienced, not only with the grant but also with suitable housing.  The Private Sector Housing Team had tried its utmost to sort these problems out.  He felt sorry for others in the same predicament that did not have the same background knowledge as he had and he urged the Cabinet to support the recommendation.

 

The Principal Environmental Health Officer said that it was the process that was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Report of Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Health introduced this item and highlighted the fact that the public consultation had raised a number of concerns from the Eastern Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association.  He asked if he could address some questions to the Principal Environmental Health Officer.

 

Firstly, he asked what the justification was for Breckland Council introducing this scheme.  Members were informed that following waves of migrant workers to the area a significant amount of properties were turned into houses of multiple-occupation.  Many were and remained as unsuitable and did not fall into the current mandatory licensing scheme category of being 3 or more storey dwellings.  Introducing this additional scheme would provide the Council with prior notification of who owned and managed these unfit properties.  The Private Sector Housing Team did not want to be responsible for people living in unsafe housing or neighbours feeling threatened by the occupiers.

 

The second question related to the challenges with regard to public consultation and the Executive Member asked if the Principal Environmental Health Officer could provide assurance that proper wider consultation had been carried out.  Members were informed that certain groups such as all Parishes, Town Councils, Landlord Associations and a sample of known HMO owners, neighbours and Landlord Forums had been targeted.  The 12 week consultation had also been made available on the Breckland website.   The Executive Member was content that due process had been followed and that support for this scheme was being requested.  In response, the Principal Environmental Health Officer advised that he had been heavily involved in this matter from the start and he was satisfied that he had followed the consultation process as set out.

 

The third question related to how the fee had been arrived at.  Members were informed that following guidance the fee would be classed as a cost recovery for administration costs only not for enforcement.  The original figure for the mandatory current scheme had been set several years ago at £225; this fee had since increased to £300.  Other authorities’ fees had been examined and compared and it was amongst the cheapest and less than other Norfolk authorities.  This cost could be justified as a minimum cost.

 

The Executive Member was happy with the responses.

 

The Chairman guessed that with the current system these HMOs were difficult to locate and asked if they would be more identifiable in future if this additional Licensing Scheme was introduced.  The Principal Environmental Health Officer explained that anyone who wanted to open an HMO would have to apply for a licence; this new scheme would also allow direct application of conditions and standards. 

 

Referring to the Housing Act, which classed HMOs as three or more storey dwellings with five or more occupiers, the Chairman asked if his house would be classed as such as he lived in a three storey house with a family of four but sometimes with a lodger.  His mind was put at rest when it was highlighted that one or two  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Breckland Council Grant Funding: Funding Round 4 2011/12 (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Report of Lynda Turner, Executive Member for Localism, Community & Environmental Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report summarising the funding recommendations that had been made by the Grant Panel for Funding was just for information as all applications made had been approved by a delegated decision.  These included:

 

  • Dereham Festival (£2,000 or 15.83% of the total project costs)
  • Festival on the Farm (£1,750 or 50% of the total project costs)
  • Ashill Allotment Improvements (£843.80 or 45% of the total project costs)
  • Swaffham Cricket Club (£3,000 or 10% of the total project costs)
  • Breckland Basketball Academy (£2,550 or 50% of the total project costs)

 

The Opposition Leader asked about Match Funding status.  As the Officer responsible was not in attendance it was agreed that the information would be found and reported back to the Opposition Leader forthwith.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

33.

Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership Joint Committee (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report of the ARP Joint Committee meeting held on 25 January 2012.

Minutes:

a)           First Phase of Partnership Expansion (Minute No. 6/12)

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services was pleased to report that this was the first step of taking on two new partners to the Partnership.

 

b)           Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership Joint Committee meeting held on 25 January 2012 be adopted.

 

34.

Business Improvement and Projects Sub-Committee (for information) (Agenda item 13) pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Members are asked to note that the meeting held on the 3 January 2012 was inquorate and therefore no decisions could be made and only informal notes were taken.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Business Improvement and Project Sub-Committee meeting held on 3 January 2012 were noted.

35.

Next Meeting (Agenda item 14)

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 9.30am in the Norfolk Room.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 were noted.

36.

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 items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 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 paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Act.

37.

Environmental Health Review (Agenda item 16)

Report of Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Commissioning described in great detail the proposal for a shared Environmental Health and Licensing Service at South Holland and Breckland Council and furnished Members with the IT investment needed in order for the shared service to function.

 

Option 1

 

No change – to continue to deliver services independently.  This would not provide the savings or deliver the other service changes benefits highlighted in the report.  There would also be less resilience and breadth of skills and less scope for expansion.

 

Option 2

 

Partial change – to undertake the HR changes without investment in IT.  The investment in IT would enable staff to work more efficiently with streamlined processes and procedures and increased mobile working.  The ability to effectively share management and administration would be restricted without investment in IT.  As noted above, the secure connection would benefit and facilitate the ease of joint working generally.

 

Option 3

 

Alternative – to share staff at all levels within the structure.  This would limit the ability of each authority to determine its own service standards, requirement for non statutory work and consequent staffing levels.  It would also impact on the field officers that have established local relationships, contracts and knowledge and would impact on the ‘customer experience’.

 

Reasons

 

To develop an appropriate service delivery model that realised savings whilst ensuring that the service was able to best meet the needs of the Council.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that:

 

1)           the proposal for a shared Environmental Health and Licensing service at South Holland and Breckland Council be approved; and

 

2)           the capital investment in IT to make possible the shared service be approved.

38.

Breckland, Great Yarmouth and South Holland Shared Management (Agenda item 17)

Report of William Nunn, Leader of Breckland Council.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive gave a detailed report on the proposed joint management arrangement for the three Councils.

 

Although the proposal had been welcomed, there were a number of concerns in relation to the affect the proposal would have on the level of management below the Directors, and the affect reviews were having on staff morale.  Members were informed that these concerns had already been recognised and a structure chart with contact numbers was being produced so that the said Officers, now known as the Key Officers Group (KOGs), could be easily recognised and contactable in the Directors absence.  As far as the latter was concerned, there would have to be changes to some services and some would have to be re-designed to close the financial gap but another partner provided resilience unlike other authorities who were constantly reducing staff particularly from the top down to save money. 

 

Members were satisfied that all concerns raised had been taken into account.

 

The Chief Executive left the room.

 

Members were in support of the consultation going forward.

 

Options

 

To support or not to support the proposals.

 

Reasons

 

See Report.

 

RESOLVED to support the recommendation to the Special Council meeting to be held on 9 March 2012.