Agenda and minutes

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

Items
No. Item

53/13

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2013.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2013 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

54/13

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

None.

55/13

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, M Chapman-Allen, E Jolly and J North and Messrs G Bambridge, P Cowen, P Duigan, K Gilbert, T Jermy, R Kybird and F Sharpe.

56/13

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 6)

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that this was the last Cabinet meeting that David Spencer the Joint Deputy Planning Manager would be attending.  He thanked David for all his help and assistance over the years.  The Chairman and Members said that he had been an excellent Officer and would be sorely missed.

57/13

Support Services Review - Senior Railcards (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Report of Michael Wassell, Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Vice-Chairman and the Internal Consultant for Business Development introduced the report and summarised the main points.

 

Senior Railcards had been looked at as part of a review of Support Services which was managed by the Finance Team.

 

Almost 20 years ago an agreement had been made between 15 councils in Norfolk and Suffolk to collectively buy 10000 cards a year in exchange for discounts that could be passed on to residents.  Breckland had been chosen to coordinate bulk purchasing and this had been carried out pretty much unchanged since 1994.

 

The landscape had changed a lot in that time and the number of passenger journeys continued to rise, increasing by 19% in the last 4 years alone; however, railcards sales by the Council had dropped by 19% in the same period.

 

No costs were recovered or any administration fees charged for this work; unlike some councils.  It took around 6 hours of officer time per week to order, distribute and sell railcards, equivalent to approximately £3000 a year.

 

The processes to order and sell the railcards were quite complex and often went wrong in the background, which was one of the reasons the Business Development Team chose to look at this work.  It was found, by chance, that the supplier was planning to change its own processes so it could deal with its customers direct and phase out the sale of railcards by councils.  The Council had to react to these changes as there was no choice as the service would end at some point soon.

 

The supplier had an idea for an arrangement that would mean that residents could carry on getting the 25% discount for one year and possibly some discount thereafter; however, this would mean that customers would not be able to walk into one of Breckland Council’s Service Centres and walk out with a railcard.

 

The alternative being recommended was to withdraw from railcard ordering and sales, and instead, signpost residents to the best available alternative.  This might entail going to the local train station, buying on-line or over the telephone.  There were many ways to receive discounts such as 10% off for renewing on-line, 22% for buying a 3 year railcard as well as Tesco Clubcard deals – all of which many of Breckland’s residents could benefit from.

 

The recommended option would also bring a time saving of 5 to 6 hours per week and whilst this was not currently cashable, it would be added to cumulative efficiency savings from other projects in the support service review.

 

Other Councils had been alerted that were affected by these changes, including North Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk.

 

It was believed that the recommended option would avoid messing people around twice, and would mean that the Council was acting proactively to a change that was being imposed by the railcard supplier.  Should Members’ be mindful to approve the recommendation, a plan had been drawn up to implement the preferred option (option B).

 

The Executive Member  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57/13

58/13

Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2013 (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Report of Elizabeth Gould, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services and Mark Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development.

 

Executive Members and Executive Support Members are asked to bring their copies of the final draft Strategic Housing Market Assessment document to the meeting.

 

Additional paper copies will be available on the day for other Members of the Council in attendance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In 2006/07, Fordham Research had undertaken a sub-regional Housing Market Assessment for the rural East Anglia Sub-Region.  Breckland Council had been the lead authority for this work, with Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council and North Norfolk District Council also being partners.  The Assessment had been based on a primary Housing Needs Survey and showed a significant need for affordable housing across all three partner authorities.  In 2010, a brief secondary data update had been undertaken in-house.  These assessments were now at the end of their life and no longer provided sufficient robust evidence to inform strategy, policy and planning decisions.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman made reference to the comments made by the Commission at its meeting on 18 July 2013 (agenda item 11 refers).   He had thought that this report was going to be a very dour subject but in fact all Members in attendance had found it to be very interesting and had discovered that the Strategic Housing Market Assessment’s data was going to play a crucial role when looking at planning policies in future - particularly the changes required in housing need for single parent families over the next 20 years; and how the Council was going to control the affordable housing provision.  It was noted that all Members of the Commission were 100% behind this Assessment going forward.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services highlighted paragraph 1.1 of the report which referred to quite an old piece of research and asked if all data was now up to date.  He also asked how the Council was going to guarantee affordability to be able to make up and sustain the deficit of affordable housing particularly when Housing Associations were still selling off properties.  In response to the first question, the Housing Enabling Officer said that the main reason for re-doing the assessment was that the previous data was very outdated and at the end of its life.  In response to the latter, he was not aware of large property sales except for pre 1993 Breckland tenants who still had the right to buy their council houses the income of which was used to fund other properties.  In terms of affordability, funding also came forward from other sources such as S106 monies, Community Infrastructure levies etc.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services said that he had spoken to the Joint Deputy Planning Manager who had explained the quota of affordable housing figure requirement in Local Plan Policy.  This, in his opinion, was stifling development and he felt that more housing would be built if this requirement was abandoned.  The Joint Deputy Planning Manager added that Breckland was at best delivering between 20% and 25% of affordable housing on larger sites compared to its 40% affordable housing target; however, the report had indicated that the level of need at 40% was still required.  The next step was to have a new Local Plan viability test to see if the amount/quota remained deliverable.  Councillor Kybird pointed out that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58/13

59/13

Breckland Pest Control Services (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report of Elizabeth Gould, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report requested Members’ approval to withdraw from the Pest Control Service with affect from 1 April 2014.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman made reference to the comments made by the Commission at its meeting on 18 July 2013.  A presentation had been provided followed by a healthy debate and many concerns had been expressed.  The Commission had agreed that the proposal to withdraw the Pest Control Service should not be supported.  Concerns had also been raised about people who were troubled by rats from a neighbouring property where the neighbour was not willing to pay to have the problem treated.  It would therefore be incumbent of the Council to take action which, in the long run, would not save the Council money.

 

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services said that this was a really difficult subject and she could see the problems from both sides.  In response to the Commission’s concerns she advised that there were provisions in place for problems that were caused by neighbouring properties. Members were reminded that the Council was trying to balance its budget and difficult decisions would have to be made; additionally, the results from the ‘Could We Should We’ consultations should not be ignored, otherwise what was the point of carrying out such an exercise.

 

Councillor Duigan asked the Commission Chairman if Members, when they rejected the proposal, had come up with an alternative of how this money could be saved elsewhere.  The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman said that they had not as the debate had not mentioned the finances of the Council and felt that the recommendation should have been worded as such.

 

Councillor Gilbert also urged the Cabinet not to support the recommendation.  The Pest Control Service was vital for those people who had problems and it was money well spent to help eradicate such pests.  He was in full support of the Commission’s recommendation.

 

The Executive Member for Localism, Community and Environmental Services asked Members to take note of the ‘Could We Should We’ results.  It was also noted that there were other mechanisms available that dealt with neighbours’ rats.

 

Councillor Armes said that she felt very strongly about this matter and felt that there was not much weight behind the ‘Could We Should We’ consultation. She asked how much the service cost per household as she was certain that if the service was stopped people would start trying to extinguish vermin themselves by using harsh chemicals that could cause damage to the environment.  She also had concerns about rats in general in public open space.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services asked what powers Environmental Health had with such matters.  Members were informed that the Law Enforcement Power Act allowed the Council to serve notice on any landowner to require treatment on land, or require/impose a charge on property.  The Environmental Services Manager advised that such powers were used fairly infrequently and further advised that it would be impossible to eradicate all rats.  The Executive Member for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59/13

60/13

Procurement of Norfolk Dry Recyclables (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 123 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Localism, Community & Environmental Services presented the report that asked Members to accept the collaborative procurement for the Norfolk Dry Recyclables Processing Contract.

 

In summary the joint venture proposal would provide the Council’s involved with:

 

§               a lower gate fee than existing;

§               a profit share rate that was higher than in the existing contract (subject to market variations);

§               higher levels of recycling through:

Ø      a larger range of materials to be recycled at the kerbside than was currently the case.  In Breckland the additional materials that would be able to be recycled within the black wheeled bin would include:

              glass;

              a wider range of cardboard related materials e.g. food packaging card, carrier trays, tetra-pak type containers;

              a wider range of plastics e.g. plastic rigid containers such as food pots, tubs and trays;

Ø      improved capture rates of existing recyclable materials;

Ø      potential reductions in contamination (as more materials will be able to be dealt with);

§               less waste to landfill resulting in carbon equivalent savings;

§               greater flexibility and measure of control over service changes;

§               joint management and control of risks presented through legislative, compositional and material market price changes, quality and contamination fluctuations over the ten year period.

 

The Executive Member for Localism, Community & Environmental Services pointed out that Breckland Council would be much better off financially if maximum assumptions on tonnage were met.

 

The Chairman stated that negotiations had been kept as simple as possible and that it was very good news that everyone would be able to recycle a great deal more.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman said that Breckland Council must liaise with its Parish Councils in relation to their community bring-banks particularly in regard to glass.  On the subject of recycling, he asked if road sweeping would continue.  Members were informed that statistics had shown that bottle-banks in villages would still be supported.  In response to the latter, it was noted that the road sweeping service was under review.  Councillor Armes raised concerns about the income that Parish Councils relied on by having these community bring-banks.  It was noted that the Executive Member for Localism, Community & Environmental Services had this matter in hand.

 

The Executive Member for Assets & Strategic Development thought that this new contract was a ‘no-brainer’ and fully supported the recommendation and also welcomed the wider range of recyclables and profit made by this scheme. 

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services also supported the idea of public partnership as it did tend to drive down costs and he was pleased that there were no employee liabilities at the end of the contract; however, he was aware that the consortium would be at the mercy of the waste market.  Referring to the glass recycling, he asked how this would be sorted if it was put in the same bin as other recycling materials.  Inn relation to the Parish Councils he felt that 12 months would be a suitable weaning off period.

 

The Chairman pointed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60/13

61/13

Reference from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To consider references, if any, from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 18 July 2013.

Minutes:

See Minute Nos. 58/13 and 59/13 above where these matters had already been discussed.

62/13

Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 13 June 2013.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Anglia Revenues & Benefits Partnership meeting held on 13 June 2013 be adopted.

63/13

Next Meeting (Agenda item 13)

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Tuesday, 17 September at 9.30am in the Anglia Room.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 17 September in the Anglia Room at 9.30am were noted.