Agenda and minutes

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

Items
No. Item

Welcome to new Executive Members

The Chairman welcomed Councillors Dimoglou and Wilkinson as new Cabinet members with responsibility for Finance and Governance respectively.

71/15

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2015.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2015 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

72/15

Apologies (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

None.

73/15

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.

74/15

Declaration of Interests (Agenda Item 4)

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate and must leave the room, for the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. 

 

In the interests of transparency, Members may also wish to declare any other interests they have in relation to an agenda item, that support the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

For transparency Councillor Turner declared an interest in Agenda Item 18 as Ward Representative for Shipdham.

75/15

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:

The Chairman welcomed Councillors Bambridge, Borrett, Cowen, Duigan, Hollis and Newton.

76/15

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda Item 6)

Minutes:

The Chairman notified the following changes to Committees:

 

ARP Joint Committee

Councillor Dimoglou to replace Councillor Wassell

Councillor Wassell to be a second Substitute Member

 

Local Plan Working Group

Councillor Charles Carter to be appointed a member of the Group.

77/15

Breckland Community Funding Applications (Agenda Item 7)

To consider the grants put forward (if any) from Share Point the on-line grant process.

Minutes:

No applications to consider.

 

The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for People & Information thanked the Council for the six grants of up to £500 given for the Tour of Britain. 

 

The Executive Member for Finance thanked the Council for the £30,000 grant for a play area in Hardingham.

78/15

Quarter 1 Financial Performance Report 2015-16 (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report by Ellen Jolly, Executive Member for Income & Prosperity.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Income & Prosperity presented the report which gave information on the variances on the Revenues Budget.  She pointed out an amendment to the recommended virements on page 15 at Table 4 which were a Cabinet, not a Council decision.

 

Options

 

1.     To approve the recommendations

2.     To approve some or none of the recommendations

 

Reasons

 

To provide timely information to Members on the overall finances of the Council and to make the best use of resources available, anticipating future years’ expenditure.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)     the report and appendix be noted;

2)     the revenue virements in section 1 of the appendix be approved; and

3)     the capital virement in section 2 of the appendix be approved.

79/15

Business Rates Relief - Town Centres (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Report by Ellen Jolly, Executive Member for Income & Prosperity.

 

Maps will be the circulated on the day.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Income & Prosperity presented the report which proposed a pilot discretionary rate relief scheme to help certain new businesses in Dereham which met eligibility criteria.  The proposal was in preliminary format and the details would be determined in liaison with the Town Council and the Business Forum.

 

The Executive Member for Public Protection asked if the scheme could be rolled out to other areas if the pilot was successful.  The Executive Manager Growth confirmed that it might and explained that there would be further reports to Members once a more comprehensive examination of the possible initiatives to support Market Towns had been carried out.

 

Councillor Borrett supported the proposal to regenerate the Town centre and thought the Council could make a real difference.

 

Councillor Duigan asked if there was any opportunity to extend the scheme to encourage buy-in from local businesses.  He was advised that there was the potential for flexibility but the pilot was intended to run for 12 months.

 

The Executive Member for Place asked how the success of the scheme would be measured and the Executive Manager Growth advised that success would be judged by the reduction in the number of vacant units and charity shops in the identified zones.


OPTIONS

 

Option 1          Introduce a pilot discretionary business rate relief scheme for certain new retail businesses in Dereham. The scheme would commence in April 2016 for a 12 month period. It would offer up to 80% business rates relief for the pilot period and would be targeted at new businesses that meet all eligible criteria. The scheme as a whole would be reviewed on an annual basis.  Financial details of the scheme are shown within the attached appendix to the report.

 

Option 2          Do nothing; continue to offer the current schemes of retail relief, small business relief and the Government empty premises relief.  Details of the scheme are shown on the attached appendix to the report.

 

REASONS

 

1.     We have a clear corporate commitment to help our market towns to thrive in order that they in turn provide the required support to surrounding villages and hinterlands. We recognise that Breckland’s market towns need to be vibrant and busy, offering an interesting and enjoyable experience to visitors.  Out of town and online shopping have drawn many people away from town centres. Thus, businesses find it hard to sustain a presence on the high street. High rents, competition and business rates add to the problem. The result is void premises, a preponderance of charity shops in some town centres and low quality retail offer in others.

 

2   Breckland has an important role in facilitating the renaissance of its town centres. There are a number of ways in which it can be a catalyst of change and these will be described in a future report. However, it is important to be seen to act quickly in support of Dereham’s town centre. To this end, Members are asked to agree to the introduction of a discretionary retail  ...  view the full minutes text for item 79/15

80/15

Joint ARP Debt Management and Recovery Policy (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Report by Ellen Jolly, Executive Member for Income & Prosperity.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Income & Prosperity presented the report which sought to introduce an ARP wide Policy for all seven partners to address recent changes in legislation.

 

The Chairman asked if any of the Partner Councils had already approved the proposal and the ARP Strategic Manager (Revenues) advised that West Suffolk and Fenland had already done so.

 

OPTIONS

 

1.     To approve the Policy set out in Appendix A

2.     Not to approve the Policy set out in Appendix A and to continue using existing Policies.

 

REASONS

 

1.     To provide a consistent policy across all seven partners of the ARP.  Continuing with separate policies would not be efficient given the shared provision of Revenues collection across the partnership.

2.     To update the policy in this area in order to make clear to customers what the recovery process entails.

 

RESOLVED that the Policy set out in Appendix A to the report be approved.

81/15

New Legislative Responsibilities for Enforcement (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report by Charles Carter, Executive Member for Growth.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Growth presented the report which set out the Council’s legislative requirements with regard to enforcement.  He noted that Tim Mills, Interim Housing Manager would be leaving on 30 September 2015 and thanked him for the work he had done and the projects he had managed during his short time with the Council.

 

OPTIONS

 

The Council had responsibilities within the three pieces of legislation.  It had discretion to:

 

1.     Vary the fine under the Redress Scheme;

2.     Determine whether and when to use its powers under the Control of Horses Act; and

3.     To set and recover a penalty charge where there was a breach of Carbon Monoxide regulations.

 

REASONS

 

1.     Delegation needs to be given to Officers to undertake the enforcement activity. For operational reasons it is suggested this be to the Housing Service Manager, Principal Housing Officer and Private Sector Housing Team Leader or their equivalent in future.

 

2.     The Redress Scheme legislation is aimed at agents and property managers who it is reasonable to expect will have the capability to comply with the legislation. It is therefore unlikely that circumstances would arise where the Council would wish to exercise discretion to reduce the fine. However it is considered prudent to provide the ability to the enforcing officers in exceptional circumstances.

 

3.     The Control of Horses legislation provides a power not a duty on the Council. The retention and disposal of one or more horses could be a significant resource burden both in terms of personnel and finance for Breckland DC. As owners and occupiers of public land have a similar power to the District Council it is considered that it is reasonable to expect those responsible for the land to deal with issues arising upon it. This is in line with other environmental legislation. It is proposed that Breckland District Council would only consider using this power where there is land in a public place where no ownership can be established and to land in the Councils ownership and/or occupation.

 

4.     Unlike the Redress Scheme under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide regulations there appears to be an expectation that the appropriate penalty charge may differ depending on the circumstances of the case. It is therefore not possible to define specifically the fine which should be applied. It is therefore proposed that the authority to set and recover a penalty charge should be delegated to the Housing Services Manager, Principal Housing Officer and Private Sector Housing Team Leader or their equivalent in future in consultation with the Council’s Legal Officer(s) and in accordance with the Council’s Enforcement Policy

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     the Council delegate to the Housing Manager, Principal Housing Officer and Private Sector Team Leader authority to enforce the following legislation:
a)         The Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property
            Management Work (Requirement to belong to a Scheme etc.)
            (England) Order 2014
b)         Control of Horses Act 
c)         Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015;

2.     the fine to be levied for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 81/15

82/15

Introduction of Fees for Certain Residential Caravan Sites (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Report by Charles Carter, Executive Member for Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Growth presented the report which sought to introduce fees for certain commercial residential caravan sites.  The fees would be levied on a cost-recovery basis in line with neighbouring Authorities.

 

OPTIONS

 

1.     The Council had the option of whether to charge fees or not

2.     If the Council chose to charge fees it had the option whether to exempt sites

 

REASONS

 

1.     In introducing the legislation the Government has created an expectation that Local Authorities will charge fees. The sites affected are commercial and it is reasonable to expect them to pay the costs of the Local Authority issuing licenses and inspecting as is current practice where similar services are provided by the Local Authority to other businesses.

 

2.     The legislation is aimed at sites run primarily on a commercial basis. The exemptions proposed are designed to exclude sites which do not fit this description

 

3.     The proposals and justifications have been drawn up in accordance with the guidance contained in the Best Practice Guide for Local Authorities on Enforcement of the New Site Licensing Regime 2015 and A Guide for Local Authorities 2014 on setting site license fees, (Department for Communities and Local Government) and are on a cost recovery basis. The methodology to calculate the fees based on the guidance has been developed with the neighbouring authorities of Broadland and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk. The introduction of fees will ensure the Council can resource its obligations on an ongoing basis.

 

4.     There is no requirement in the legislation to consult and the Guidance indicates that the Secretary of State does not consider that this should be necessary. In view of this and that there is clear guidance on the setting of fees which is on a cost recovery basis it is not proposed to consult.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     The Council approve the introduction of fees for the licensing of Relevant Protected Sites; and

2.     The schedule and justification of fees and proposed exemptions be agreed.

83/15

Allocations Policy (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Report by Charles Carter, Executive Member for Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Growth advised that the report updated the Policy and aligned it with current legislation.

 

The Executive Member for Income & Prosperity was pleased to see a written policy for the protection of vulnerable people.

 

The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for People & Information noted that the Housing Team would give a presentation to Members on the Choice Based Lettings Scheme following Council for information.

 

OPTIONS

 

Legislative changes had to be reflected in the Allocations Policy.

 

REASONS

 

1.     It is necessary to include legislative changes into the Allocations Policy particularly those concerning the prioritisation of applications from ex-forces personnel and dependants in certain circumstances and the exceptions to the local connection criteria under “Right to Move”. The government has recommended that authorities consider setting a quota for these moves and that if this is below 1% that they must justify their decision. Officers have considered whether a quota would be appropriate. They are not recommending the setting of a quota at present as they do not believe that sufficient monitoring information is available to make an informed decision. They propose to review this situation once twelve months of data from the new Choice Based Lettings system is available.

 

2.     As well as relaxing the need to have an absolute local connection where an applicant has an offer of employment within Breckland in certain circumstances the Government has stated that it is minded to grant a mandatory additional preference to such applicants. If it does so that change will have to be incorporated within the Allocations Policy so giving prior approval now will allow the change to be made with minimum bureaucracy.

 

3.     Clarification has been given to special circumstances that may be taken into account to allow the allocation of housing to applicants not strictly meeting the local connection where otherwise certain stock may remain empty. An example would be sheltered housing. Furthermore there are circumstances where an applicant may not be able to demonstrate a local connection directly but that may need to receive care from someone who can and there are strong welfare grounds for that person being in Breckland. Clarification has also been given to circumstances where a person may have to relocate due to grounds of personal safety such as fleeing domestic violence, (such arrangements are reciprocal between Housing Authorities). 

 

4.     While the changes proposed are either driven by legislation or minor there is still a requirement to consult with Registered Providers of social housing in the District. A large scale public consultation would appear to be unnecessary given that there are minimal optional changes proposed and the cost would be disproportionate. However it is proposed to make available the report and policy on the website and in our one stops shops and provide the opportunity for comment at the same time as the consultation with Registered Providers.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     the revised Allocations Policy be approved for consultation;

2.     prior approval be given that should the Government bring forward a proposal to grant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83/15

84/15

Office Co-Location with Department of Work & Pensions (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 24 KB

Report by Trevor Carter, Executive Member for Place.

 

Please note that the appendices to this report are strictly private & confidential (please see agenda item 19).

Minutes:

It was noted that the Recommendation had not printed out in the Agenda.  The wording of the recommendation was contained in Option 1.

 

The Executive Member for Place welcomed the proposal which would provide residents with a ‘one stop shop’ for benefits at the Council Offices.  It was noted that the appendices to the report were below the line and if Members wished to discuss those details it would be necessary to pass a resolution to exclude the press and public.

 

The Executive Director Place explained that it was a decision of the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) to move to Council Offices nationally and was linked to the roll-out of Universal Credit.  The move would be a fundamental change as more public would visit the building.  To accommodate the DWP there would be moves for several departments.  The Housing Team would be located close to the DWP to optimise the aim of providing a seamless service. 

 

The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for People & Information thoroughly supported the project and asked that the Age Concern Audit recommendations be taken into account to make the service area dementia friendly and easier for all.

 

Councillor Borrett was keen for the Council to maximise its income but wondered if there would be a knock-on effect of more people visiting the Council increasing demand for face-to-face contact.  He also asked if there would be enough space.

 

The Executive Director Place was not expecting any increase but the service would be reviewed and adapted as necessary.  With regard to space he advised that the building would be close to capacity.

 

Councillor Bambridge also supported the proposal but asked if there could be a bus stop at the office for visitors using public transport.

 

The Executive Director Place pointed out that it was the DWPs decision to move and they had carried out their own risk assessment and would have considered that issue.

 

Councillor Cowen agreed that it was a good idea which would fit with the Council’s transformation agenda.  However, he wondered if the overall effect would be that people would think they were visiting the DWP not the Council. 

 

The Executive Director Place said that was a fair point and that branding would need to be carefully considered to make clear that there were a number of organisations working from the Council’s offices.

 

The Executive Member for Income & Prosperity thought it was important to maintain the integrity of the Council’s ownership whilst working with other Partners to make the public’s experience when visiting a good one.

 

Councillor Duigan pointed out that there was already a bus service which linked the town centre to Tesco’s car park every hour.  He wondered if the change would put pressure on the Council’s car park.  It was confirmed that the need had been assessed and there was sufficient provision for visitors to the DWP.

 

OPTIONS

 

1.     Enter into leasehold agreements with the Department for Work and Pensions for office space at Elizabeth House, Dereham and Breckland Business  ...  view the full minutes text for item 84/15

85/15

Draft Final Central Norfolk Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2015 (Agenda Item 15) pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Report by Charles Carter, Executive Member for Growth.

 

The draft final Central Norfolk Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2015 is attached as a supplement to this agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Growth said that a lot of work had gone into the production of this weighty document.  The good news was that the housing requirement had gone down.  He handed over to the Strategic Planning Manager who introduced Nigel Moore from Opinion Research Services who gave Members a PowerPoint presentation on the draft report and its findings (attached for information).

 

He explained that the report was still in Draft and would be subject to minor changes as it went through each authority’s adoption process.  The Central Norfolk Strategic Housing Market Assessment (CNSHMA) covered the needs of the central Norfolk area for the whole plan period.  The study calculated the numbers needed for the Housing Market Area and then broke it down for each authority.  The process was easy to explain but difficult to implement.

 

The presentation summarised all of the factors that were taken into consideration including area, projections, market signals and objectively assessed need (OAN).  Housing Market Areas were a geographical area where people lived and worked and the best fit for Breckland was with the Norwich Housing Market Area (HMA). 

 

Councillor Cowen felt there was a mismatch between the delivery of homes and the area of need.  There were 6,500 homes due to be delivered in Thetford over the next nine years but they were not in the HMA which was centred on Norwich.

 

Mr Moore explained that housing market areas could not be split and guidance recommended working to the ‘best fit’ which in Breckland’s case was the Norwich HMA. 

 

Councillor Borrett understood the concept of ‘best fit’ but felt that there should be a map in the document which covered the whole of Breckland.  He did not dispute the statistical evidence but asked if such a map could be included.  The Chairman agreed and asked for wording to be added to explain that the figures referred to the whole Breckland area.

 

The Executive Member for Income & Prosperity agreed about the need for a map.  She thanked Mr Moore for his excellent presentation and asked for a copy of the slides to be attached to the Minutes.

 

Councillor Bambridge thought that a case could be made for taking the statistics of people commuting into consideration, as a large number of people did commute in and out of the District.


The Executive Member for Place noted that there were long timescales under consideration and future Policy might affect the way things were looked at; for instance he thought that Devolution might have an effect.

 

Mr Moore agreed but said the big issue was social welfare.  Further welfare reform changes were coming and they would have a knock-on impact although they were not likely to have a major impact on Central Norfolk.  He also accepted that people commuted but if that was taken into consideration it would have an effect on the Duty to Co-operate with other authorities.

 

Councillor Cowen thought there was a link between houses and employment.  There was significant growth in Thetford including  ...  view the full minutes text for item 85/15

86/15

Exclusion of Press & Public (Agenda Item 16)

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, and 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

 

87/15

Acquisition of Land in Shipdham (Agenda Item 17)

Report by Ellen Jolly, Executive Member for Income & Prosperity.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for People & Information declared an interest as Ward Representative for Shipdham and refrained from voting on this item.

 

The Executive Member for Income & Prosperity explained the reasons for the purchase of the piece of land.

 

OPTIONS

 

See report.

 

REASONS

 

See report.

 

RESOLVED that the recommendations at Option 1 be approved.

88/15

Office Co-Location with Department of Work & Pensions (appendices)(Agenda Item 18)

Appendices attached - including financial details and draft plan layout

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was discussed under Minute No 84/15 above.

89/15

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 19)

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held Tuesday, 3 November 2015 at 9.30am in the Anglia Room.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 3 November 2015 at 9.30am in the Anglia Room were noted.