Agenda and minutes

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

Items
No. Item

37.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 13 March 2007.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 13 March 2007 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

38.

Declaration of Interest

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 of prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

Messrs P. D. Claussen, W. H. C. Smith, K. Davis and S. Knights declared an interest in Agenda Item 8 (Minute No. 41/07) and left the room whilst the item was discussed and voted upon.

39.

Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members who wish to address the meeting.

Minutes:

Mr R. F. Goreham – Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

40.

Annual Audit and Inspection Letter pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To receive a presentation from Sue Jewkes, Relationship Manager and Laura Tomlinson, Audit Manager from the Audit Commission.

Minutes:

Mesdames S. Jewkes, Relationship Manager and L. Tomlinson, Audit Manager, from the Audit Commission were in attendance for this item.

 

The main messages for the Council were as follows:-

 

·               Breckland Council had a strong focus on improvement. 70% of Performance Indicators had improved which was above the average of 58% and 42% were in the best quartile which was above the average of 31%.

 

·               Local people were getting some high quality services, especially in benefits and were experiencing improved access to services and information and overall customer satisfaction was improving.

 

·               The impact of migrant workers on the local area had been recognised and steps had been taken to integrate them into the local communities.

 

·               Business and improvement plans matched Council priorities and robust performance management assisted delivery. Capacity had recently been enhanced by key partnerships with both Parkwood Leisure and Capita.

 

·               Strategic Housing was not improving and Cultural Services were judged to be ‘poor’ in a recent inspection.

 

·               There was a lack of engaging and consulting well with older people.

 

·               Risk management, although improving was not fully integrated with performance management framework and annual delivery plans. 

 

·               Senior management capacity had been stretched although this should be resolved when the new Chief Executive takes up his post.

 

·               The Council made proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the year ending 31 March 2006, except for the failure to put arrangements in place to manage its significant business risks.

 

·               Overall corporate governance arrangements were satisfactory but further work was necessary to develop risk management arrangements.

 

Breckland officers were thanked for their assistance and co-operation throughout the audit inspection.

 

In response the Chairman stated that there had been a significant amount of work undertaken in all areas to improve performance, particularly in risk management.  He wished to thank both Members and staff for the increase in the Best Value Performance Indicators.

 

The Executive Member for Cultural Services stated that there were many projects being undertaken to increase participation of older people within the community.   A new Cultural Team had been established and had already set up large scale activities including a partnership with the Theatre Royale to take out into all areas of Breckland.

 

With regard to housing issues the Executive Member for Environment (Housing and Planning) stated that housing was the number one priority in the Direction of Travel Statement.  There had been real progress in relation to homelessness with the establishment of a Young Homeless Forum which had impacted positively on homeless numbers within Breckland.  In addition a Private Landlords Forum had been a success with more private landlords releasing homes for rent.  The Norfolk Sanctuary Scheme had been established which provided safe homes for those fleeing domestic violence and Breckland were actively seeking a domestic violence shelter within the District.

 

Sue Jewkes understood that there was a timing issue with the release of the Audit Inspection Letter and not all improvements could be included within the statement.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Commission  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Housing Allocations Policy pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Report of the Executive Member for Environment (Housing and Planning)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Housing Manager submitted a report which requested the adoption of the Housing Allocations Policy.

 

As the Council was currently re-tendering the contract to administer the housing register on the Council’s behalf an Allocations Policy covering Breckland District Council needed to be in place prior to the commencement of the new contract.

 

Part of the tender requested that the contractor would have to ensure that the register was accessible to all by a variety of different means.

 

It was proposed that the Policy be adopted on an interim basis as the move to a Choice Based Letting in 2007/08 would necessitate a new allocations policy and scheme being adopted.  Extensive consultation would be undertaken with Members, local communities, statutory and non-statutory key stakeholders as part of this process.

 

The housing register would be one single point of reference for all Registered Social Landlords within Breckland.

 

The options were either to adopt or not adopt he Housing Allocations Policy.

 

The reason for the recommendation was that a new allocations policy and scheme was required as part of the introduction of a Choice Based lettings Scheme; Members were requested to adopt the policy as an interim measure to ensure the Council was fulfilling its statutory obligations.  

 

RESOLVED that the Housing Allocations Policy be adopted.

42.

ARP Server Refresh pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Cabinet Office.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Revenues Strategic Manager and Acting Operations Manager (Community/Environment) presented a report which sought Members’ approval to enable the Partnership to refresh its current server and add in additional resilience to its service.

 

Currently the partnership uses a V880 server for processing all revenues and benefits work for the ARP.  The server model was no longer sold by Sun Microsystems and it was deemed to be ‘End of Life’ as it was a discontinued model; although it was still supported and could still be used.  However, following advice from the software supplier this existing single server would not be able to process the increased volume of data when East Cambs joined the partnership.

 

As there was a strong possibility that the partnership could expand during 2007 or 2008 there was a need to purchase a second server which would be suitable for expansion and would reduce risk in the event of the first server failing.

 

Members agreed to support the recommendation as is would allow for expansion and add resilience to delivery a Beacon Status service.

 

The options were either to do nothing and create additional risk to Breckland Council or buy a new (V890) single server

 

The reason for the recommendation was that a new server was required to enable the partnership to continue to grow, provide resilience and reduce the levels of risk.

 

RESOLVED that the procurement to buy a new server for the partnership be approved subject to capital funding being released as detailed in the Proforma B.

 

43.

Food Safety Service Plan 2007-2008 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report of the Executive Member for Environment.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Environment presented the Food Safety Service Plan and requested that Members approve its adoption.  The Team had worked hard during the year and had been active in assisting businesses, lowering risk and therefore cutting down on the need for enforcement.

 

It was noted that the Food Team had been offering courses in different languages to assist the migrant worker population.

 

The Service Plan was designed to make the most effective use of resources and have the maximum impact on food safety in Breckland.

 

The options were to either recommend approval or not to recommend approval of the Food Safety Service Plan 2007/2008.

 

The recommendation was made to ensure that Breckland complied with the Food Standards Agency’s standard and to ensure safe food in Breckland.

 

RESOLVED that the Food Safety Service Plan 2007/2008 be adopted.

44.

Local Government White Paper Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Report of the Executive Member for the Cabinet Office.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office presented a report which set out the Council’s approach to implementing the key proposals in the Local Government White Paper and to approve the White Paper Forward Plan.

 

Members welcomed the reduction in Government targets which could lead to an emphasis on local priorities.

 

It was hoped that the new legislation would allow for Members to speak in all forums on items of interest within their ward.

 

Following a consultation exercise a report had been drafted which suggested a number of different recommendations to assist Members within their roles especially within their wards.  This would be supported through the Community Call for Action which encouraged Members to improve their community leadership role.

 

The options were either approve or not approve the White Paper Forward

 

The reason for the recommendation was that the Forward Plan had been developed to enable the Council to meet the key proposals in the White Paper. 

 

RESOLVED that the White Paper Forward Plan be approved.

 

45.

Reference from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission pdf icon PDF 72 KB

To consider references, if any, from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 5 April 2007.

Minutes:

The other items in the report having being considered under the various items above, the remaining references from the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 5 April 2007 were considered as follows:

 

Members Job Descriptions

 

Members approved the recommendations proposed by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

 

RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL to approve that the new job descriptions be adopted, subject to the following amendments:

 

(1)    the various references within the document that Members should “promote the Council” be amended to “represent and acts as an ambassador for the Council and behave responsibly”;

 

(2)    with regard to the use of IT, this be amended to “use best endeavours to communicate with officers and others through IT (where possible)”;

 

(3)    in respect of Members’ constituency roles, amend fifth bullet-point in paragraph 1 to read “be involved in representation of cross-boundary agencies, as appointed by the Council, and referring back relevant issues (e.g. via the information bulletin and/or the Executive Board)”; and

 

(4)    in Section C (As a Member of Full Council), amend paragraph 4 to read “take any decisions (if necessary) that represent a departure from the agreed policies and budget”;

 

(5)         some typographical and grammatical corrections.

 

Review of Outside Bodies

 

Members approved the recommendations proposed by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

 

RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL to:

 

(1)    retain District Council representation on all existing outside bodies, with the exception of the Swaffham & District St Raphael Club;

 

(2)    proactively consider requesting representation on other bodies that the Council is presently not represented on but which would help broaden and cement community ties;

 

(3)    ensure that when annual selection of representatives to serve on outside bodies is undertaken that due consideration is given to appointing suitably qualified, experienced and knowledgeable members; and

 

(4)    encourage outside body representatives to feed back information on their activities to the rest of the Council by the most appropriate method(s) possible, whether this be via the Members Information Bulletin, scrutiny panels or other appropriate routes; and

 

(5)    notwithstanding (4) above, that all outside body representatives produce a brief account of their activities (unless they are not the Chairman or lead member on the outside body in question) in an annual report to the last Full Council meeting in the municipal year, commencing in 2007/08.

46.

Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 18 January 2007 and 22 February 2007.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meetings of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership held on 18 January 2007 and 22 February 2007 were noted.

47.

Next Meeting

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet scheduled for 8 May 2007 at 9.30 am.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of Cabinet would take place on 14 May 2007 at 1.30 pm.

48.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

“That under Section 100 (A)(4) 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 may involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to 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 Schedule 12A to the Act.

49.

Commercial Property Rolling Capital Maintenance Fund

Report of the Executive Member for Commercial Services.

Minutes:

The Exec Member for Commercial Services presented a report which detailed an application to top-up the Commercial Property Rolling Capital Maintenance Fund to £100,000 for 2007/2008 as per the Cabinet Approval at its meeting held on 1 March 2005 (Minute No. 54/05 refers).

 

Options available to Members were either to release or not release the funds for the top-up of the Rolling Capital Maintenance Fund.

 

It was recommended that the funds be released to enable Commercial Property to respond to capital works in a more timely manner so that the Commercial Property portfolio is not put at risk.

 

RESOLVED that funds be released to continue the £100,000 per annum Rolling Capital Maintenance Programme.

 

50.

Review of ICT Service Delivery Options

Report of the Executive Member for the Cabinet Office.

Minutes:

The Exec Member for the Cabinet Office presented a report the purpose of which was to set out the options and issues associated with ICT Service Delivery that were available to Breckland Council at the end of the initial term of the contract with Steria Ltd.

 

The options and reasons for the recommendation were detailed in the report.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(1)         the contract with Steria be extended subject to improvements in the company’s reputation within Breckland;

 

(2)         the provision of the ICT Service be internalised at the end of the Steria Contract subject to a further report;

 

(3)         Steria be given an opportunity to improve its standing and reputation within the Authority during 2007;

 

(4)         an immediate re-tendering exercise for a replacement to the Steria Contract not be undertaken; and

 

(5)         a decision be made in December 2007 on the action to be taken at the end of the current contract in May 2008.