Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

Collection for Priscilla Bacon Hospice

Following a collection for Priscilla Bacon Hospice on behalf of Councillor Keith Martin’s daughter, Amanda who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2019, and a short speech by the Chairman, the meeting commenced.

Point of Order

Before the meeting started, Councillor Birt raised a Point of Order in respect of not receiving the exempt reports for agenda items 22 and 23 of the agenda within the legal time frame.  Mark Stinson, the Executive Manager for Governance advised that the lack of information provided to an individual Member did not invalidate the proceedings.  He would; however, follow up his concern.

19/20

Apologies (Agenda item 1)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ashby, Clarke, Grey, Harvey, James, Kiddell, Kiddle-Morris, Nairn, Nunn and Oliver. 

 

Councillor Borrett left part way through the meeting to attend to other business.

20/20

Minutes (Agenda item 2) pdf icon PDF 108 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2020.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

21/20

Declaration of Interests (Agenda item 3)

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.

 

Minutes:

None declared.

22/20

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4) pdf icon PDF 35 KB

Minutes:

Guidance from Public Health England in respect of the Coronavirus was read aloud and Members were informed of the steps that Breckland Council was taking.

 

The Chairman mentioned her community afternoon tea event taking place on 24 April 2020 and urged those Members who had not put forward any nominees from their Ward to do so.

23/20

Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

To receive a verbal update from Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of the Council.

Minutes:

Firstly, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, the Leader of the Council acknowledged the success of the recent Town & Parish Forum and thanked the 49 District, Parish and Town colleagues representing approximately 20 communities who had attended. It had been an informative evening where all attendees had been provided with an update on all the successes of the Council during the previous year as well as setting out what the Council was looking to achieve in the future. Breckland Council was thanked for the great work it was doing to help its residents and businesses. The Leader hoped that even more Town & Parish Council colleagues would be encouraged to attend next year.

In terms of the finances, there would be challenges ahead, with uncertainty around Fairer Funding and Business Rates Retention.  Whilst the Council was in a strong position due to its decisions in the past, there was no doubt that difficult choices would need to be made if funding was reduced as already predicted for future years.  Further details was set out in the budget papers within this agenda.

He felt that as the financial year 2019-20 drew to a close it was important to reflect on what had been achieved or set in motion throughout the year. It was also important to look forward as a Council on what it needed to achieve in the coming year to ensure that it continued to deliver to Breckland’s residents.

The key highlights of 2019-20 were reported as follows:

Breckland Council was the only Local Authority in Norfolk that had an adopted Local Plan.

It had declared a Climate Emergency in September 2019 and was working to deliver an Environment and Climate Strategy in late spring of 2020.

The Council had invested £60k in the installation of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology in Breckland to support Norfolk Constabulary to detect, deter and disrupt criminal activity in the District particularly county lines.

It had been successful in securing £14.1 million in Housing Infrastructure Funding which would help unlock the power issues that were inhibiting the development of the Thetford Enterprise Park and 5,000 new homes at Kings Fleet also in the Greater Thetford area.

The Council had secured £3.5 million in funding from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and the Norfolk Business Rates Pool to expand the current electricity supply capacity at the Snetterton Employment Area with a view to supporting substantial industrial business growth.

It had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Flagship Group and Norfolk County Council to work together to deliver a meaningful change for the future direction of the Abbey Estate in Thetford. It had also made a commitment to an ongoing dialogue with the local community to understand what mattered most to residents and other estates in the town.

The Council had restructured its existing Market Town Initiative and committed to further funding for another three years to the sum of £750k over that period, and would commit to giving £50k per annum out of this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/20

24/20

Questions on Notice under Standing Order No 6 (Agenda item 6)

The following question has been received from Councillor Jermy:

 

Could the Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Alison Webb, confirm the average time taken to process applications to join the Breckland housing list for the current and previous financial years (to be reported as separate years).

 

Minutes:

A question on Notice from Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group (see below), had been received by the Council in accordance with Standing Order No. 6.

 

Maxine O’Mahony, the Executive Director for Strategy & Governance read aloud the question from Councillor Jermy.

 

“Could the Cabinet Member for Housing confirm the average time taken to process applications to join the Breckland housing list for the current and previous financial years (reported as separate years)”?

 

The response had been circulated to all Members before the meeting commenced in accordance with Standing Order No. 6.

 

Councillor Alison Webb, the Executive Member for Health & Housing also read aloud her response:

 

“The Home Connections system was not configured in such a way as to enable the confirmation of the average time taken to process applications to join the Breckland housing list.  To produce this information would require each individual application for the last two years to be checked manually and would therefore be significantly time consuming. 

 

The Council was looking at how this information could routinely be collated in the future. 

 

The time taken to process applications to join the Breckland housing list was dependent on a number of factors including: the service provided by this authority but also the input from external agencies and third parties and the supply of evidence and supporting documentation by residents. 

 

Councillor Webb pointed out that if there was a specific case that Cllr Jermy was interested in then she would be happy to arrange for further information to be provided on this matter”.   

25/20

Questions without Notice under Standing Order No 7 (Agenda item 7)

Minutes:

Councillor Bowes asked the Leader if he would join her in thanking Officers for their swift response in respect of the recent fire in Watton High Street.  The Leader pointed out that the Council was still providing assistance to the residents whose homes and businesses had been damaged by the fire.  He had been overwhelmed by the community cohesion and the support offered by many people and other businesses in the town and he asked Rob Walker, the Executive Director of Place to pass on his thanks to all Officers involved.  A letter had already been sent to the Norfolk Fire Service thanking them for their unprecedented assistance on the night. Councillor Gilbert, a Ward Representative of Watton, felt that from his point of view this showed the Council at its best. 

 

Councillor Gilbert raised the recent announcement made by central government about councils having to meet the 2023 deadline for the introduction of separate food waste collections.  He felt that Breckland Council should concentrate its efforts on an education campaign to look at waste and how to save money.  The Leader advised that Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Environmental Services & Public Protection would be taking the lead on this and would be looking at ways this matter should be dealt with.  The Council was currently working with Norfolk Waste Partnership on an educational piece and food waste was at the forefront of DEFRA’s Resource & Waste Strategy. It had already been noted that if the Government did make this change increased central government funding would be essential.

 

Councillor Brindle commented on public protection and the growing concerns in respect of motorised scooters being used on public footpaths; he pointed out that there were no laws to prevent these scooters being used on UK roads and pavements.  He asked if Breckland Council would look into this issue.  Councillor Bambridge responded that this matter would be added to his Team’s agenda.

 

Councillor Birt reminded Members of the serious IT outage that had occurred on 30 October 2019 at the Council following which he was told that a report would be sent to all Members on this matter.  He had not had sight of such a report and asked when this would be sent.  The Executive Director of Strategy & Governance advised that a cybersecurity presentation would be taking place following the next Full Council meeting.  A report was available but the IT outage was a one-off incident caused by a UPS switch which had now been replaced.

 

A question was then directed to Councillor Robinson, the Executive Member for Community, Leisure & Culture.  Councillor Jermy asked if anything was being done in respect of a report in the local press about EU nationals wanting to remain in Norfolk.  Members were informed that these matters had already been outlined in the Vulnerability report within the Council Agenda and the Communities Team had already been working with migrant communities, particularly in Thetford.  Councillor Robinson thanked Councillor Jermy for his question and a more detailed response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25/20

26/20

Cabinet (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 3 February 2020.

Minutes:

Councillor Atterwill mentioned the fact that the questions that he had asked at this meeting had not been recorded.  The Leader advised that these would be reflected in the Minutes at the next Cabinet meeting.

 

a)     Inclusive Growth Reserve Commitments (Minute No. 22/20)

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     £1.04million from the Inclusive Growth Reserve be allocated to an aspirational three-year programme of projects and initiatives that will help tackle vulnerability in Breckland.

 

2.     £250,000 per annum from the Inclusive Growth Reserve be allocated to the Market Town Initiative up to and including the financial year 2022/23.

 

b)     Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 3 February 2020 be adopted.

27/20

Planning Committee (Agenda item 9)

27/20a

13 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 13 January 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 13 January 2020 be adopted.

27/20b

10 February 2020 pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 10 February 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 10 February 2020 be adopted.

28/20

Licensing Committee (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 28 January 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 28 January 2020 be adopted.

29/20

Committee of the Licensing Authority (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Unconfirmed minutes of the Committee of the Licensing Authority meeting held on 28 January 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Committee of the Licensing Authority meeting held on 28 January 2020 be adopted.

30/20

Governance & Audit Committee (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Governance and Audit Committee meeting held on 16 January 2020.

Minutes:

a)     Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2020-21 (Minute No. 13/20)

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     the Treasury Management Strategy 2020-21 to 2023-24 at Appendix Aof the reportbe approved;

 

2.     the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) statement contained within Appendix Aof the reportwhich sets out the Council’s policy on MRP be approved;

 

3.     the Prudential & Local Indicators and limits contained within Appendix A(Tables 1-11) of the report be approved;

 

4.     the Investment Strategy 2020-21 (Appendix Bof the report) and the detailed criteria included in Appendix B1of the reportbe approved; and

 

5.     the Treasury Management Policy at Appendix B2of the reportbe approved.

 

b)     Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee meeting held on 16 January 2020 be adopted.

31/20

Member Development Panel (Agenda item 13) pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To note the Minutes of the Member Development Panel meeting held on 21 January 2020.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Member Development Panel held on 21 January 2020 were noted.

 

Councillor Birt said that he had not received a copy of the agenda for this meeting and was unclear whether he was allowed to attend the Panel meetings.  The Executive Manager for Governance explained that under the circumstances, Councillor Birt would not have received a copy of the agenda as a non-member but all Members were allowed to attend any meeting of the Council.

32/20

Budget Setting, medium term plan and capital strategy 2020-21 (Agenda item 14) pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Report of Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Philip Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth provided Members with a detailed overview of the report. 

 

Referring to paragraph 1.2 of the report, Members were informed that Parliament had agreed the Local Government Finance Settlement on 24 February 2020.

 

Under paragraph 1.4, although 2019-20 was supposed to be the final year of the Government’s four-year Settlement, a further one-year Settlement had been announced.  This had been as a consequence of the delay to the planned changes in respect of the Fair Funding Review and 75% Business Rates retention which had been delayed until April 2021; however, there was still a real risk to this Council that the Government could reset this date.

 

In respect of the Fair Funding Review highlighted under paragraph 1.6, Members were informed that the Council had taken a very prudent approach to its budget setting and had not relied on this funding.

 

Under paragraphs 1.7 to 1.10 relating to Spending Review, New Homes Bonus and Revenue, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth was pleased that the Council had a balanced budget going forward but there had been some cost pressures that the Council had had to face in 2019-20 and would have to face in 2020-21 moving forward.  These cost pressures had led to an efficiency requirement to balance the budget. And although the values had been highlighted in the table at paragraph 1.10 of the report, it was important to note that these values were only estimates and the Council had made a fair and reasonable provision going forward.

 

Members’ attention was then drawn to paragraph 1.11 of the report where it highlighted the principles that the budget had been based on.

 

The Executive Member for Finance & Growth thanked the two key Officers in attendance and offered his thanks to the remainder of the Finance Team.  He then commended the budget to Members for approval.

 

Councillor Wickerson endorsed the aforementioned comments and congratulated everyone involved.  He mentioned the fact that over 40% of the budget was made up of salaries and asked if he could be reminded of the split between the shared Officers at Breckland and South Holland District Council. The Chief Executive explained that the split was predominately 60/40 with Breckland Council but the split varied dependent on workloads.

 

Councillor Atterwill echoed the above thanks to the Officers but paid particular thanks to Alison Chubbock, the Chief Accountant & Deputy S151 Officer who had spent a great deal of time explaining the budget to Members.  He referred to the Council losing rental income from a significant tenant as mentioned in the report and asked what the Council’s strategy was on this matter.  Members were informed that the Council did have a back-up in the budget. Councillor Hewett, the Executive Member for Contracts & Assets advised that there were on-going conversations with an investor in this commercial property and Members would be updated once more information was known.

 

Councillor Gilbert also thanked the Chief Accountant and the Finance Team for the budget briefing and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32/20

33/20

Council Tax Setting 2020-21 (Agenda item 15) pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Report of Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman reminded Members that if they were two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax, they must disclose the fact and not vote on any item to set tax or any decision which may affect its calculation.

 

Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth presented the Council Tax setting report and commended the two recommendations to Council.

 

A recorded vote was taken and it was:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.           the special expenses for 2020-21 (at paragraph 1.3 of the report) be       approved; and

 

2.               the formal Council Tax resolutions for 2020-21 (at paragraph 1.4.1 to 1.4.5 of the report as set out below) be approved.

 

1.4.1    It is to be noted that on 27 February 2020 the Council has calculated: -

 

a)     the Council Tax Base 2020-21 for the whole Council area as 44,013.2 (item T in the regulations made under Section 33(5) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended) and

 

b) for dwellings in those parts of its area to which a Parish precept relates as      in the attached Appendix A.

 

1.4.2    Calculate that the Council Tax requirement for the Council’s own purposes for 2020-21 (excluding Parish precepts) is £4,201,500.

 

1.4.3    That the following amounts be calculated by the Council for the year 2020-21 in accordance with Sections 31 to 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended (the Act):-

 

a)

£77,759,244

being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the expenditure items set out in Section 31A(2) of the Act;

 

b)

£69,299,070

being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the income items set out in Section 31A(3) of the Act;

 

c)

£8,460,174

being the amount by which the aggregate at 1.4.3(a) above exceeds the aggregate at 1.4.3(b) above, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 31A(4) of the Act, as its Council Tax requirement for the year;

 

d)

£192.22

being the amount at 1.4.3(c) above, divided by the amount at 1.4.1(a) above, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 31B(1) of the Act, as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year (including Parish precepts);

 

e)

£4,332,616

being the aggregate amount of all special items (including Parish precepts) referred to in Section 34(1) of the Act (as per the attached Appendix Aof the agenda);

 

f)

£93.78

being the amount at 1.4.3(d) above less the result given by dividing the amount at 1.4.3(e) above by the amount at 1.4.1(a) above, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 34(2) of the Act, as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year for dwellings in those parts of its areas to which no special item relates;

 

g)

The figures shown in Appendix Bof the report, being the amounts given by adding to the amount at 1.4.3(f) above the amounts of the special item or items relating to dwellings in those parts of the Council's area mentioned above divided in each case by the amount at 1.4.1(b) above,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33/20

34/20

Corporate Plan Refresh 2020 (Agenda item 16) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Sarah Suggitt, the Executive Member for Governance provided Members with a detailed overview of the Corporate Plan which set out the Council’s ambition and the themes that underpinned all the activities the Council undertakes.

 

The current Corporate Plan 2019-23 had been adopted in February 2019 and would come to the end of its life in March 2023.  As the Plan had been in place for a year it was therefore timely to look at an annual refresh to ensure that the Plan remained fit for purpose for the remainder of its time.

 

Appendix B of the report set out the proposed amendments to the critical activities for the next year.  These had been developed through feedback from the Cabinet, Overview & Scrutiny Commission, Executive Management Team and Senior Management engagement.  All views had been taken into account.

 

Councillor Atterwill was disappointed that the Overview & Scrutiny Commission Minutes had not been included on the Agenda as these reflected the points made at that meeting in respect of the Corporate Plan.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     the contents of the report and its appendices be noted; and

 

2.     the Council formally adopts the proposed amendments to the Corporate Plan for the period 2020-2023.

35/20

Pay Policy Statement 2020/21 (Agenda item 17) pdf icon PDF 143 KB

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Governance.

 

Minutes:

The Executive Director for Governance presented the Pay Policy Statement.

 

The Pay Policy Statement was a statutory requirement and had already been considered by the Overview & Scrutiny Commission at its meeting on 6 February 2020.

 

RESOLVED that the Pay Policy Statement 2020/21 be approved.

36/20

Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 18)

To receive nominations for any changes to Committee and other seats from political groups.

 

Local Plan Working Group

 

Councillor Paul Claussen, the Deputy Leader & Executive Member for Planning to replace Councillor Gordon Bambridge as Chairman of the Local Plan Working Group.

Minutes:

Local Plan Working Group

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     Councillor Gordon Bambridge, the Executive Member for Environmental Services & Public Protection be replaced by Councillor Paul Claussen, the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Planning as Chairman of the Local Plan Working Group; and

 

2.     Councillor Jane James be appointed as Vice-Chairman.

37/20

Amendments to the Constitution (if any) (Agenda item 19)

Minutes:

None received.

38/20

Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent (Agenda item 20)

NOTE: No other business is permitted unless by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the Chairman is of the opinion that the items(s) should be considered as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

39/20

Exclusion of Press & Public (Agenda item 21)

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.”

 

Part B – Item from which the press and the public are excluded

Minutes:

Subject to one abstention, it was

 

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 and 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

40/20

Contracts & Procurement Officer Post (Agenda item 22)

Report of Councillor Paul Hewett, Executive Member for Contracts & Assets and Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director for Strategy & Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Paul Hewett, the Executive Member for Contracts & Assets presented the report.  It was noted that this post had been essential to over achieving the original targets and significant savings had been made.

 

Subject to one abstention from Councillor Birt, it was

 

RESOLVED that the role of the Contracts and Procurement Officer (shared) be made a permanent post.

41/20

Worksmart 20:20 - Terms & Conditions (Agenda item 23)

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Governance and Maxine O'Mahony, Executive Director Strategy & Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Sarah Suggitt, the Executive Member for Governance presented the report.  The key points and changes were highlighted.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Wickerson who fully supported the recommendations, Members were informed that the financial costs had been included in the new budget. 

 

Councillor Birt queried section 1.24 of the report in respect of car allowance and pointed out that community car drivers were paid less per mile.  In response, the HR Manager pointed out that the Councils rates were the standard NJC rates and were not really comparable to voluntary drivers.

 

Councillor Hewett commended the recommendations as part of the WorkSmart 20:20 programme.

 

Councillor Birt pointed out that the link provided to the WorkSmart 20:20 programme on the Members’ page did not work as it was linked to the intranet that Members did not have access to.  This matter would be investigated.

 

The Chairman said that a timetable had been circulated to all Members via email about new venues and times of the meetings from 18 May to 5 July 2020.

 

Councillor Atterwill asked if a comparison had been carried out with other Councils in Norfolk on the mileage rates.  The Executive Director of Governance pointed out that the mileage rates were not changing and therefore would remain the same.

 

Subject to one vote against the recommendations, it was

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     Option 2 (Paragraph 3.2 Parts A, B & C of the report) be approved;

Part A of the report: Policy Changes

Part B of the report: Annual leave changes

Part C of the report: Terms and Conditions

 

2.     the recommendations be approved and implemented to take effect in accordance with the options and associated implementation dates in paragraph 3.2 of the report; and

 

3.     Delegated authority be given to the Executive Director of Strategy & Governance, the Deputy Leader and the Executive Member for Governance to incidental and subsidiary action and decisions required to implement the changes.