Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual meeting via Zoom

Contact: Democratic Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Media

Items
No. Item

Vice-Chairman in the Chair

The Chairman of the Council, Councillor Lynda Turner had sent her apologies.

 

Councillor Brame, the Vice-Chairman in the Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and read aloud the protocol for the meeting.

15/21

Apologies (Agenda item 1)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Lynda Turner, Chairman of the Council, and Councillors Carter, Dale and Duffield.

16/21

Minutes (Agenda item 2) pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 21 January 2021.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 January 2021 were confirmed as a correct record.

17/21

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.

18/21

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4) pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Minutes:

None.

19/21

Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

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

 

Minutes:

The Leader was delighted to speak to Members so soon after the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) latest announcement in respect of his road map and his plans for getting England out of lockdown over the next few months.

 

He had welcomed the PM’s proposals that would help people in Breckland and across the Country to gradually return to, what was hoped to be, a normal life, and in time seeing the re-opening of High Streets across all five of Breckland’s market towns including many other rural businesses that had all been doing a sterling job through these most challenging times.

 

This, coupled with the rollout of the Covid vaccine programme, meant that life was starting to look a little brighter.  Members and residents across the District had been immensely grateful to the National Health Service, the Armed Forces and all the other volunteers at the vaccination centres across the County.

 

Throughout the pandemic, Breckland Council’s foremost priority had been to protect the lives and livelihoods of residents and businesses across the District and this would continue. 

 

Breckland Council had distributed over £40m in grants to businesses across the District to help them through this pandemic. This included £2m to over 1,000 local businesses from the Council’s own local discretionary support grant funding pot and, in light of the PM’s announcement, further guidance on any future support was awaited but once received, local businesses would be provided with further support over the coming weeks and months.

 

In the interim, support was still being provided to Breckland’s residents for those in financial hardship, helping them with food and supermarket on-line delivery slots.  Over £60k had been provided thus far and coupled with Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Community Foundation those in need were receiving the required and relevant support.

 

The Leader was also pleased to announce that his future social programme would soon be underway, this would be looking at employability workshops to help highlight how young people and young carers could be transferred into job settings and to ensure that they had access to much needed peer support.  This would be branded under the Council’s ‘Young Carers Extra Support’ programme that would sit under the ‘Vulnerability’ programme which had been launched 12 months ago with £1m funding from this Council.

 

Further to the PM’s announcements, the Senior Management Team and the Cabinet were now reflecting on what Breckland’s roadmap would look like and how the Council was going to operate moving forward.  He urged people to continue to follow the national guidance to keep themselves their loved ones, friends and family safe as it was imperative not to become complacent and lose all that hard work.  Everyone must be patient and wait for their invitation from the NHS to be vaccinated.

 

Outside of Covid, Breckland Council was gearing up with its new waste contract working with its neighbours in Kings Lynn & West Norfolk and North Norfolk.  This was expected to go live in April 2021 and the first of the brand-new waste  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19/21

20/21

Questions on Notice under Standing Order No 6 (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 183 KB

In accordance with Standing Order No. 6, the following question has been received by Councillor Tim Birt and the response will be circulated prior to the meeting:

 

At previous Council the Leader agreed with me that jobs are the best way out of poverty and having work close to where you live benefits both the individual and the environment. Looking at official labour market statistics from the ONS (via nomisweb.co.uk):

 

 

Breckland has plummeted to the bottom in terms of jobs density and our performance has merely 'flat-lined' over the last 5 years; similar charts show Breckland at the bottom in terms of salary. Would the leader provide an explanation of how the Council plans to reverse this disappointing trend?

Should this important 'jobs density' statistic be included as a Breckland KPI (key performance indicator) and be reported regularly to Council?

Minutes:

The Questions on Notice including the responses had been published and circulated to all Members prior to the meeting.

 

The two Members who submitted the questions were invited to ask one supplementary question in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.

 

Councillor Birt thanked the Chairman for arranging the questions and responses to be published on the Council’s website prior to the meeting.

 

He felt that the Leader had not appeared to answer his first question in respect of job density but instead had referred back to an ONS comment that had been made several years ago about an urban comparison between London and Norwich which he felt had nothing to do with Breckland.  He asked the Leader if he believed the ONS density figures and what Breckland was going to do to improve the situation.  Cllr Birt had also noted that the Leader had followed up his question by stating that there would be a key performance indicator review and asked when this would take place and if he would be able to contribute to that. 

 

The Leader informed Members that the KPI review would be undertaken by the Overview & Scrutiny Commission (O&SC).  The Chairman of O&SC was currently working with a Cabinet Member and Officers to look at the KPIs across the District and what was applicable.  Based on his response to the question on notice, the Leader stated that he had not understood the question raised by Cllr Birt and what he was trying to achieve and therefore had attempted to respond accordingly.  Such work was being undertaken with Norfolk County Council, New Anglia LEP and the Chamber of Commerce to ensure that everyone was supporting growth and inward investment within the District, this work continued prior to Covid and would continue.   Members had heard earlier how £42m had been allocated to businesses across the District to ensure that businesses could thrive and as part of Breckland’s roadmap, current employment sites and allocated growth sites were being looked at within the Local Plan.  Work was continuing with the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) and with the Kickstart programme to ensure individuals across the District were able to link up to relevant jobs. 

 

The Leader informed Councillor Birt that if he had a supplementary question, he would be happy to pick this up off-line after the meeting and respond to him in greater detail in respect of his concerns.

 

Councillor Birt raised a supplementary question in response to his second question under this Standing Order regarding the carbon audit report.  At point 2 of the response where it stated that only properties that the Council owned responsible for energy provision were included in the audit report.  Councillor Birt felt that there was some inconsistency in the response provided and asked what the difference was between leisure centres and Barnham Broom Golf & Country Club as both seemed to appear under ‘scope 3 inclusions’ but not much detail had been provided.

 

On point 4, Councillor Birt asked why it had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/21

21/21

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

Minutes:

Councillor Jermy was aware that the Chancellor would be delivering his budget very soon and asked the Leader what he hoped the budget would contain to help the Breckland area, residents and businesses to get back on their feet post Covid.

 

The Leader felt that there would be a great deal of excitement and anticipation around the budget statement made by the Chancellor on 3 March.  For Breckland, he hoped for a further extension to the furlough scheme, an extension to the stamp duty for those trying to get a foot on the housing ladder and a deferral of business rates for those much needed businesses. 

 

Councillor Atterwill directed his question to Councillor Claussen, the Executive Member for Planning.  He stated that the Planning Committee had recently considered a large development in Dereham that had been the subject of much legal correspondence concerning alleged deficiencies in the signed S106 Legal Agreement.  This had not been the first time in recent history that the Breckland community had felt let down by the Council’s management of such Agreements and indeed some had lost out on important amenity space.  To provide Breckland’s communities with renewed confidence in the planning system, he asked Councillor Claussen if he would commit to undertake a thorough internal review of the Council’s S106 processes including the outsourcing of such important work.

 

In response, Councillor Claussen explained that S106 Agreement issues was a non-executive decision, but he would have further dialogue with the Chairman of Planning to take this concern forward. 

 

Councillor Birt’s question was in relation to the New Homes Bonus that had been in place for a number of years.  He appreciated that the Council was removing its reliance to support its revenue budget but when it was launched it stated that it would benefit communities by a reduction in Council Tax, the redevelopment of town centres and improvements to play parks etc - a consequence of excepting the New Homes Bonus.  Also, as part of the scheme it was the communities who would decide how the monies would be spent. He asked if a written response could be provided on whether the communities of Watton, Saham Toney and Carbrooke had been involved in this process, and how much had been collected in those areas over the last 10 years. 

 

The Leader advised Members that the Government was reconsulting on the New Homes Bonus across the whole of the country and Breckland Council was involved in that process along with the District Councillors Network.  Many councils were reliant on their New Homes Bonus for their base budget but Breckland was not.  The Council had been able to deliver some fantastic activities across the District including £750k for the Market Town Initiative, £1m towards the Vulnerability Programme and £300k had been set aside for the Town Delivery Plans, all supported by Breckland’s New Homes Bonus.  It was the role of elected Members to represent their local communities and discuss any ideas or concerns through the correct process,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/21

22/21

Minutes (for information only) (Agenda item 8)

To note the following Committee Minutes:

Minutes:

Members were asked if they had any questions in respect of the following Minutes to raise their hands and direct their questions to the Chairmen accordingly.

22/21a

Cabinet Minutes (for information only) pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To note the unconfirmed minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 1 February 2021.

Minutes:

The recommendation on page 21 of the agenda pack (Minute No. 24/21) – Quarter 3 Financial Performance report 2020-21 would be dealt with under Agenda item 12.

 

The recommendations on page 23 of the agenda pack (Minute No. 25/21) – Budget, Medium Term Financial Plan and Capital Strategy 2021-22 would be deal with under agenda item 9.

 

The recommendations on page 26 of the agenda pack (Minute No. 26/21) – Integrated Shared Management Structure, would be dealt with under agenda item 11.

 

The recommendations on page 26 of the agenda pack (Minute No. 29/21) – Housing Services Review, would be dealt with under agenda item 22.

 

The unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 1 February 2021 were noted.

22/21b

Overview & Scrutiny Commission (for information only) pdf icon PDF 86 KB

1.     To note the confirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 14 January 2021.

 

2.     To note the unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 9 February 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.     The confirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 14 January 2021 were noted.

 

2.     The unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission held on 9 February 2021 were noted.

22/21c

Planning Committee (for information only) pdf icon PDF 96 KB

To note the confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 25 January 2021.

Minutes:

The confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 25 January 2021 were noted.

Statements

The Chairman read aloud the following statement that applied to agenda items 9 and 10.

 

In accordance with The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, a recorded vote is now required at budget meetings.

 

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

23/21

Budget, medium term financial plan and capital strategy (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Report of Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member Finance and Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth presented the report.

Budget setting was a balancing process that juggled variables to deliver a set of outcomes that were designed to deliver best value services and programmes for residents and businesses alike for the year ahead and, where possible, projecting into the future.  Twelve months ago, that was the task for this Council, but little did we know then, how the lives of millions of people around the world would be changed in such a dramatic fashion.

Gathered again in 2021, albeit in a virtual world, to undertake the same, and moreover having had to reset the agreed budget in the autumn to reflect the changed circumstances as a consequence of the pandemic. Team Breckland had worked tirelessly throughout the past year to deliver services, support residents and businesses and in circumstances that none would have believed possible.

The budget setting process this year, as ever, had been challenged at ‘star chambers’, debated at Cabinet and scrutinised by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and now at Full Council. As a result of the various stages that had preceded this meeting, many Members had already seen the content, discussed the various merits of the details contained therein and would be familiar with the report.

The process this year had adopted the same overarching principles as in previous years:

·        Assessing income streams

·        Analysing costs

·        Factoring in government funding

·        Reviewing efficiency options

·        Exploring new challenges

·        Projecting new programmes

However, this time these processes had to be undertaken against the backdrop of the fallout from the pandemic.

Councillor Cowen was pleased to announce with enormous pride that Team Breckland had produced a balanced budget for the year 2021-2022. This achievement had been made without the need for a reduction in the establishment or a dilution in services.  In fact, the reverse, this budget would protect frontline services from cuts, a number of services would be enhanced, an improved waste service, the recruitment of new officers focused on fly tipping, business support, Covid-compliance and support and animal welfare.

The Council had honoured its commitments to its climate change programme and had broadened and enhanced the vulnerability programmes.

In being able to achieve all the above, the Council had utilised some reserves to underpin the budget proposals but without the prudent fiscal management over the past decade this would not have been possible.

This was a balanced budget for the year ahead and in order to maintain service provision, place the district in a place where it could build back stronger and maintain reserves, an increase to the Band D Council tax by £4.95 per annum to £98.73 was being proposed. This would mean that Breckland residents in a Band D property would pay £1.90 per week for the District Council tax but as 75% of residents were in bands A-C their Council Tax would be less.

Budget preparation, at the best of times, was a complex process and this year had brought with it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/21

24/21

Council Tax 2021-22 (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Report of Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member Finance and Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth presented the Council Tax setting report.

 

Council Tax was calculated by adhering to the rules laid out in the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended, as set out in paragraph 1.4 of the report.  The result, as noted in the budget papers, showed that Breckland Band D rate should be set at £98.73 which was an increase of £4.95 per year given the total cost to the Breckland Band D taxpayer, for all the services that Breckland Council provided for approximately £1.90 per week.    

 

He commended the two recommendations to Council.

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded.

 

A recorded vote was taken.

 

NAME

FOR

AGAINST

ABSTAIN

 

 

 

 

Cllr Askew

X

 

 

Cllr Atterwill

X

 

 

Cllr Bambridge

X

 

 

Cllr Birt

X

 

 

Cllr Borrett

X

 

 

Cllr Bowes

X

 

 

Cllr Brame

X

 

 

Cllr Brindle

X

 

 

Cllr Bushell

X

 

 

Cllr M Chapman-Allen

X

 

 

Cllr S Chapman-Allen

X

 

 

Cllr Clarke

X

 

 

Cllr Claussen

X

 

 

Cllr Colman

No response

 

 

Cllr Cowen

X

 

 

Cllr Crane

X

 

 

Cllr Dowling

X

 

 

Cllr Duigan

X

 

 

Cllr Eagle

X

 

 

Cllr Gilbert

X

 

Cllr Grey

X

 

 

Cllr Harvey

X

 

 

Cllr Hewett

X

 

 

Cllr James

X

 

 

Cllr Jermy

X

 

 

Cllr Kiddell

X

 

 

Cllr Kiddle-Morris

X

 

 

Cllr Kybird

X

 

 

Cllr I Martin

X

 

 

Cllr K Martin

X

 

 

Cllr Monument

X

 

 

Cllr Morton

X

 

 

Cllr Nairn

X

 

 

Cllr Nunn

X

 

 

Cllr Oliver

X

 

 

Cllr Robinson

X

 

 

Cllr Sherwood

X

 

 

Cllr Suggitt

X

 

 

Cllr Taylor

X

 

 

Cllr Terry

X

 

 

Cllr Webb

X

 

 

Cllr Wickerson

X

 

 

Cllr Wilkin

X

 

 

Cllr Wilkinson

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL:

42

1

0

 

The Democratic Services Team Leader reported that Councillor Colman was having technical difficulties but had asked that his vote be recorded in favour of the recommendations.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.           the special expenses for 2021-22 (at paragraph 1.3 of the report) be       approved; and

 

2.               the formal Council Tax resolutions for 2021-22 (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 25 February 2021 the Council has calculated: -

 

a)     the Council Tax Base 2021-22 for the whole Council area as 44,446.3 (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 of the report.

 

1.4.2    Calculate that the Council Tax requirement for the Council’s own purposes for 2021-22 (excluding Parish precepts and special expenses) is £4,388,183.

 

1.4.3    That the following amounts be calculated by the Council for the year 2021-22 in accordance with Sections 31 to 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended (the Act):-

 

a)

£84,978,655

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

 

b)

£76,194,003

being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the income items set out in Section 31A(3) of the Act;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24/21

25/21

Integrated Shared Management Structure and Joint Working Arrangements Review – Preferred Option for Breckland and South Holland District Councils (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 185 KB

Report of Nathan Elvery, Head of Paid Service & Strategic Advisor.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Nathan Elvery, the Head of Paid Service & Strategic Advisor presented the report.

 

The report was familiar to most Members as it had been debated at the Joint Strategy Board, Cabinet and at the Overview & Scrutiny Commission.  He thanked all Members for those debates and the comments that had been made both formally and informally. 

 

Members were asked to note the four additional recommendations from 5 to 9 that had stemmed from those conversations, debates and comments that should provide further reassurance to Members about how these decisions would be made in terms of implementing some of the recommendations.  He thanked Members once again for their contributions.

 

It was noted that the recommendations at the recent South Holland Full Council had been approved.

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded.

 

Councillor Birt had made previous representations to Cabinet and to the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and he had explained why the numeric representation within this report to quantify a very wide linear parameter did not work.  He did not agree with the scoring methodology for this new local strategic partnership as it had clearly been given a score on something that Breckland did not have.  He could support some of the recommendations, but he could not agree to the delegation of some of these decisions based on the poor evidence that had been provided. He had no difficulty in supporting the separation from South Holland DC as the distance between the two and the carbon cost of that clearly meant it was more difficult than first thought.  Members had already seen that it was possible for joint working to happen without the necessity for it to be completely tied up with one particular council or group. 

 

He asked whether recommendation no. 5 had been worded correctly as he felt that it should be a recommendation to Council to make an appointment rather than the Joint Appointments Committee. 

 

He also proposed an amendment to recommendation no. 1 and asked for it to be amended to read: “the Council seek new working partners wherever that provides benefit to Breckland residents without specifically tying the Council to any one partner”.

 

The proposal was seconded.

 

Subject to two votes to approve the amendment and 4 abstentions, the vote to amend recommendation no. 1 was lost.

 

Councillor Birt asked for a response to be provided on recommendation 5. 

 

The Executive Manager for Governance advised that in respect of the powers of the Joint Appointments Committee, this Committee did have the authority to appoint all chief officers and deputy chief officers with the exception of the Head of Paid Service and the Chief Executive.  In addition, statutory designations remained with Full Council as it was not the same as making appointments.

 

Councillor Borrett felt that the recommendations should be taken enbloc as there did not appear to be much support for Councillor Birt’s opinions on this report.

 

Councillor Birt felt that he was being put in a position where he would be unable to vote on some of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25/21

26/21

Quarter 3 Financial Performance Report 2020-21 (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth presented the report.

 

In order to prepare a budget, a good understanding was needed in respect of the starting position and thus had to engage in the quarterly financial report process that kept everyone informed as the year progressed of how the Council was performing against previous budget projections.

 

Quarter 3 provided a much clearer picture in this regard and this year had to take into account, not only the original projections, but also the amended budget in the Autumn. Added to this, the implications of the fallout from the pandemic, reduced income, amended programmes, lockdowns, government grants and support packages the Council was left with a situation that looked very different from what had been anticipated.  

 

In financial management training one was always cautioned about ‘carry forwards’ in departmental budgets but this year things were different for reasons that had been explained in the report.  Therefore, in addition to noting the report, there were three recommendations to consider.  These had all been identified in paragraph 1.6 of the report and related to £15m for NNDR relief, the below budget NNDR levy and the NNDR S31 grants all in accordance with local government accounting rules. 

 

The revenue and capital accounts could be found in the tables at Appendix A of the report.  These contained the details and highlighted the significant variances between the original budgeted estimates and the position that the various portfolios now found themselves in. 

 

Given the affect of the pandemic on normal life, the Council had to spend more on some aspects of the revenue account such as legal fees whilst incurring costs relating to the closure of leisure facilities.  Similarly, capital projects had not progressed as swiftly as normal and some had stopped as a consequence of Covid; therefore, there was an underspend of approximately £1m. 

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded, and following a show of hands it was:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.           the income received from the NNDR and Council Tax income compensation scheme be carried forward in reserve to cover the deficits recognised in future years (as detailed in paragraph 1.6 of the report);

 

2.           the NNDR S31 grant for expanded retail relief and nursery reliefs received in 2020-21 is carried forward in reserve to cover the deficits recognised in 2021-22 from the lost income as a result of these NNDR reliefs (as detailed in paragraph 1.6 of the report); and

 

3.           the below budget NNDR levy payment at the end of the year is carried forward in reserve to cover the deficits recognised in future years from the lost income as a result of the pandemic (as detailed in paragraph 1.6 of the report).

 

 

 

27/21

Breckland Sustainability Strategy (Agenda item 13) pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Report of Councillor Ian Sherwood, Executive Member Customer Engagement & Member Champion for Breckland Sustainable Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Ian Sherwood, the Executive Member for Customer Engagement & Member Champion for Breckland Sustainable Strategy presented the report.

 

He felt that this was an incredibly important day for Breckland Council in recognition of all the hard work that had been put in towards what was an exciting programme. He had been delighted to read in the Eastern Daily Press the ambitious 2035 climate change fight plan unveiled and was in respect of what was now going to be discussed and voted upon shortly. 

 

The recommendations were on page 154 of the agenda pack and would be proposed accordingly following a short presentation by the Council’s Senior Policy Advisor, Greg Pearson.

 

In September 2019, Breckland Council became one of only two Councils across Norfolk to recognise that there was an issue and thus a climate emergency was declared. Through this process, the Council had been working towards a date to set net zero and Councillors would be asked to support this ambitious target of 2035 - the Government target was between 2030 and 2050.

 

Members had been kept fully informed of progress through Cabinet meetings, a Members’ Forum in November 2020 and the Overview & Scrutiny Commission; and all Members had been given the opportunity to take part in the discussions.

 

The process and key actions that would ensure success to reach net zero carbon emissions were explained.

 

Councillor Sherwood thanked the 100s of people who had responded to the Climate Change public survey and was delighted that Members would have the opportunity to support the release of £525k that highlighted the Councils commitment to climate action.  This money was going to be spent on various work programmes, details of which could be seen on page 156 of the agenda pack. 

 

The monies that had already been spent and the commitments that had already been made were highlighted:

 

·        £825,000 to replace all the streetlights it owned with LED alternatives which was already reducing energy consumption.

·        £90,000 to fund a new 2-year fixed term Environment and Climate Change Officer.

·        £10,000 to carry out an initial carbon audit to understand its emissions more fully.

·        £10,000 for Elected Member ICT kit to enable paperless meetings.

 

A presentation including a detailed overview was then provided by the Senior Policy Advisor (see presentation attached).

 

It was noted that the web pages would be going live after this meeting and the Council would commit to publish its carbon footprint and emissions levels annually on its website.

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded.

 

Councillor Bowes commended the report but asked for assurance from Councillor Sherwood that the issue of general littering would be fully addressed through this Strategy and through the Council’s environmental protection aspirations. Breckland Council had a very good record of tackling fly-tipping but the level of general littering along the hedgerows, verges, publically accessible woodland walks, and amenity areas was unacceptable and was, in itself, a serious threat to wildlife, flora and the natural environment, as well as being an eyesore.  She asked if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27/21

28/21

Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel on Member Scheme Allowances 2020 - 2023 (Agenda item 14) pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director Strategy & Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mark Stinson, the Executive Manager for Governance presented the report.

 

In accordance with the Council’s legal obligations, Breckland Council had appointed an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) to consider and recommend the Members’ Scheme of Allowances. 

 

This Panel had been made up of Jonathan Rogers, Alistair Skipper, Les Spilman, Sam Watts and Andrew Egerton-Smith, the Chairman of the Panel who was in attendance to answer any questions. 

 

Whilst it was at the discretion of the Council to agree any changes to the scheme, the Council was required to have due regard to any recommendations that was made to it by the Independent Remuneration Panel.  

 

The proposals made by the Panel had been set out at Appendix A of the report and also included in the recommendations on page 222 of the agenda pack.  The Panel’s recommended increases had been applied to the current allowances and had been set out in Appendix B of the report. 

 

It was noted that there were a number of errors in respect of applying the formula as shown on Appendix B of the report and these were highlighted and corrected as follows:

 

·        Chairman of the Licensing Committee: £2,840 per annum

·        Chairman of the Committee of the Licensing Authority: £2,840 per annum Leader of the Opposition Group: £2,840 per annum

·       Vice-Chairman of the Council: £2,840 per annum

 

The report was originally scheduled to be heard at a Full Council meeting early in 2020 but the meetings at that time had been cancelled due to the pandemic and as such the proposals from the IRP and had been suggested by the IRP to be backdated to 2020 but to also cover a 3-year period ending on 31 March 2023.  

 

The Leader extended his thanks to the Independent Remuneration Panel that was made up of residents across the District and the County.  He supported recommendations 1, 3 and 4 but proposed an amendment to recommendation 2 as follows:

 

“That the District Councillors Basic/Special Responsibility Allowance is aligned to the locally agreed Breckland staff pay settlement on an annual basis for the period 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2023 and for the period 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021 be set at a zero increase”.

 

The Leader hoped that colleagues across the Council would agree with this amendment and again echoed his thanks to the Independent Panel for their hard work and their forbearance in the delay for this coming forward.

 

The Leader’s motion was seconded.

 

Councillor Clarke thanked the Leader for his remarks.  He was going to propose the same but speaking on behalf of the Labour Group, it supported the principle of any increase being linked to staff pay.  There was a detailed process for assessing whether an increase was warranted and had long argued this point.  He asked if a 2% increase in allowances would result in more people of working age becoming Councillors and felt that the times of the meetings should be varied to include some evening meetings as the current timings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28/21

29/21

Pay Policy Statement 2021/22 (Agenda item 15) pdf icon PDF 65 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Suggitt, the Executive Member for Governance presented the report.

 

The Pay Policy Statement was a policy that the Council was required to produce every year.  It was a statement of fact and it had to be approved by the 31 March and published on the website as soon as possible thereafter.

 

The Statement covered the remuneration of Chief Officers and lowest paid employees and the relationship between Chief Officers remuneration and that of other Officers. 

 

Included in the Statement was the latest gender pay gap figure at 16.8% which was an improvement from the previous year’s figure of 18.8% and more importantly brought the Council closer to the national average of 15.5%.  The Council continued to review its Policies particularly those covering of how the Council recruited to areas where the gap was more significant, and these were currently being looked at as part of Worksmart. Also, as part of the upcoming Customer Services review, a new proposed structure, if agreed, would also create more and higher paid opportunities which the Council believed would further narrow the gap. 

 

The recommendation on page 234 of the agenda pack was proposed and

Seconded, and following a show of hands, it was:

 

RESOLVED that the Pay Policy Statement 2021/22 be approved.   

30/21

Risk Management Policy (Agenda item 16) pdf icon PDF 64 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Suggitt, the Executive Member for Governance introduced the report but accordingly passed the Risk Management Policy to Ryan Pack, the Innovation & Change Business Partner to present.

 

The Council was in a position where its risk framework had to be reviewed. The framework before Members was the same as had been presented to a recent Governance & Audit Committee meeting subject to one amendment.

 

The reason for this amendment was due to the fact that the Council was currently in the process of recruiting a temporary Performance Framework Manager, but as yet, had been unsuccessful.  Part of the post’s remit would be to look at risk and therefore it was proposed that a short extension be made to the current policy followed by a further report to the Governance & Audit Committee in September and then to Full Council in December.

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded.

 

As the Chairman of the Governance & Audit Committee, Councillor Borrett stated that it did not seem sensible to agree the Policy and bind the hands of the new person responsible.  This was the reason for the amendment.

 

Following a show of hands, it was:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     the amendment of item 19 in the draft risk policy to allow for a further review in six months be agreed; and

 

2.     the draft Risk Management Policy be adopted.

31/21

Constitution - call-in of officer non-key decisions/definition of key decision (Agenda item 17) pdf icon PDF 140 KB

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

Minutes:

Councillor Suggitt was pleased to present the report that considered the variations to the Constitution. 

 

The report sought to amend the Constitution in respect of excluding the call-in of non- key officer decisions and to clarify the definition of a key decision.  This report had been considered at a recent meeting of the Governance & Audit Committee where Members of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission had also been invited and the recommendations had been supported.

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded.

 

Councillor Borrett, the Chairman of the Governance & Audit Committee believed that the recommendations did not reflect what Members of the Governance & Audit Committee had agreed.  The Cabinet Member was correct, it had been supported, but according to the first recommendation it still stated that Members should decide whether they wished to exclude call-in from non-key decisions where in fact, in his opinion, the decision had already been made. 

 

It was agreed that the words ‘whether they wish’ would be removed from the first recommendation.

 

Councillor Birt had attended the Governance & Audit Committee meeting and had raised concerns about the key decision threshold being raised to £250,000 and wanted it recorded in the Minutes that the quarter of a million figure was much too high and because of this he could not support it.

 

Following a show of hands, it was

 

RESOLVED that:

 

  1. Call-in for Non-Key Officer Decisions – that Members decide to exclude Call-in from Non-Key Decisions made by Officers under delegated authority, and whether to amend the Constitution in accordance with Appendix A of the report;

 

  1. Definition of Key Decision - that the existing definition in the glossary to the Constitution be amended to read as follows:

 

"Key Decision" means a decision which, in relation to an Executive Function, has a significant effect on communities in two or more wards of the Council and/or is likely to result in the Authority incurring expenditure, or making savings, in any single financial year above £250,000."

 

  1. the Key Decision figure be re-assessed at the end of a 12 month period to enable Members to consider whether the expenditure/savings figure is still appropriate.

 

 

 

32/21

Nominations for Committee and other Seats (if any) (Agenda item 18)

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

Minutes:

Councillor Claussen, the Deputy Leader advised Members of the following changes:

 

Committees:

 

·        Planning Committee:  Cllr Brame to be replaced by Cllr Kybird and

            Cllr Ian Martin be appointed as a substitute.

 

·        Licensing Committee: Cllr Brame to be replaced by Cllr Colman.

 

·        Committee of the Licensing Authority:  Cllr Brame to be replaced by Cllr Colman.

 

·        Breckland Area Museums Joint Committee:  Cllr Brame to be replaced by Cllr Bushell.

 

Outside Bodies:

 

·        Charles Burrell Museum Trust:  Cllr Brame to be replaced by Cllr James.

 

·        Breckland Youth Advisory Board: Cllr Ian Sherwood to be replaced by Cllr Peter Wilkinson and Cllr Dale to remain as the second representative.

 

As part of the Youth Advisory Board the Members for the Youth Action Groups will be:

    

·        Attleborough - Cllr Dale

·        Dereham - Cllr Bushell

·        Swaffham - Cllr Colman

·        Thetford - Cllr James

·        Watton - Cllr Kiddell

 

No further nominations were put forward.

 

Under this item Councillor Atterwill said that he had thoroughly enjoyed Councillor Brame’s Chairmanship at this meeting, it had been very professional, and he hoped that everyone else in the meeting agreed.

 

The Chairman thanked Members for their kind words it had been different, but it had been a pleasure and an honour.

33/21

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

Minutes:

None.

34/21

Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent (if any) (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:

None.

35/21

Exclusion of Press and 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 item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 & 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act.”

 

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

 

Minutes:

Following a show of hands and subject to one vote against the resolution, 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 item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 & 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act.”

 

The Chairman announced that the public part of this Full Council meeting was now closed.

 

 

 

36/21

Housing Service Review (Agenda item 22)

Report of Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member Health & Housing and Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director Strategy & Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Webb, the Executive Member for Health & Housing presented the report.

 

Many Members would be familiar with this report already as it had been considered at the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and Cabinet where a number of questions had been raised and responded to accordingly.

 

The recommendations were very important as a Team structure with less reliance on temporary roles would provide greater stability and framework for delivering Breckland an excellent future housing service.

 

Whilst the future could not be predicted, it was believed that this new structure would provide greater resilience and be better prepared for the challenges ahead.

 

Accompanying the new structure was the continued development of the culture within this service and at the heart of this structure would be a skilled Team providing early intervention and prevention to minimise the risk of homelessness and inappropriate housing.  Most importantly, customers would be treated as people not just as numbers.

 

Councillor Webb thanked the Officers, Steve James, the Communities & Environmental Services Manager and Gill Duffy, the Housing Manager, for all their hard work in producing this report alongside Members who had offered their comments.

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded.

 

Councillor Atterwill thanked Councillor Webb and her Team as he had been immensely impressed with the work of the Executive Member within the Housing Portfolio and was pleased that these changes would provide great improvements going forward.

 

Councillor Birt fully supported the recommendations but did not understand why this report could not have been taken in public session.  

 

Following a show of hands, it was:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

a)     the proposed structure of the Housing Service be approved;

 

b)     the increase in staffing costs for 2 years to enable capacity for change be approved; and

 

c)     the change from temporary roles to permanent roles for the officer roles funded through annual government grant be approved.