Agenda and minutes

Venue: Virtual meeting via Zoom

Contact: Democratic Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Media

Items
No. Item

37/21

Apologies (Agenda item 1)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Bowes, Kiddell and Sherwood.

38/21

Minutes (Agenda item 2) pdf icon PDF 301 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 25 February 2021.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 25 February 2021 were confirmed as a correct record.

39/21

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.

40/21

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4) pdf icon PDF 30 KB

Minutes:

On behalf of Lady Pippa Dannatt, the Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk, the Chairman was delighted to announce that Mr Michael Gurney would soon be appointed as the new High Sheriff of Norfolk taking over from Lady Georgina Roberts.

 

Mr Gurney had also recently been made a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) as part of Lady Dannatt’s Team.

 

The Chairman had attended a number of virtual events since the previous meeting that had been detailed in the attached engagements list including making a short film on youtube on the 23 March 2021, which had been marked as the National Day of Reflection to remember those whose lives had been lost from the pandemic in the past year.

41/21

Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

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

 

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen made the following announcements.

 

Lockdown Roadmap

 

On Monday, 12 April 2021, the Country would begin to move into step 2 of the national roadmap out of lockdown.  He was pleased to confirm that Breckland was already helping local businesses across the District in preparation to open safely. 

 

From the 12 April, non-essential retail would be permitted to open for business which would hopefully bring back much activity to the High Streets. 

 

The Council had launched a £2m support package to help businesses to begin trading again and provide residents with the confidence they needed to shop locally and support businesses whilst remaining safe.

 

This package was being branded as ‘Spring Back’ and this programme of support had already received tremendous uptake from several businesses across the whole of the District including rural areas.  This funding of up to £5k would help with new equipment to trade in a Covid compliant way including extra protective equipment such as screens marquees, benches etc to allow individuals to be safe and ensure social distancing could take place.  This money was already available and beyond that Breckland was looking to improve shop fronts making the towns attractive destinations for shoppers to visit not just in Breckland but the wider county. 

 

Training and support were also being offered to help local businesses trade on-line optimising on the new ‘click and collect’ digital market that had proved such a phenomenon over the last 12 months.   This support was not just available to existing businesses but for start-up businesses too and this funding would be paid directly to businesses to get their initial platform launched, their initial rent paid, or their initial capital outlay paid for premises. Any businesses across the District or any individual who had a scheme they were looking to launch should contact Breckland Council for further information.  

 

Over the coming days and weeks residents would see sight of a number of shops displaying Covid safe schemes in the form of a window sticker to show that they were Covid safe. The Covid Support Officers were continuing to patrol the towns to carry out assessments and to distribute these accreditation stickers for such premises. Whilst the re-opening of High Streets was welcomed and the easing of restrictions were gradually eased, it remained essential that everyone continued to follow the latest guidelines to keep everyone safe. 

 

The Covid Support Teams were out every day in the Breckland communities along side the Public Protection and Licensing Officers, as well as Trading Standards, health & safety teams and of course the Police to ensure that all premises were ready to open, answering questions and helping them go through the legislation ensuring that they were ready to open their doors.  

 

On the subject of keeping safe, the asymptomatic testing continued throughout the District and many residents and Members of the Council would have seen the pop-up testing sites in the market towns.  Anyone who had any concerns were urged to log  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41/21

42/21

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

Minutes:

None received.

43/21

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

Minutes:

Councillor Jermy directed his question about virtual meetings to the Leader.  He was aware that such meetings would be coming to an end after 6 May 2021 despite many Councillors and staff not being fully vaccinated and without clear opportunities to allow larger meetings to go ahead in a socially distanced way.  He asked the Leader if he could confirm what representations he had made to the Government on this matter.  He also asked the Leader to confirm that once ‘in person’ meetings did return what Breckland would be doing to ensure that the new opportunities that had been afforded to residents to engage with and scrutinise the Council through virtual meetings would be maintained.

 

The Leader advised that he had made representations for the eastern region as a Member of the District Councillors Network for the East of England and the Local Government Information Unit.  At both these forums he had stressed the importance of hybrid meetings moving forward beyond step 4 of the roadmap; however, when the Government legislation ended in May all councils would have to react to that decision accordingly. 

 

A decision had already been made to pull forward the AGM from 20 May to 29 April so that everyone could remain Covid complaint and Covid safe and the Committee Chairmen had already made their own decisions to either pull forward their meetings or postpone them until after 21 June. All Members had a duty as public leaders and as community champions that when all businesses opened again the Council should follow suit when safe and practical to do so whilst bearing in mind that beyond 17 May the numbers of how many people could meet inside could increase.

 

In relation to public participation, part of the works that was still on-going under Cllr Paul Hewett’s Portfolio, the Conference Suite at Breckland Council now had livestreaming facilities in place so the public would not necessarily have to attend in person.  Members would soon be invited in small groups to the Conference Suite to have a discussion about how the new technology was going to work.

 

Councillor Birt said that the questions that he had asked at the previous Council meeting had not, as yet, been responded to and were as follows:

 

·        How much money had been collected in the New Homes Bonus for his local area of Carbrooke, Saham Toney and Watton?

·        Information required in respect of the Operational Recovery document and the Worksmart 2020 Programme.

 

Referring to the latter question, Councillor Birt said that he had been having difficulties getting hold of the aforementioned documents and had contacted the Legal Team accordingly.  The legislation permitted him to view these documents but again he had not received any response and felt that he was being unlawfully denied access to such information. 

 

The Leader advised that he was not aware of any Officer preventing this legal ability but felt that if every Member asked for the level of detail that Councillor Birt demanded on a continuous  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43/21

44/21

Minutes (for information only) (Agenda item 8)

To note the following Committee Minute documents for the month of

44/21a

Cabinet Minutes pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To note the unconfirmed Minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2021.

Minutes:

The unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 22 March 2021 were noted.

44/21b

Overview & Scrutiny Commission pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To note the unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 4 March 2021.

Minutes:

The unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 4 March 2021 were noted.

44/21c

Governance & Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 164 KB

To note the unconfirmed Minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee held on 11 February 2021.

 

Members are asked to note that the following recommendations were approved at the previous Full Council meeting held on 25 February 2021:

 

·        Risk Management Policy (Minute No. 11/21)

 

·        Constitution – Call-in of Officer Non-Key Decisions/Definition of Key Decision (Minute No. 13/21)

Minutes:

The unconfirmed Minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee meeting held on 11 February 2021 were noted.

44/21d

Planning Committee pdf icon PDF 74 KB

1.     To note the confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 15 February 2021.

 

2.     To note the unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 15 March 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

·        The confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 15 February 2021 were noted.

 

·        The unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 15 March 2021 were noted.

45/21

Constitutional amendments following the Council's decision to activate clause 8 of the Memorandum of Agreement between Breckland District Council and South Holland District Council and the associated designation of Statutory Officers; and the appointment of Proper Officers, and Virtual Meetings (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 186 KB

Report of Councillor Suggitt, Executive Member for Governance.

 

Members are asked to note that the ADDENDUM – DESIGNATION OF STATUTORY OFFICERS attached as a supplement to this report at page 97 of the agenda pack updates recommendation 3 of the report.

 

Paragraph 3.3 of the report at agenda item 9 refers to this addendum.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Suggitt, the Executive Member for Governance presented the report that covered the urgent matters that needed to be addressed following the termination of the Memorandum of Agreement between Breckland and South Holland District Councils.

 

The report dealt with the designation of the Head of Paid Service, the Monitoring Officer and the S151 Officer which were statutory posts and was a legislative requirement.

 

The names of the Officers designated to these posts had been highlighted on page 97 of the agenda pack.  The Proper Officer appointment had also been updated as certain post titles had been amended in the interim structure.

 

The reference to the joint arrangements would also be removed and a new Committee titled the “Shared Memorandum of Agreement Committee” had been appointed to deal solely with any disputes that could arise following the termination of the Agreement.

 

The report also dealt with the continued use of South Holland’s Independent person in specific circumstances.

 

A number of clerical errors had already been brought to the report author’s attention on pages 83, 75 and 95 of the agenda pack and these would be corrected accordingly.

 

It had also been prudent to consider virtual meetings as the Constitution would need to revert back to its previous version once the virtual meeting regulations came to an end.   

 

Any further amendments would be dealt with at a later date.

 

The Executive Member for Governance thanked the Legal Team for all their hard work in getting the report prepared for this Full Council meeting.  In normal circumstances this would have been a challenge, but she felt that it had been no mean feat to pull this together whilst working through the separation of the Councils itself.

 

The proposal to take the recommendations enbloc was seconded.

 

Before the vote was taken, Members were invited to ask questions.

 

Councillor Birt commented on the appointments being considered.  He felt that the S151 Officer had proved her worth and was happy for the said Officer to continue in this role, but the remainder of the job placements seemed to him a little odd and asked in the longer term if these positions would be advertised or reviewed going forward.

 

In response, the Leader advised that colleagues would be aware that when the Council appointed the Head of Paid Service it had been for a short-term fixed period and the individuals concerned already existed as Chief Officers.  The legislation as a Council required the designation of those relevant Officers to these posts and had been reflected in the recommendation. 

 

There was no recruitment process or appointment to these posts, and it was not necessary to go through the normal committee process. It was this Council’s duty to appoint such designations and those Chief Officers identified were the most suitable and as such had been brought forward to this Full Council meeting.

 

The Leader was sorry that Councillor Birt had not praised the other members of staff as he felt that all staff throughout the last 12 months  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45/21

46/21

Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 10)

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

Minutes:

Councillor Claussen the Deputy Leader of the Council announced that he had been invited to join the East of England Local Government Association’s Infrastructure and Growth Panel, a new Outside Body appointment.

 

No further changes were made.

47/21

Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent (Agenda item 11)

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.

48/21

Exclusion of Press & Public (Agenda item 12)

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 paragraph 2 of Schedule 12A to the Act.”

 

Minutes:

Following a show of hands and subject to two votes against the resolution, it was:

 

RESOLVEDthat 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 involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 2 of Schedule 12A to the Act.”

 

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

49/21

ARP Succession Planning (Agenda item 13)

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Phil Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth and Chairman of the Anglia Revenues & Benefits Partnership Joint Committee presented the report.

 

Breckland Council had established the Anglia Revenues Partnership (ARP) with partner authorities and had been at the forefront of delivering a revenues and benefits service that had been a pathfinder in the field. As an organisation it had developed systems and working practices that had set new standards and brought significant savings and income to the Council.

 

As with all innovative business enterprises, ARP continued to look at ways of improving its service to its clients and thus to the residents of the Districts it served.

 

Opportunities presented themselves occasionally whereby organisations were able to rethink their business models and structures, and this was the case at ARP, hence the report that Members were being asked to consider.

 

The recommendation was proposed and seconded and following a vote, it was:

 

RESOLVED that the recommendation as highlighted on page 98 of the agenda pack be approved.