Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: The Breckland Conference Centre, Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE

Contact: Democratic Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Media

Items
No. Item

Chairman's Opening Remarks

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.

94/21

Apologies (Agenda item 1)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Brindle, Carter, Clarke, Eagle, Gilbert, Morton, Nairn, Nunn and Oliver.

 

95/21

Minutes (Agenda item 2) pdf icon PDF 343 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2021.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2021 were agreed as a correct record.

96/21

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.

97/21

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4) pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that Mrs June Sangster, had served Ashill Parish Council as the clerk for 40 years.  Mrs Sangster had carried out a tremendous amount of work for her community and it gave him great pleasure to recognise her achievement at this Full Council meeting.

 

He asked members that if they had anyone in their Wards that they felt deserved some form of official recognition to let him know and he would mention them at Full Council meetings in future.   

 

Finally, all members would have received an invitation to the joint Chairs’ reception with the previous Chair of the Council, Councillor Lynda Turner.

 

He praised all members for their help and assistance within their communities over the last 18 months as all deserved some recognition and he and Councillor Turner looked forward to seeing members accompanied by their partners at this forthcoming social event. 

 

 

98/21

Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

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

 

Minutes:

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

 

He was delighted that this meeting was being held in the council chamber, for the first time in a very long while.  Although most Members had met in person in July, to be back in a familiar setting, was truly a major milestone in this Council returning to a ‘new normal’ - whilst taking steps to mitigate against covid – such as receiving vaccinations, adhering to social distancing and using hand sanitiser – it had not stopped the democratic process.

 

He was proud of the support that this Council had provided – and continued to provide – to local businesses and residents, keeping local lives and livelihoods at the forefront of activity throughout the pandemic, and as everyone began to emerge from the pandemic, this Council already had a number of initiatives underway to ensure Breckland had a bright future.

 

For example, as part of the Council’s Future Breckland programme, a draft plan for Dereham had recently been released for feedback. This could mean some bold changes being made to the town, including rerouting traffic, creating new housing and business opportunities, and brightening up the high street.

 

Through the same initiative, residents in Watton and Swaffham were being invited to attend imminent engagement events to discuss their towns, there were so many things that were fantastic about Breckland’s market towns whilst also recognising that things could be made even better going forward.

 

Finally, Attleborough and Thetford residents would get their turn to have their say on their town in the New Year.

 

Further works were underway to improve the district to make it more attractive for residents and visitors.

 

Just recently, in Thetford, the former riverboat restaurant which had sat for years at the town’s riverside had been removed by this Council, in response to residents and businesses in the area identifying it as an eyesore which was bringing the town down.

 

This was an opportunity to address, and Breckland Council took action. It was a great example of this Council listening to local voices and investing in its towns, making the riverside more attractive and constantly pushing the towns forward. It was fantastic news residents and coincided with the entertainment complex now being fully let and further improvements being made to the surrounding area.

 

Meanwhile, in Dereham, the Council was supporting the delivery of the Ellenor Fenn community garden, which was being delivered in partnership with the About Dereham Group, Dencora and the local Baptist Church, with funding from Central Government and this Council’s Market Town Initiative.

 

The new public space off Dereham’s high street had brought together a number of local groups and businesses to turn a disused wasteland into a beautiful garden meeting space for the community, and he was thoroughly looking forward to it being officially opened on Saturday, 11th September.

Finally, in Swaffham, work would shortly get underway as part of Heritage Action Zone programme, which would see a £700,000 programme focusing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98/21

99/21

Questions on Notice under Standing Order No 6 (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 406 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Tim Birt had submitted a question on notice which had been sent to Members in the form of a supplementary agenda.  The response had been included.

 

The Chairman asked Councillor Birt if had a supplementary question he would like to ask that related to his original question.

 

With regards to the boat disposal, the floating restaurant in Thetford, Councillor Birt declared that he had been a registered bidder at this particular auction but had bid on other lots and not on the boat.

 

The written response that he had received had made a great deal of effort, in his opinion, to attempt to justify why a twitter account in the name of the Leader was not his personal account.  He felt that twitter was not an official way to disclose expenditure when the monies involved came collectively from the residents of the district.  There should have been an Officer report or a member briefing on this matter particularly as this was going to be in the public arena. The Leader had stated in his response that it was not in the Council’s best interests for the floating restaurant to be reopened and yet had paid well over the guide price.

 

The Chairman interrupted Councillor Birt at this point but understood what he was trying to get across, but it was supposed to be a question not a statement and reminded Councillor Birt that he was allowed one supplementary question only.  

 

Councillor Birt then asked the Leader how this complied with the asset disposal regulations set out within the Council’s Constitution.

 

The Leader felt that he had already responded satisfactorily but he would follow up this supplementary question in writing.  He pointed out that Thetford Members had been very supportive with the Councils direct intervention for the removal of the boat and Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group and a Thetford Member had been very supportive of the action taken. In respect of the financial cost, it had been advertised on the auction site and the delegation within the Constitution allowed that type of activity to happen within budget.  This asset had not been purchased for the Council to use as it was for regeneration purposes only and therefore fell out of the parameters of disposal.  The price had been higher than expected but Breckland Council was committed across all five of its market towns to have direct intervention when it was financially practical to do so and within budget and within its Constitution.  If outside the framework, it would have to go through the correct procedures to ensure that a budget was in place and with Council or Cabinet approval if required.

 

Councillor Birt raised a point of order under the said part of the Constitution and asked the Monitoring Officer to investigate.

 

Rob Walker, the Executive Director of Place & Delivery and the Council’s Monitoring Officer asked Councillor Birt to explain the section in the Constitution that he was referring to.   

 

The Chairman reminded Members of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 99/21

100/21

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

Minutes:

The Chairman reminded Members that this part of the meeting was for questions only and not statements and had a time constraint of 30 minutes.  All questions should be directed to the relevant Portfolio Holder or to the Leader.

 

Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group, directed his question to the Leader, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen. 

 

He mentioned a report that had recently been released by the Salvation Army, ‘Understanding People Understanding Places’ that looked in detail at the Government’s ‘Levelling Up Agenda’ and the release of new funding. 

 

This report claimed that numerous areas would be left behind by the Government as the formula did not adequately look at entrenched deprivation and morality.  One of the areas that it listed of being unfairly penalised was the Breckland district as the formula relied heavily on employment figures and whilst Breckland had always had good levels of employment it struggled with the numbers of zero hours contracts, seasonal employment, and low wages. 

 

He asked the Leader if he would commit to writing to the Government to urge them to review the formula used for the said funding, citing the Salvation Army report that detailed how Breckland residents would be unfairly missing out.

 

The Leader said that he had not seen the Salvation Army report but had made a note of it and would read it cover to cover; however, he assured Members that he had, via the District Councillors Network (DCN), lobbied the Secretary of State in relation to the formula, and in particular with the emerging ‘Levelling Up White Paper’ in October/November of this year to ensure that the formula was changed.  He would also write again individually as a Council rather than via the DCN to ensure that the Secretary of State had taken account of the Salvation Army report. 

 

Councillor Atterwill, the Leader of the Independent Group, asked the Leader if he would support the creation of a Task & Finish Group to closely monitor the Serco contract and make suggestions for any improvements.

 

The Leader advised that he would support any decision made by any Committee Chairmen but there was already a clear framework in place in respect of the contract.  There was an Oversight Board not just for Breckland but across the three Councils that had a clear ability to feed into the Contract Monitoring Board but if the Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission decided that a Task & Finish Group was required on any matter as Leader of the Council, he would support that decision.   

 

Councillor Birt asked a question on behalf of Saham Toney Parish Council.  The Leader had attended the Parish meeting on 2 August 2021 where there was some discussion about the Saham Toney Neighbourhood Plan and the problems the parish was experiencing and, the Leader at the time, had said he would investigate these issues.  A letter had been sent from the Parish Council to the Leader that included some of the issues outstanding including an instruction that Breckland Council would provide  ...  view the full minutes text for item 100/21

101/21

Minutes (for information only) (Agenda item 8)

To note the following Committee meeting Minutes, as follows:

101/21a

Cabinet: 26 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Members are asked to note that the recommendation under Minute No. 74/21(Shared Procurement Service) will be discussed under Agenda item 16 below.

Minutes:

It was noted that the recommendation under Minute No. 74/21 (Shared Procurement Service) would be discussed under Agenda item 16.

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 26 July 2021 be noted.

 

101/21b

Overview & Scrutiny Commission: 22 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 249 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 22 July 2021 be noted

101/21c

Governance & Audit Committee: 24 June 2021 pdf icon PDF 198 KB

Members are asked to note that the recommendations from this meeting were approved at the previous Full Council meeting held on 8 July 2021.

Minutes:

Councillor Birt stated that he had attended and contributed to all Governance & Audit Committee meetings as a non-member and there had been a possibility that this particular meeting could not take place due to it being inquorate until the very last moment.  In order to prevent this happening again, he asked if it would be possible for him to be appointed as a substitute Member for Councillor Grey, even though Councillor Grey was in a different political party.  

 

The Chairman thanked Councillor Birt for his offer, but this was a matter that needed to be considered under agenda item 11, nominations for committees and other seats.

 

RESOLVED that the confirmed Minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee meeting held on 24 June 2021 be noted.

101/21d

Licensing Committee: 21 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 21 July 2021 be noted.

101/21e

Committee of the Licensing Authority: 21 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Committee of the Licensing Authority meeting held on 21 July 2021 be noted.

101/21f

Planning Committee: 5 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 5 July 2021 be noted.

101/21g

Planning Committee: 2 August 2021 pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 2 August 2021 be noted.

102/21

Permanency of Senior Management Structure (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Report of Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, the Leader of the Council presented the report.

 

Members were asked to cast their minds back to the time when he had written to all Members about the departure of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and since then to appoint an interim Head of Paid Service for the authority to see the organisation through the parting of the ways with South Holland District Council after a very successful 12 years.

 

Members were asked to note other areas within the report, such as the wider strategic partnership with other councils across Norfolk.

 

Approval was being sought to undertake 5 recommendations, and these were proposed and seconded accordingly.

 

Councillor Birt was content with the first recommendation; however, the other aspects of this report did not seem to offer a clear justification as to the need of a CEO and the report itself had not explored any possible alternatives.  He had noticed that there was also a very precise figure of £68,000 per annum budget increase but again he felt there was no justification for that figure.  He felt that some further work should be carried out on these matters before considering the recommendations.

 

Councillor Jermy said he was always nervous about interim arrangements and more nervous when such arrangements dragged on for a long period of time and therefore was pleased with the recommendations. He asked the Leader for clarification on whether it would be a Full Council decision on the appointment of a new CEO and if the role of the CEO would be the same as the Head of Paid Service and would these two roles be combined.  He also drew attention to the draft structure as he had noticed that there were still quite manager level vacancies within the organisation and was concerned about the number of vacancies and asked if these would be progressed in tandem with the recruitment of the CEO.

 

In response to Councillor Birt’s question, the Leader advised that the Scheme of Delegation was capped at £68,000 and anything beyond that for this purpose would need to come back to Full Council for ratification.

 

The Leader agreed with Councillor Jermy that interim was not fit for purpose. The CEO post would go through internal recruitment first of all and the Constitution did not require this matter to come back to Full Council for clarification; however, he would ensure that this would happen on this particular appointment.  This would be an Appointment & Disciplinary Panel’s recommendation to Full Council and of course debated as to whether the recommendation should be agreed.   

 

The CEO and the Head of Paid Service position would be merged once a CEO had been appointed. In relation to gaps in the organisation structure most of these positions had now been filled and it was the responsibility of the Assistant Directors and the Head of HR to move those forward as quickly as possible. With regard to the wider structure if a Director or an Assistant Director applied for the post  ...  view the full minutes text for item 102/21

103/21

Shared Staffing Arrangements - Section 113 agreement (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Report of Councillor Ian Sherwood, Executive Member for People, Communications and Governance.

Minutes:

Councillor Ian Sherwood, Executive Member for People, Communications and Governance presented the report.

 

The Shared Management Agreement entered into by Breckland District Council and South Holland District Council was now largely obsolete except that it allowed the Councils to continue to share officers when and where necessary.  Currently the Legal and Contracts Officers all remained shared and were likely to remain as such until both authorities have a better understanding on how they wished to provide those services in future.  

 

One Business Support Officer from the Environmental Protection Team also remained shared. 

 

The Agreement for these Officers to remain shared had thus far been agreed by way of a side matter to the original Agreement.  The arrangements required to be formalised by a new Agreement so that the former Agreement could eventually fall away. 

 

This report sought formal approval for the new Agreement and paragraph 2.1 of the report detailed the proposed basic principles of the new arrangement that would allow both authorities some flexibility. 

 

It was proposed that the Monitoring Officer be authorised to approve the detail and the terms.     A similar report would be presented to South Holland District Council on the 22 September 2021. 

 

The recommendations were proposed and seconded.

 

Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group referred to the financial section of the report that highlighted the employment costs and presumed there would not be any additional costs arising form this course of action in respect of additional travel costs.

 

Rob Walker, the Monitoring Officer advised that the funding arrangements would mirror those previously in existence under the shared arrangements with South Holland DC and from a budget sense it would be a neutral position.

 

Councillor Birt did not have any particular problems with the shared Agreement; however, one of the reasons cited for separating from South Holland DC was the carbon impact and being so distant.  This had been mentioned in section 6 of the report, but he could not find any details on this matter and asked for clarity on what the carbon footprint environmental impact might be.  

 

Members were informed that there would be an expectation that those Officers would be working in a virtual environment reducing the need for travel between the two sites.   

 

The recommendations were taken enbloc, and it was

 

RESOLVED that:  

 

1)       the Council agrees to enter into a Section 113 Agreement with South Holland District Council in relation to the sharing of the Legal Services Team Officers, the Procurement and Contracts Team Officers and the Environmental Protection Business Support Officer; and

 

2)      delegated authority be given to the Monitoring officer to approve the final terms of the Agreement.

104/21

Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 11)

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

Minutes:

Councillor Birt mentioned his offer in respect of being appointed as substitute on the Governance & Audit Committee.

 

Rob Walker, the Monitoring Officer explained that given the Committee was politically balanced containing 5 Conservative seats and 1 Labour seat it was not possible to achieve the outcome that Councillor Birt had requested but would be considered accordingly.

105/21

Amendments to the Constitution (if any) (Agenda item 12)

Minutes:

None.

106/21

Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent (Agenda item 13)

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.

107/21

Exclusion of Press & Public (Agenda item 14)

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, 3 and 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.

 

PART B – ITEM FROM WHICH THE PRESS AND THE PUBLIC ARE EXCLUDED 

 

 

Minutes:

The Chairman read aloud the relevant paragraphs for each of the private & confidential reports.

 

Councillor Birt proposed not to go below the line in respect of various reasons pertaining to Schedule 12 A of the Local Government Act 1972.  The proposal was not carried.

 

The recommendation was proposed and seconded, and subject to one vote against, 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, 3 and 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

 

Prior to moving into private session, the Chairman thanked everyone who had been watching the meeting on Youtube.

108/21

Overview & Scrutiny Commission Private Minutes: 15 July 2021 (Agenda item 15)

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the private & confidential Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 22 July 2021 be noted.

109/21

Shared Procurement Service (Agenda item 16)

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Planning, Leisure and Contracts.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were informed that the first two recommendations had already been approved by Cabinet at its meeting on 26 July 2021.  There was just one recommendation for Members to consider that could be found on page 95 of the agenda pack.

 

Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Planning, Leisure & Contracts presented the report.

 

The recommendation was proposed and seconded, and subject to one vote against, it was:

 

RESOLVEDthat the recommendation be approved.

 

110/21

Service Review - Property (Agenda item 17)

Report of Councillor Paul Hewett, Executive Member for Property & Projects.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Paul Hewett, Executive Member for Property & Projects presented the report and proposed the recommendation at Option 1 of the report that related to the restructuring of the Property Service Team.

 

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

 

RESOLVEDthat the recommendation as listed in the report on page 128 of the agenda pack be approved.

 

111/21

Economy & Growth Service Review (Agenda item 18)

Report of Councillor Paul Claussen, Deputy Leader & Executive Member for Economic Development & Growth.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Economic Development & Growth presented the report.

 

The recommendation was proposed and seconded, and it was:

 

RESOLVEDthat the recommendation as listed in the report on page 136 of the agenda pack be approved.