Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services  Tel: 01362 656870


No. Item


Apologies (Agenda item 1)

To receive apologies for absence. 


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bushell, Clarke, Kiddell, Ian Martin and Oliver.


Minutes (Agenda item 2) pdf icon PDF 404 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 20 January 2022.

Additional documents:


The Minutes of the meeting held on 20 January 2022 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to Councillor Wickerson being added to the list of apologies.


Councillors Grey and Nairn abstained from voting on these Minutes as they were not in attendance at that meeting and had sent their apologies.


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.



None declared.


Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4) pdf icon PDF 52 KB


Before the Chairman made his announcements, Maxine O’Mahony, the Chief Executive read aloud a letter of thanks from a former Breckland Councillor, Brenda Canham who had asked for her letter to be mentioned at a Full Council meeting.


The Chairman, Councillor Roy Brame had helped her husband attend a hospital appointment in January and had taken him to Addenbrooks in Cambridge picking him up at 5.30am for a 6:45am appointment after failing to secure a lift from anyone else with it being so early in the morning.  Mrs Canham wanted to thank the Chairman who had gone above and beyond his duty.


The Chairman was flattered by the aforementioned comments but felt that this had brought up a serious issue that may have not been realised.  The hospitals were now allowing much earlier or later appointments to catch up following the pandemic and although there were many voluntary services who transported patients to and from hospitals many of them did not work during those times due to other commitments. Taxi firms were also restricted during these times as many had school contracts to deal with.   He asked if it would be possible to set up a Task & Finish Group to have a look at what could be done to help and would leave this in the capable hands of the Leader, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen to look into further.


On a completely separate matter, copies of the Local Plan, located in the foyer, were available for all Members to take home if they so wished (these had been printed in preparation for a Town & Parish Council Forum that was due to take place in 2020 following the adoption of the Local Plan in November 2019 but had obviously been postponed due to the pandemic).


The Chairman also drew attention to two charity announcements. The first was about a Thank & Hope Service that had been arranged by the High Sheriff of Norfolk that was taking place at the Minster in Kings Lynn.  The service would be held towards the end of March to recognise and thank those people who had gone above and beyond their normal day to day lives throughout the pandemic.  The High Sheriff was asking for names who would then be invited to attend this service accordingly.  Members were then asked that if they knew of anyone in their communities to put their names forward and email Kathryn Boddy, the Chairman’s secretary at


The second announcement related to a charity golf and dinner event for the Chains of Office being held on 31 March 2022. Teams were being organised to play golf during the day followed by a dinner which was open to all Members and Officers across the Districts who had some experience playing golf.  The event was being held at Swaffham Golf Club that would be celebrating its centenary and would be in aid of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity for bereaved children and young people who had experienced the death of a parent who  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30/22


Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

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



The Leader started his announcements by mentioning the news across the world in relation to Ukraine and on behalf of the Council conveyed his thoughts and prayers to all citizens across Ukraine and western Europe during these immensely challenging and difficult times.  Breckland Council had a long history along with the County of Norfolk in supporting those who found themselves in peril and had very recently written to the Chairman and the Leader of Norfolk County Council offering Breckland’s support for any repatriation that was required as well as any support to any individuals fleeing Ukraine as it had done with Afghanistan, Syria and Hong Kong.  A response was awaited.


Levelling Up

The Government had set out its vision for ‘levelling up’ the UK over the next decade. The white paper sets out the Government’s plan to spread opportunity and prosperity to all parts of the UK, and Norfolk had been selected as one of a handful of pathfinder areas.


Devolution had the potential to provide local areas with the powers they needed to further enhance services, drive efficiencies, and tackle economic and social inequalities.


This was an exciting prospect, but with many details of the White Paper still to be clarified it could not be said for certain whether devolution was right for Breckland and for Norfolk.


This Council already had a long history of successful and effective partnerships with organisations both within Norfolk and beyond, and further discussions would be had in respect of this ‘Levelling Up’ opportunity with colleagues outside Breckland and together would review if devolution was right for Breckland and for Norfolk’s residents.


As had been seen throughout the pandemic, district councils as a whole had a proven track record of delivery and were excellently placed to understand and swiftly respond to the changing needs of their town and rural communities.


It was therefore essential that all had a genuine say in shaping the future of local services, alongside partners, this opportunity would be welcomed to have an open dialogue with those partners and central government.


Snetterton Power upgrade

Breckland Council was already ‘levelling up’ the district with projects to ensure Breckland grew and thrived.


This included cutting the turf at Snetterton Heath, where work to build a new primary electricity substation was now underway. This work to ‘switch on Snetterton’ would increase the power supply available, making it easier for businesses to set up and grow, and creating new job opportunities.


Breckland Council had joined up with UK Power Networks to deliver the project, having secured funding from the New Anglia LEP and the local business rates pool, totalling around £3.5m.


This project was a great example of this Council working in partnership with other organisations to deliver great outcomes for the district, its residents and its businesses.


Future Breckland

Additionally, the Future Breckland project continued, with residents in Attleborough and Thetford being invited to have their say on what was great about their towns as well as what was to be prioritised to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31/22


Questions on Notice under Standing Order No 6 (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 331 KB


The Questions on Notice including the responses had been published as a supplementary agenda prior to the meeting.


The Chairman advised that since the recent changes that had been made to the Constitution at the previous Full Council meeting in January, any supplementary questions would now be taken under Agenda item 7.


Councillor Birt raised a point of order under Standing Order no. 6.5 of the Constitution and quoted the relevant section which referred to Standing Order No. 7.  He noted that Standing Order No. 7 did not mention supplementary questions, and, furthermore, Standing Order 7.1 stated that the time limit only applied to Standing Order No. 7, Questions without Notice, and not Standing Order No. 6, Questions on Notice and was minded that the attempt to curtail Scrutiny with a time limit had resulted in an appallingly written Constitution.  Article 15 Section .2.1 stated that he could not challenge any decisions that were made at this meeting but as members would be aware he would do as necessary. 


The Chairman stated that he had read the new Standing Orders and that had not been the conclusion that he had come to and was trying to abide to the new Standing Orders and asked Sarah Wolstenholme-Smy, the Councils Legal Services Manager to clarify this matter.


Members were informed that Standing Order No. 6.5 dealt with supplementary questions and that such questions were specifically referred to Standing Order No. 7.  Standing Order 6.5.1 related to other Committees and Sub-Committees and not Full Council meetings and therefore any supplementary questions fell under Standing Order No. 7 and the various questions that could be asked under this Standing Order and was therefore part of that 30-minute time limit.


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


Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group thanked the Leader for his comments in relation to Ukraine and supported his letter to the Leader of Norfolk County Council and asked the Leader to circulate that to Members so that they were all aware and could publicly support his comments.


He then drew attention to a more local issue in respect of Barnham Broom and referred to a previous statement made about this asset being a real investment for the Council and that the income was supporting Council services.  He asked Councillor Hewett, the Executive Member for Property& Projects if he still regarded Barnham Broom as a real investment. 


In response, the Executive Member for Property & Projects explained that any reference to specific matters that would and had been scrutinised by the Overview & Scrutiny Commission should remain confidential.  He would be happy to talk to Councillor Jermy about his observations in respect of Barnham Broom in confidence after this meeting as it was inappropriate for such matters about any of the Council’s investments to be discussed in a public forum in terms of what the Council’s future ambitions were for such investments moving forward.


Councillor Atterwill, the Leader of the Independent Group, asked the Executive Member for Property & Projects if he would commit to an undertaking to provide all Members with an update briefing on the current situation on Barnham Broom before or after the AGM in May 2022 whilst appreciating the confidentiality of such matters.  He pointed out that the Executive Member for Property & Projects had been kind enough to discuss Barnham Broom with him in the past but felt it was now at the stage, following a great deal of speculation in the press, that all Members would appreciate an update to make them aware of the current situation.


The Executive Member for Property & Projects said he would be happy to do this.


Councillor Birt, the Leader of the Green Party referred to one of his questions under Agenda item 6 in respect of the response that had been provided relating to commercial property debt and the money owed to the Council.  He felt that there was no mechanism in place for Members or the public to be kept informed of this important measure of how much money was owed to the Council, and therefore, it seemed that he had to continue this route as a written question under Questions on Notice. However, he had been pleased to see that the Council had managed to reduce its 90-day debt to just under £300k and he hoped that this would continue but taking into account the tough times ahead for some businesses that could affect commercial property income.  


The second point in his written question was in respect of debt that had been written off where it had stated in the response that nothing had been written off in the current tax year to date, this he felt to be most perplexing as when he had asked the very  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33/22


Minutes (for information only) (Agenda item 8)

To note the following Committee Minute documents:


Members were informed that the following Minutes were for information only and were reminded that they would have or would have had the opportunity to ask questions etc on these Minutes at the relevant meetings.




10 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 134 KB


The recommendations under Minute No. 10/22 (The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022/23) would be discussed under Agenda item 9 below (page 63 of the Agenda pack).


The confirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 10 January 2022 were duly noted.


7 February 2022 pdf icon PDF 143 KB


The recommendations under Minute No. 20/22 (The Budget Setting, Medium Term Financial Plan and Capital Strategy 2022-23) would be discussed under Agenda item 12 below (page 308 of the Agenda pack).


The unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 7 February 2022 were duly noted.


Overview & Scrutiny Commission: 27 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 168 KB


The unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 27 January 2022 were duly noted.


Licensing Committee: 12 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 201 KB


The unconfirmed Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 12 January 2022 were duly noted.


Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022 - 2023 (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance Revenues and Benefits.

Additional documents:


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


Breckland Council had strived year on year to make changes and improvements to the Local Council Tax Scheme (LCTRS) to make the application process much simpler and less challenging for those who required assistance.


There were four recommendations that had already been debated at the Cabinet meeting held 10 January 2022 and these had been sent to this Full Council meeting for adoption.


The proposals were as follows:


·        to reduce the ‘capital threshold’ for LCTRS from £16,000 to £10,000 and abolish the tariff income

·        to introduce a fixed rate reduction of £7.40 for all non-dependents in a household

·        To increase the tolerance for Universal Credit data reassessments from £65.00 to £100.00 a month.


In 2021/22 no changes had been proposed and the scheme that was implemented and adopted in 2020/21 had been retained.


Lorraine King, the Head of Benefits & Council Tax Billing (ARP) was in attendance to answer any detailed questions pertaining to the proposals.


The recommendations were proposed and seconded.


Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group felt this was a common-sense proposal which he welcomed, it saved the Council money in administration and made it clearer and easier for residents to understand and was therefore happy to support the recommendations.


Councillor Monument asked for clarification in respect of recommendation no. 2 and asked if the introduction of the fixed rate reduction of £7.40 was for all non-dependents or did it apply just once regardless of how many non-dependents were in a household.


The Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits said that he understood it as being for all non-dependents in a household but passed the question to the Head of Benefits & Council Tax Billing (ARP) to confirm.


Members were informed that the deduction was applicable to each non-dependent, for each extra adult in a household but if there was a couple there would only be one deduction per couple. There would be no deduction at all for those people on ‘passported’ benefits.


In response to a suggestion about whether the Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits would like to make a slight change to the second recommendation to read £7.40 for all non-dependents, Members were informed that the recommendation should remain unchanged as the Head of Benefits & Council Tax Billing (ARP) had previously explained and was therefore not appropriate.


Councillor Birt, the Leader of the Green Party was also content to vote for this relatively minor amendment, it was definitely a step in the right direction; however, he did remain concerned that one of the queries that he had previously raised had not been taken into account in respect of not having no real checks in place for those people who managed their affairs in such a way and appeared to be in need but in reality was not.


He also queried the 91.5% limit under proposal 2 that seemed odd as was the case for the lack of support for those homes greater than  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35/22


Pay policy statement 2022-23 (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 209 KB

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

Additional documents:


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


Under Section 38 of the Localism Act, the Pay Policy Statement was required to be produced annually and had to be approved by 31 March each year and published on the Council’s website.  This had been a requirement since 2012/13.


A pay policy statement for a financial year must set out the Authority’s policies for the financial year relating to:


• the remuneration of chief officers

• the remuneration of the lowest paid employees, and

• the relationship between chief officers’ remuneration and that of other officers.


Included in the Statement were the latest gender pay gap figures based on the snapshot date on 31 March 2021.  


The recommendation was proposed and seconded.


Councillor Birt said that for the most part he could not see any problems but had noted that only 2% had been allocated in the budget for pay increases and as he had constantly been told by Councillor Cowen the Bank of England inflation target was also set at 2% but this did not match reality and he hoped that the Council would be able to budget for any further future increase. 


He said that he was going to vote against this recommendation basically because of the mileage rate which could be seen on page 290 of the agenda pack.  He was opposed to 65p per mile as, in his opinion, it was excessive particularly as the vast majority of the public claimed just 45p per mile.


Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group had noticed that under section 6.12 of the report it stated that no consultation had been necessary with stakeholders and asked the Executive Member if he could clarify whether staff or union representatives had been consulted and if there was any feedback to report.


Susie Bangs, the HR Manager was asked to respond.


Members were informed that the Pay Policy Statement was just a statement of the salaries awarded each year, the pay award itself had yet to be consulted on and there were on-going discussions nationally that Breckland Council was part of, and conversations had already started with Unison.


Following 2 votes against the recommendation, it was:


RESOLVED that the Pay Policy Statement for 2022/23 be approved.


Quarter 3 financial performance report 2021-22 (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance Revenues and Benefits.

Additional documents:


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


Despite the Council’s best efforts, budget setting was never a fine art as events transpired to try and throw a spanner in the works during a fiscal year resulting in the Finance Team having to regularly review its financial position and adapt and change its position during the course of the year.  The Council had the opportunity to use some of its reserves to fund end of year overspend and to look at any surplus from the S31 grants.  In terms of capital, the Council had underspent by 20% and as highlighted in table 1 on pages 305 of the agenda pack it had been proposed that this underspend be carried forward for projects against which this funding had been posted to use again in the future. These carry forward requests formed part of the budget setting report at Agenda item 12.


Alison Chubbock, the Assistant Director of Finance & S151 Officer was in attendance to answer any questions.


The recommendations were proposed and seconded.


Following a unanimous vote in favour of the recommendations, it was:




1)     the revenues and benefits reserve be used to smooth the financial effect of the NNDR levy and surplus between 2021-22 and 2022-23 years as detailed in paragraph 1.5 of the report;


2)     the overspend at the 31 March 2022 be funded from the Growth & Investment Reserve; and


3)     the S31 Government grants additional 60% received in advance for the NNDR retail rate relief provided to businesses be held in the revenues and benefits reserve at the end of the year to cover the spend in 2022-23.


The Chairman read aloud the following statements that applied to both the Budget report at Agenda item 12 and the Council Tax report at Agenda item 13:


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


Members are 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.


Budget Setting, Medium Term Financial Plan and Capital Strategy 2022-23 (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 250 KB

Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance Revenues and Benefits.


Additional documents:


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


Budget setting in the present climate was always a challenging exercise and with the impact of the pandemic it had been even more demanding than usual. Nevertheless, he was delighted to be able to report that the Council had a balanced budget for the year ahead.


This Council was justifiably proud of its record of maintaining the full panoply of statutory services supplemented by a wide range of discretionary functions whilst maintaining the lowest rate of District Council tax not only in Norfolk but also England as defined by Her Majesty’s Government official statistics.


However, for the Council to provide its priorities, Thriving Places, Breckland 2035, Working Smarter and Inspiring Communities, this budget required a modest increase in Council Tax and using the national measure of a Band D property, this increase equated to £4.95 per year that would generate a figure for a Band D property of £103.68 per year or £1.99 per week.


The Budget, Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy, had already been presented to the Cabinet meeting held on 10 January2022 where it had been determined that the strategy be reviewed as confirmed in the resolution under item 9/22 of the published January minutes.


The budget papers were then brought back to the next Cabinet meeting in February 2022 (Minute No. 20/22) and it had been resolved to recommend to Full Council the six recommendations as listed in the report.


The recommendations were read aloud.


The draft budget was the subject of much discussion and debate, not only in Cabinet (twice) and the Overview and Scrutiny Commission but also through the formal public consultation process and he and the Finance Team was indebted to all who had joined in this process of free, frank and healthy discussions.


Members’ attention was then drawn to a number of key points:


·        This was a balanced budget for the coming year.

·        In order to maintain services, deliver on the Council’s core strategies and initiatives and support residents and businesses the budget contemplated a proposed increase in Council Tax for a Band D property of £4.95 per year, less than a 10p increase per week.

·        Whilst the report reflected the final Local Government settlement, it was now relatively silent on future trends but there was no doubt that the Council would face challenges in the future due to the widely trailed central government policies such as the Environment Bill.

·        There was a significant risk associated with the National Non-Domestic Rate (NNDR) and its reset that would change the baseline funding level with the impact being felt in either years 23/24 or 24/25.

·        Whilst there was no suggestion of an imminent Fair Funding Review, this was anticipated in the 25/26 fiscal year

·        Government had provided a further £830k of New Homes Bonus (NHB) and this had been posted to the Inclusive Growth Reserve.

·        The continuing impact of Covid 19 throughout the past 12 months had led the Council to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38/22


Council Tax 2022-23 (Agenda item 13) pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance Revenues and Benefits.

Additional documents:


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


As had been seen in the previous agenda item, the budget setting was a key component of the level of Council Tax set as a District that enabled this Council to provide the many statutory core services in addition to specific initiatives that was essential for the health and wellbeing of the residents and businesses within Breckland.


This Council supported the vulnerable and the homeless and also invested in the five market towns, it allocated community grants across the District and was supporting those in hardship as mentioned earlier with the community shop, the outreach food and support bus and the community fridges and alike.  This Council was also supporting businesses across the District.


The Council did received some support from Central Government but as Members were aware funding levels were reduced year on year and it received significant income as a Council through its fees and charges that were levied through the Council’s Environmental Health and Planning Services and alike, but in order to provide for all of the above, including those discretionary services, a District Council Tax had to be levied, and this Tax, the lowest of any district council in the Country, at around £100.68 for a Band D property, enabled the Council to affectively repay those Council Tax payers £750 worth of services to households across the District. 


The bottom line in this budget was for an outlay of £1.99 per week for a Band D property, residents received services, delivered and provided by this Council to the value of £14.42 which was a good dividend for the amount of money that this Council paid out. 


The Executive Member of Finance, Revenue & Benefits then proposed and read aloud the two recommendations which were duly seconded.    


Councillor Birt did not agree with the statement mentioned above in respect of the £750 worth of services as many residents had to pay extra for a garden waste bin and also had to pay extra to submit planning applications.  He felt that the Council provided a very small programme of statutory services and he had made multiple representations at Cabinet and at the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and his concerns had been almost partly ignored and therefore could not vote for this increase.


Councillor Atterwill had not voted in favour of the budget, the previous agenda item, but he would reluctantly vote for the increase in Council Tax, otherwise the budget would fail.


Councillor Gilbert could not support the Council Tax setting purely due to not agreeing with the Special Expenses; however, he wanted it to be noted that he had been very proud of the debate at this Council meeting even though the proposed amendments from the Opposition Members had not been supported.


Referring to Councillor Gilbert’s comment about Special Expenses relating to streetlights, Councillor Hewett, the Executive Member for Property & Projects explained that this service was provided at cost as could be seen at paragraph 1.3 of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39/22


Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 14)

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


The Deputy Leader, Councillor Claussen announced that Councillor Ian Sherwood had been nominated as the Chairman of Norfolk Climate Change Partnership Portfolio Holders Group, a new Outside Body organisation.


There were no further nominations.


Amendments to the Constitution (if any) (Agenda item 15)




Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent (Agenda item 16)

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.


There was no urgent business to report but the Chairman closed the meeting by stating that it had been very pleasing to actually have a proper debate in the Council Chamber as it did not happen that often and he hoped that the people watching on YouTube had thoroughly enjoyed it.