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

Vice-Chairman in the Chair

Councillor Wilkinson, the Vice-Chairman of the Council, in the Chair.


Apologies (Agenda item 1)

To receive apologies for absence. 


Apologies were received from Councillors Bushell, Colman, Dowling, Gilbert, Kiddle-Morris, Nairn ,Oliver and Terry.


Minutes (Agenda item 2) pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2022.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2022 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


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.



Councillor Cowen declared an interest under Agenda Item 9(a) Cabinet Minute No.  95/22- Breckland Local Plan Partial Update, as he operated an architectural practice.



Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4) pdf icon PDF 142 KB


On behalf of the Chairman of the Council, the Vice-Chairman made the following announcements:


Thelma Paines


Former Councillor, Thelma Paines, had sadly passed away in October.  As well as being a Thetford Town Councillor, she was also a Breckland Councillor for Thetford, and Chairman of Breckland Council during 1997-1998. 


A minute’s silence was then held.


Staff Event


The fantastic work that went into arranging the raffle for the Staff Event on the 30 November was highlighted. The prizes had all been donated, and the amount of £644.50 raised for the Chairman’s chosen charities on the evening had been overwhelming. Nigel Steggles and Jordan White were congratulated for their sterling work in arranging the raffle and the Chairman’s personal thanks were conveyed to both.


Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

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



The Leader made the following announcements:


The winter period was now upon us, many would be looking forward to Christmas and spending time with families and friends, but it was important to remember that the colder times would bring its own challenges for a number of Breckland residents.  The Leader took this opportunity to share with everyone just some of the ways this Council was helping Breckland residents at this time.


Warm homes

Firstly, as Breckland Council was a member of the Norfolk Warm Homes partnership, residents in the district could access a £3.8m funding pot to help improve the energy efficiency of their homes.


This included help with paying for wall and loft insulation as well as renewable air source heat pumps and more. This support was helping low-income households across Breckland – and Norfolk – to reduce their energy bills, as well as their carbon footprint.


He was pleased to inform Members that as a direct result of this Council’s campaign to raise awareness of such support, including writing directly to around 2,500 residents, believed to be eligible for such support, as well as including information about it in the latest Breckland residents’ magazine, a record number of applications had been received. Approximately, 75% of applications in November were directly as a result of the promotion.


Now that December was here, the partnership would no longer be taking applications for external wall insulation due to the temperature condition requirements for installation, but applications would continue to be accepted for other types of support.


The Leader urged all Members – and anybody watching at home – to check the details, eligibility criteria and support available at the



Daisy Programme support

The Christmas and New Year period could bring heightened anxiety for those experiencing domestic abuse and through the Council’s £1m Inspiring Communities programme, it continued to support some of Breckland’s most vulnerable residents.


Sadly, around 6,000 people in the district were estimated to be victims of domestic abuse each year but many cases went unreported. In the latest report from the Daisy Programme – the Council’s charity partner, which helped people recover from domestic abuse –thanks to funding and the partnership, in the last year the Daisy Programme had supported more than 1,000 Breckland residents and their families to be safe, achieve better well-being and move on with confidence.

The partnership had helped nearly 100 children and young people to achieve a better start to their lives and understanding had been increased and awareness of domestic abuse within Breckland communities, encouraging more people to come forward to access help.

This support was still growing, and the Daisy Programme had also trained more than 200 professionals in Breckland, including Breckland Council officers, to provide further support to people affected by domestic and sexual abuse.


Business support

December was a particularly important time for local businesses, and residents were encouraged to make the most of the fantastic independent traders up and down the district whilst doing their  ...  view the full minutes text for item 118/22


Questions on Notice under Standing Order No 6 (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 220 KB


The questions on notice including the responses had been published prior to the meeting. No further questions could be asked under this item.


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


Given this was a Conservative led Government and Conservative led County Council, Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group, was sure that the Leader had been fully briefed on the Devolution Deal and asked him if he could provide more details. 


The Leader was aware through the press and media that the Secretary of State was paying a visit to Norfolk County Council to sign a Devolution Deal offer but as a District Councillor and a Council Leader he had not been privy to what was being included. He was sure that in time the information would be shared with him and in turn the information would then be shared with Members of this Council.  He had been encouraged by the work of the Conservative Government in respect of the Levelling-Up Agenda and what it was striving to achieve around the twelve themes, and the monies it would be pumping into towns and high streets, and he hoped that the deal that was being negotiated with Norfolk County Council would be positive and would be supporting residents and businesses across the County.


Councillor Atterwill, the Leader of the Independent Group was aware of the recent statement by the Government where it was announced that housing targets for District Councils were going to be scrapped and asked Councillor Suggitt, the Executive Member for Strategic & Operational Planning how this would affect Breckland’s Local Plan review and if it was going to be paused or the direction changed.


The Executive Member for Strategic & Operational Planning did not know the exact details, but the Local Plan process would not be halted and would continue to be reviewed.  Much of the information that had been released had been quite positive as it would put more emphasis on local matters and therefore the work would continue and would not be aborted. 


The Leader stated that as part of the written statement received from the Secretary of State to Westminster on 6 December, it laid out some of the aspirations of what he wanted to achieve through the Levelling-Up Bill and part of that included a consultation process.  As Councillor Suggitt stated, a great deal of the information presented had been very positive, and he knew that this District Council had been lobbying hard through the District Council’s Network (DCN) to get many of those changes’ forthcoming, but he was not going to get excited and start to chalk this up as a success until he saw this within the Bill.  The challenge for Breckland Council, was to ensure that it was using the knowledge as Members to ensure that through the consultation process that the responses were robust, and the proof would be in the Bill.  No abortive work would be undertaken, and all Members would be kept regularly informed.


Councillor Atterwill thanked the Leader and the Executive Member for their answers but was disappointed that district councils were being kept in the dark.


Councillor Birt felt that over the years central government had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 120/22


Motion Received under Standing Order No. 8 (Agenda item 8)

Motion proposed by Councillor Terry Land

Seconded by Councillor Philip Morton 

Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) 

As at 15th November 2022, there are 332 people in the Breckland District waiting to be assessed by Occupational Therapists for DFG adaptations. 175 people have already been assessed but are waiting for funding to become available to implement the assessment’s findings. On average, there are 15 new enquiries per week. On this basis, there could be a further 240 on the DFG waiting list by 1stApril 2023, more than 750 in total. It is likely that when the funding is refreshed in the new financial year, it will be entirely inadequate to cope with this level of backlog. 

There is clear evidence for the effectiveness of the use of Disabled Facilities Grants in reducing the risk of harm and also in reducing costs in health and social care.  

·         The average Disabled Facilities Grant of £7,000 saves on average four years of residential care at £28,000 a year (£112,000). 

·         The Disabled Facilities Grant helps reduce the cost of care at home. For every £1 spent on a DFG, £7.14 is saved on health and social care costs. 

It is widely recognized that the amount available for disabled facilities grants from central government, is not enough for the demand in Breckland. It is more than likely that we will be in this position again next year if the allocation from central government is not increased. In the Government’s recent policy paper an increase of funding was pledged, but Breckland’s allocation did not increase this financial year and we do not know if there will be an increase next year.

Council therefore resolves to: 

·         Allocate an additional £100,000 from the Inclusive Growth Reserve to the Disabled Facilities Grant budget in the 2022/23 financial year to tackle the backlog of adaptations that have been assessed as being required.


·         Write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to highlight the problem of insufficient funding to complete the required number of adaptations to people’s homes and the inevitable knock-on effect that this has on other aspects of the health and social care system.


In accordance with the Constitution, Councillor Land was given the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind his Notice of Motion.


Councillor Land stated that post pandemic, the NHS was under intolerable stress. It was estimated that there were over 100,000 vacancies for care workers across the country with the figure constantly rising.  This was what was causing all the waiting times by ambulances outside hospitals as beds were unavailable.  Therefore, this Motion, which would relieve pressure on the care system was a win, win.


Councillor land then spoke about his parents who were both in ill health and the issues they had with trying to get help from occupational health, thankfully, this had been sorted, but if that help had not been available they would have had two choices, help at home that was not always available or be moved into a care home which was not an option for either of them.  By approving this Motion, it would help the NHS in the short term and save many 1000s of pounds in social care costs.


The Motion was seconded by Councillor Morton.


Councillor Birt fully supported this Motion as it was crucial that this Council did something.  Data now showed that the stress in respect of these matters within the district was on the increase and this was one way that this Council could help and would be a perfect use of council money.


Councillor Jermy said that he had been involved a great deal with the health service over the last few weeks and he had found it very interesting in talking to various carers and NHS staff and the stresses that they were under.  Bed hopping was causing many issues and disabled adaptions could help. But what had been less clear was the impact this was having on peoples’ mental health.  The adaptations that his father had been lucky enough to receive had made him much more independent due to some simple adaptations and had promoted his independence. He was aware that Breckland Council could not solve the problems in the NHS or the social care system, but it did have a role in respect of these disabled facility grants and how these were spent and to top these funds up between now and April and he was pleased to support this Motion.


Councillor Turner referred to her Question on Notice and the response received that explained the work that this Council was already doing.


Councillor Atterwill fully supported this Motion and had taken great interest in the Question on Notice and the response received.  The response that Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Housing & Homelessness had provided was welcomed but as a Council it could look into the range of services that it provided.  It had the means to provide the extra funding and allow the Team to sift through the applications as quickly as possible and he urged all Members to get behind this to allow people to retain their dignity and remain in their  ...  view the full minutes text for item 121/22


Minutes (for information only) (Agenda item 9)

To note the following Minutes:


Cabinet: 21 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 244 KB


Councillor Birt asked why there had not been any livestreaming and recording of the meeting carried out when the Cabinet met at Swaffham Town Council.  The Chairman stated that the question was not relevant for this meeting.


The Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 21 November 2022 were noted.


Overview & Scrutiny Commission: 20 October 2022 pdf icon PDF 183 KB


Referring to Minute No. 79/22, Councillor Birt said that he had asked for a copy of the Serco contract and had submitted a FOI request to release section 2 of the Serco contract, but this had not been forthcoming and felt that this document would have been very useful for the Task & Finish Group.


The Chairman stated that the Minutes were for any errors within the Minutes and not for questions.


The Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 20 October 2022 were noted.


Governance and Audit Committee: 29 September 2022 pdf icon PDF 196 KB


The Minutes of the Governance & Audit Committee meeting held on 29 September 2022 were noted.


Planning Committee: 4 October 2022 pdf icon PDF 245 KB


The Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 4 October 2022 were noted.


Planning Committee: 1 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 382 KB


The Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 1 November 2022 were noted.


Committee of the Licensing Authority: 19 October 2022 pdf icon PDF 151 KB


The Minutes of the Committee of the Licensing Authority meeting held on 19 October 2022 were noted.


Licensing Committee: 19 October 2022 pdf icon PDF 133 KB


The Minutes of the Licensing Authority meeting held on 19 October 2022 were noted.


Appointment of Independent Remuneration Panel (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 200 KB

Report of Rob Walker, Deputy Chief Executive & Monitoring Officer.


Rory Ringer, the Democratic Services Manager & Deputy Monitoring Officer presented the report.


The report recommended the appointment of an Independent Remuneration Panel for the period 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2026.


The names of the three suitable candidates were highlighted.


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor James, the Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services and was seconded by the Deputy Leader, Councillor Claussen.


Councillor Jermy felt disappointed that only 3 individuals in total had come forward and all were male, and all had served on the Panel before.  He found it difficult to believe that not one more person in Breckland had expressed an interest and felt that either the advert had not worked or there was not a single person in Breckland other than these 3 who had expressed an interest.  He was disappointed that Members were being asked to appoint a Panel for a 4-year term without any new opinions or ideas coming forward which the Council would receive by having new individuals and having a Panel that consisted of entirely male members was unfair as, in his opinion, gender balance was critical.  He then proposed an amendment to the recommendation which was to appoint the Panel in its current form, but to re-advertise to try and attract new members specifically female members to join the Panel.


The Leader thanked Councillor Jermy for his remarks. He was certain that Councillor Jermy did not mean that when Councillors were re-elected for a 4-year term, they did not bring along any new thinking and by re-appointing individuals to the IRP for a 4-year period were not by any means different to Councillors. The process was the process, and acknowledged that representation was immensely important, and it would be inappropriate to defer this for any longer as this was a statutory requirement and the appointments needed to be established so that the Panel could undertake this work ahead of the Elections in 2023.


In response, Councillor Jermy said that he was not clear on the urgency, as the existing scheme existed until May 2023. He drew attention to section 3.1 of the report where it stated: ‘to enable appropriate appointments to be made ahead of the next meeting of the IRP in early 2023’.   In his opinion, there was still plenty of time to re-advertise and hopefully recruit some new people and enable an IRP meeting to go ahead between now and May 2023.


The Leader stated that, these individuals had come forward and he respected and applauded them for willing to support local democracy and local councils.  There was other business to undertake, and it was not his place as an Elected Member to lead or influence the Democratic Services Manager or the Monitoring Officer as they had felt it to be appropriate to bring this report forward for work to be undertaken early in 2023.  He acknowledged Councillor Jermy’s concerns but was unsure if anyone else would apply if it went out for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 123/22


Political Group Regulations (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Report of Rob Walker, Deputy Chief Executive & Monitoring Officer.


The Democratic Services Manager presented the report that asked Members to confirm, in accordance with the Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990, the Political Balance of the Council’s Committees.


Following recent changes to political group numbers it was now appropriate to review the Council’s political balance on Committee seats.  The allocations had been highlighted on pages 77 to 78 of the agenda pack.


The recommendation as listed in the report was proposed by Councillor James, the Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services and seconded by the Deputy Leader, Councillor Claussen.


Councillor Morton asked how the numbers were allocated to each committee was determined, particularly in respect of Licensing Committee that had more Members than others.


The Democratic Services Manager explained that the Licensing Committee and the Committee of the Licensing Authority had up to a maximum of 15 Members and all Committee numbers were determined by Full Council.


Following a vote, which included 1 vote against and 1 abstention, the recommendation was approved.


RESOLVED that following a review of seat allocation, the political balance of Committees as listed in the report be approved.


Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 12)

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


Planning Committee


Councillor Crane be replaced by Councillor Plummer and Councillor Taylor be appointed as substitute.


Licensing Committee/Committee of the Licensing Authority


Councillor Wickerson be appointed to the above Committees.


Amendments to the Constitution (if any) (Agenda item 13)




Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent (Agenda item 14)

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.




Exclusion of Press & Public (Agenda item 15)

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 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.





Not required.


Restricted Cabinet Minutes: 21 November 2022 (Agenda item 16)


These Minutes were not discussed.

Vice-Chairman's Closing Remarks

Councillor Wilkinson, the Vice-Chairman in the Chair, again apologised for the livestreaming issues but wished all Members and Officers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.