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 Askew, Borrett, Bowes, Morton, Nunn, Terry and Wickerson.


Minutes (Agenda item 2) pdf icon PDF 562 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22 February 2023.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 22 February 2023 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.



None declared.


Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4) pdf icon PDF 51 KB


Councillor Nairn addressed his last Full Council meeting in his capacity as Chairman of the Council.  At the next meeting he would be handing over his chain of office to a new Chairperson in front of a newly elected Council.  He was therefore truly humbled to share with everyone that for the last 12 months it had been an absolute pleasure to work with Members and Officers alike.  All had worked hard to represent their residents and had promoted Breckland, highlighting the amazing work of residents, encouraging its fantastic businesses and sharing stories about the unsung heroes who worked in the community every day.


He had thoroughly enjoyed fulfilling his role as Chairman, and he thanked everyone for their support.


One of his last duties would be the honour of celebrating the coronation of King Charles III but he would be forever moved by the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, monarch for the last 70 years.  Her steadfast duty and service to the UK and the wider commonwealth countries would be an inspiration to the generations to come.


He had witnessed many changes over the last 12 months, not just locally, but globally.  He therefore wanted to thank the work of his Council colleagues who had supported him throughout this period.  Their dedication and professional advice would be something he would remember fondly in the years to come and would be forever grateful.


The Chairman then offered his thanks to Teresa Smith and Jo Elks, from the Democratic Services Team whose invaluable management and arrangement of all his events had meant so much.  


Since becoming Chairman in 2022, he had been dedicated in promoting the Breckland district, and the tremendous work taking place every day to support residents, especially the most vulnerable.  One of his main drivers had been to shine a light on an army of often unsung community heroes.  These heroes did not wear capes, but they shared their expertise, empathy, and the most valuable resource in the world, their time.  Whilst fulfilling his duties, he had been honoured to meet heroes like this every day and was in awe of their passion and commitment.


He was humbled to be joined by Tim Owen, a founding member of Papyrus, and one of the 3-Dads Walking.  Papyrus was dedicated to the prevention of youth suicide, the promotion of positive mental health and emotional wellbeing in young people.   Suicide was the biggest killer of people under the age of 35 and sadly numbers of suicides had started to increase in people of secondary school age.   The mission of 3-Dads Walking had recently been highlighted in Parliament, with MP’s debating whether suicide awareness could be added into the national curriculum that the Chairman fully supported. 


Papyrus was one of his nominated charities this year and he therefore urged everyone present at this meeting, to visit the Papyrus website, and to contact Tim, to see what support they could offer.


The Chairman then thanked his wife Sue, who had been his rock  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/23


Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

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



The Leader thanked the Chairman for his stewardship over the past year and for the incredible work he had carried out particularly for his chosen charities.

As this was the final meeting of Full Council under the current political term, the Leader reflected on some of the things this Council had achieved recently on behalf of the residents and businesses of Breckland.

He was delighted that Breckland Council would shortly have the opportunity to show what a difference this council was making to some of its residents most in need, when the Princess Royal visits Elm House, in Thetford where She would be able to see how this authority’s £1.8m investment has enabled an award-winning refurbishment to take place and brought a dis-used community facility back into use for the Breckland community. Elm House was providing a temporary home for up to 35 people who were in need of temporary housing and support.

Whilst on the Elm House site, the Princess Royal would also be able to see the new Move-On Accommodation which had recently been completed. These five new homes formed part of a multi-million-pound investment to tackle homelessness in the district and had been delivered using external grant funding and in partnership with Broadland Housing Group. The former rough sleepers who were now moving into the new homes would be provided with essential support from Breckland Council’s partner Access Community Trust, that would help them rebuild their lives.

In a few weeks’ time, representatives from the Council would be going to London to make a case to a panel of judges as to why this district council should win a prestigious award for its outstanding Inspiring Communities work.

As finalists in the LGC awards, this authority’s £1m programme had already been recognised as exceptional and the judges would be told of how it had operated in ways that no other district council in the country was working. Alongside partners in the NHS and charity sectors, Breckland Council was helping to deliver the very best, holistic care to its residents, helping them with access to mental health support, tackling domestic abuse, reducing isolation and loneliness, and helping individuals overcome financial difficulties.

Over the last term, this Council had invested heavily in communities throughout the Breckland district. A further £41,000 in grant funding had been announced, bringing the total released over the lifetime of the Inspiring Communities scheme to more than £300,000.  This was on top of the hundreds of thousands this Council had invested in communities through the Market Towns Initiative, which had helped deliver projects such as the Queen Mother’s Garden refurbishment in Dereham, that was officially opened recently.

It had overseen the ongoing growth of Breckland and the safeguarding of jobs. Most recently with the completion of the new power substation in Snetterton, which would enable existing businesses to grow and new businesses to come into the area, bringing jobs for local people.

A most comprehensive plan had been produced for the district’s future growth in this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24/23


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


None received.


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


Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group, thanked the Chairman and everyone involved for delivering the Chairman’s reception which he thoroughly enjoyed.  It had been a particular honour for him to welcome all concerned to Thetford - to the Ward that he represented.


He directed his question to the Leader.  He had recently met with workers from Serco in Watton who were currently campaigning for improved pay, terms and conditions. During the time that he had been with them they mentioned how pleased they were to have been given the chance to speak to the Leader of North Norfolk Council but had been disappointed, as Breckland residents themselves, that their own Council Leader was not able to do the same.  He asked the Leader when he would be taking the time to meet them.


The Leader was pleased that through the industrial action that took place recently, that Breckland Council was able to keep up with all the activities in collecting the bins by the end of that week.  He did receive a communication from Serco but unfortunately had been very busy at the time and had other matters to attend to but had met with Serco staff on numerous occasions over the last couple of months and would be happy to do so again.  He was aware that the Cabinet member responsible for waste & recycling had visited the staff on his behalf and reminded Members that Serco staff were not employees of this Council and therefore it would be inappropriate for him to intervene, but he would be happy to work with the contract managers and the senior officers at Serco around any concerns or issues they might have.


Cllr Atterwill, the Leader of the Independent Group was aware that Councillor Webb, the Executive Member for Health & Communities had sent all Members a copy of the Health & Wellbeing Partnership Strategy recently which he felt was quite light on detail but listed a number of actions and asked when Members could expect to receive the detailed action plan.  One area of concern he had found was in respect of the housing and adaptations to facilitate independent living.  The Cabinet Member for Housing had informed the Overview & Scrutiny Commission recently that in 2023/24 without any additional government funding the available funding would be short of somewhere between £887k and £1.9m of what was required. In light of this shortfall, how would the Health & Wellbeing Partnership hope to achieve its strategy and overcome this issue.


Councillor Webb was pleased that Councillor Atterwill had taken the time to read this Strategy as she had always tried to be upfront about what this Council was doing in terms of the Partnership.  Achieving such a partnership had been a good step forward but there was still a great deal of work to be done and rolled out.  There were issues that needed to be looked at, but all these statistics had been backed up by evidence from different organisations, and if she was re-elected,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26/23


Minutes (for information only) (Agenda item 8)

To note the following Minutes:


Planning Committee: 14 February 2023 pdf icon PDF 255 KB


The confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 14 February 2023 were noted.


General Purposes Committee: 9 February 2023 pdf icon PDF 244 KB


The confirmed Minutes of the General Purposes Committee meeting held on 9 February 2023 were noted.


Pay Policy Statement 2023/24 (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Report of Councillor Jane James, Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services.

Additional documents:


Councillor Jane James, the Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services introduced the report.


Sarah Barsby, the Assistant Director for People & Governance stated that under Section 38 of the Localism Act, a pay policy statement was required to be produced annually and must be approved by 31 March each year and published on the Council’s website soon after the decision had been made.


This had been a requirement since 2012/13 and 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

·         the relationship between chief officers’ remuneration and that of other officers


Included in the Statement was the latest Gender Pay Gap figure based on the snapshot date of 31 March 2022 and the Mean Gender Pay Gap figure was 16%, a slight improvement from the previous year of 16.6%.


Councillor Birt referred to page 68 of the agenda pack in respect of the Returning Officer receiving an additional fee but had noticed that there was no indication of the magnitude of the payment involved.


The Assistant Director for People & Governance said that she did not have that information to hand but would be happy to share this with Councillor Birt after the meeting.


Councillor James then proposed and quoted the recommendation that could be found on page 59 of the agenda pack, which was seconded by Councillor Marion Chapman-Allen.


Following a unanimous vote, it was:


RESOLVED that the Pay Policy Statement 2023/24 be approved.


Delivery of Planning & Building Control services (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Report of Councillor Sarah Suggitt, Executive Member for Strategic & Operational Planning, and Rob Walker, Deputy Chief Executive.

Additional documents:


Sarah Suggitt, the Executive Member for Strategic & Operational Planning presented the report that was in respect of the Planning & Building Control service that had been contracted out to Capita for the past 14 years.


The current 15-year Capita contract would end in June 2024. Within the contract, the Council had a unilateral right to extend the agreement by a further 5 years, but to do so confirmation must be provided12 months in advance.


Given the scale of importance that this opportunity provided, an exercise had been carried out to fully understand the options available.


The options identified were to extend the contract, to retender, to share the service or to bring it back in-house.   


Various difficulties were highlighted with these options including procurement rules, other local authorities’ appetite to share the service, the contract being quite inflexible, and the market changes for outsourcing such products had changed significantly.


The recommendation was therefore to bring the service back in-house.  This would mean a natural end to the contract.  The contract was taken out for 15 years and this was the aim of the Council.


The TUPE process would commence to transfer all Capita staff back to Breckland Council.  There would be no re-design initially but this would provide an option for Breckland to have a defined future fit model for the future.


As would be expected for any long term relationship, the past 14 years had shown many ups and downs but Councillor Suggitt was keen to point out that this Council had a strong relationship with Capita.


Nationally, Capita had provided support and resilience to this Council which it would be forever grateful. Locally, this Council had an exceptional Planning & Building Control Team, they had a great reputation, respect amongst their peers, had demonstrated great performance, and had an enviable position in terms of recruitment, retention and development. This was a huge credit to the management team, that despite factors such as Nutrient Neutrality, the Government White Papers and the update of the Local Plan, this Council still had a team that showed such great credentials and a service that this Council should be proud of.      


Despite all the technicalities, the biggest impact would be on the staff, and all were reassured that support would be available to guide everyone through the process.


Annual savings of around £200k would be made, and this Council would also receive all future income from major planning applications.


This was an important first step in where this Council sees this service going.


The recommendations were read aloud and proposed accordingly and were seconded by Councillor Kiddle-Morris.


Councillor Clarke said that as a long standing Member of the Planning Committee he was pleased that this service was coming back  in-house and paid tribute to all the staff in the planning department and looked forward to an even better service in the future.

Councillor Atterwill raised a question in regard to the future fit part of the process and in relation to the third recommendation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29/23


Norfolk Investment Framework (NIF) (Agenda item 11) pdf icon PDF 234 KB

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

Additional documents:


Councillor Paul Claussen, the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economic Development and Growth presented the report.


Breckland Council had been working with the Wayland Partnership for several years to develop a proposal for a multi-use centre on Watton High Street. This would house a number of facilities, including business support, office space and training, focused on the growing digital and creative media sectors; whilst also containing a range of commercial and leisure facilities. This proposed mixed-used facility, had been referred to as the Wayland Digital & Creative Media Centre (DCMC).


If approved this would be a step closer of realising the vision and as a major piece of regeneration this would establish a new anchor point at the western end of the High Street catalysing investment and boosting footfall. This would be the only centre of its kind in the region and would be a national first.


A project of this ambition was not straight forward and required significant investment but had already attracted some substantial private interest.  He was delighted to announce that Breckland Council had been successful in securing £125k of funding from Norfolk County Council via its Norfolk Investment Framework, and this would deliver the first stages of the project.   


This funding would be put towards a year long pilot project within the existing Wayland House building delivering training to this particular sector.  The funding would also be used to fund technical expertise to deliver a full business case enabling the project to be best placed to secure future capital funding.


The recommendations were proposed and seconded.


Councillor Kiddell thanked Breckland Council for bringing this project forward as it would be great for Watton, and she was pleased to represent the town as this would put Watton on the map if approved.


Councillor Eagle felt that this was a fantastic project and the site was so convenient as it was passed one of the main schools in Watton and would provide an opportunity for people to widen their horizons and apply for better jobs.  He then expanded on the gaming and development sector in the UK. He then paid credit to Dr David Dent from the Wayland Partnership and the Wayland Chamber of Commerce as this had initially been his idea and no-one should be discouraged from bringing their ideas forward for the district.


Councillor James, the Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services sated that Thetford had played host to an international gaming event 3 times over the last 18 months that was excellent for the local economy, and she anticipated that if the recommendations were approved the same would happen for Watton.


Following a vote which was unanimous, it was:




1.    the Council accepts the funding awarded to Breckland from the Norfolk Investment Framework (NIF) to deliver work that will bring forward the Wayland Digital & Creative Media Centre (DCMC) project; and


2.    delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director for Economy & Growth (in consultation with the Executive Member for Economic Development  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30/23


Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 12)

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




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 paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 12A to the Act”



The exclusion of press and public was not required.


General Purposes Committee: 9 February 2023 - Restricted (Agenda item 16)


These Minutes were not discussed.

Chairman's c;losing remarks

The Chairman thanked all Members for their support over the last year, he had thoroughly enjoyed his time as Chairman of Breckland Council.