Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham
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To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 18 December 2008.
Subject to an amendment to Minute No 130/08 (a) (line 5) to read county-wide rather than country-wide the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 December 2008 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
APOLOGIES (Agenda Item 2)
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Mr P Balaam, Mr A Byrne, Mrs M Chapman-Allen, Mr P Hewett, Mr F Sharpe, Mr I Sherwood, Mr N Wilkin and Mr D Williams JP.
DECLARATION OF INTEREST (Agenda Item 3)
Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.
The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is personal or prejudicial.
The following declarations of interest were noted:
Lady Fisher Personal and Prejudicial interest in Agenda Items 5, 6, 9 and 10 relating to the Thetford Growth Point, and LDF site specifics, as her husband's family are major landowners promoting this land.
Mr Bambridge Personal interest in matters of planning by virtue of gaining part of his income from developers and builders.
Mr Childerhouse Personal and Prejudicial interest in the LDF by virtue of being a land-owner at Weeting.
Mr Labouchere Personal and Prejudicial interest in anything to do with the LDF in North Elmham by virtue of being a landowner and Personal interest in Hermitage Ward
Councillor Bowes Personal interest in Cabinet Minute No 10/09, page 13, site specifics, as family have previously put land forward under the process
Mr Cowen Personal interest in any matter relating to the LDF and associated matters as a consequence of being an Architect in practice in Breckland. If any matters are debated that relate to issues about which I judge my interest to change to one of a prejudicial nature I shall absent myself for the duration of that debate
Mr Kybird Personal and Prejudicial as local builder in regard to any site specifics matters in relation to the Thetford Area Action Plan.
Mrs Hewett Personal interest as a landowner in Shipdham with land in the LDF and as a Breckland District Councillor.
Mr Askew Personal interest in the LDF by virtue of having land under consideration.
Mr Duffield Personal and Prejudicial interest in the LDF.
CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS (Agenda Item 4)
The Chairman announced that Agenda Item 14, the presentation on the Cleaner, Safer, Greener Charter, would follow the Cabinet minutes. After which there would be a short adjournment whilst photographs were taken to mark the launch of the Charter.
He then told Members that it was his sad duty to notify them of the loss of a local man, Ben Whatley from Tittleshall, who had died in the conflict in Afghanistan during the Christmas period. The Chairman had written to the family on behalf of the Council. Members observed a moment of silence.
Members were reminded that a briefing on external funding would follow the meeting and that nominations for the Pride in Breckland awards would close at the weekend.
The Executive Member (Communities) then told Members that Breckland would have its first Youth Council by the end of the following week. A team would be on the road between 2 and 6 February, visiting the market towns and encouraging young people to vote. Information about the events was on the Council’s website.
Engagements List – 18 December, 2008 – 28 January, 2009
Unconfirmed minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 13 January 2009.
(a) Budget Settings (Minute No 6/09)
The Executive Member (Governance) presented the report and said the budget setting had involved wide consultation. She thanked and congratulated the Finance team for its work at a very challenging time.
The Assistant Director Governance then gave a brief presentation, recapping the recommendations.
There had been a huge cut in base rates resulting in over £1 million in lost income. Inflation had been difficult to manage and fee earnings were down. However, by using general balances which were healthy, the impact had been minimised and it was almost certain that Council Tax would remain the lowest in the country.
The Leader of the Labour Group pointed to the fact that the Government had given a twelve month breathing space to deal with the Icelandic bank problem.
He was happy to support the disabled facilities grants for the needy and vulnerable in society, but he did not support the continued use of money to mount legal challenges to the Local Government Review and hoped this would cease forthwith.
Another Member was concerned about the number of people in need of housing. He was pleased that the Government was permitting councils to build houses and take rent. He said that there was land available and this was a once in a lifetime chance to start building and to give something back to the people. £1 million could come from the reserves and £1 million from capital projects to support this proposal.
The Leader of the Council responded by saying that the Council already had the ‘Mud to Houses’ project running and talks were taking place with developers to see how to provide houses to hold and rent for the future.
The Executive Member for Business Transformation echoed the earlier congratulations to the Finance team for their work. He emphasised that the budget had been set on prudent lines but still allowed for expanded services and he quoted the expansion of the Customer Contact Centres as an example.
Another Member wondered where the money was coming from, since the Council had been using income to offset the Council Tax rate for some time and how, with less money coming in, the rate could still be kept low and services increased.
The Assistant Director (Governance) said this had been very challenging. However the Council was still performing well in commercial property and had been prudent historically. Many people had been employed for specific jobs on fixed term contracts and there would be savings as these came to an end. Also, of the remaining investments, some were still returning 6% as they had been fixed for three years.
The Executive Member (Economic and Commercial) spoke of the funding that the Housing Team had managed to secure for affordable housing schemes, disabled facilities grants and fuel poverty. He also endorsed the work on the Rev 2 Project which would deliver significant growth along the A11 corridor. He said all officers should be congratulated.
The Executive Member (Communities) also congratulated the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
PRIDE IN BRECKLAND - CLEANER, SAFER, GREENER CHARTER (Agenda Item 14)
Presentation by the Strategic Director, Services.
The Executive Member for Communities told Members that the Charter was designed to strengthen local democracy and to empower people. He then introduced Mr Steve Graham the Delivery Director for ENCAMS (formerly Keep Britain Tidy).
Mr Graham thanked Members for the opportunity to give them a brief presentation. He said he represented a charity which aimed to change people’s habits.
The Charity’s main role was to campaign, in partnership with other agencies and working closely with the Government, to develop new legislation. It also produced a Local Environment Quality Survey of England.
The Charter provided a robust, voluntary agreement which set out the mutual rights, responsibilities and expectations between service providers, residents, social landlords and local residents for creating a clean, safe and green neighbourhood.
It would help the Council to achieve its own priorities and national target indicators and also ensured that service delivery was tailored to local people.
Breckland was the first district council in England to adopt the Charter and Steve Graham said he was privileged to be involved with such an aspirational and visionary Council.
(At this point the meeting was adjourned for 10 minutes for media photographs to mark the launch of the Charter).
Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 8 January 2009.
Lady Fisher had declared a personal and prejudicial interest and left the room whilst these minutes were discussed.
(a) Draft Estimates 2009-10 – Consultation (Minute No 4/09)
A Member commented on the publicity surrounding the amount of money being spent in Thetford and pointed out that much of the capital receipts originated there and the town was not diminishing funds disproportionately.
Another Member asked for a press release to show where capital investment was being made. The Chief Executive pointed out that the capital programme had been published as part of the budget.
(b) Local Development Framework – Thetford Area Action Plan – Preferred Options (Minute No 5/09)
A Thetford Member said the railway station parking problem had arisen because so much land surrounding the station had been lost to housing. He asked that any future land that became available in the area should be used for station parking.
The Executive Member for Planning and the Environment mentioned that the Thetford Area Action Plan would be going out for consultation shortly giving an opportunity to comment on future plans.
(c) Revised Scrutiny Arrangements & Ways of Working (Minute No 9/09)
(1) the new protocols, as amended, to govern and inform the function and process of scrutiny at Breckland Council be adopted;
(2) the following nominations for the appointment of the three Task and Finish Group Chairmen be approved:
· Mr R Kybird
· Mr M Kiddle-Morris
· Mr J D Rogers
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 8 January 2009 be adopted.
Unconfirmed minutes of the joint special meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and Audit Committee held on 19 January 2009.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission presented the minutes and said that although they were a good summary he wanted to see more detail of the thorough and intensive meeting that had taken place.
The Member Services Manager responded that a full set of minutes had been produced as always; showing the recommendation and summarising the proceedings. The meeting had extended to four hours and over 100 questions had been asked and answered and at the conclusion a clear recommendation had been made.
The Executive Member for Business Transformation thanked the members of the joint Overview and Scrutiny Commission and Audit meeting for their work.
He said there were some outstanding issues which needed to be investigated and proposed an amendment to the recommendation, referring it back to Cabinet for a decision. This would also give an opportunity to appoint three additional ‘shop floor’ members of staff to the Review Panel.
The outstanding issues concerned staff pensions; restriction on trading; and minimum provisions. Unison had also raised concerns that needed to be investigated.
Mr Gilbert said he was happy for further investigations to take place but he wanted an opportunity to speak on the matter and asked that it come back to Council for a decision.
The Chief Executive explained that since the budget of £30,000 for due diligence had been approved the matter was now an Executive decision and would not come back to Council.
The Leader of the Labour Group had no objection to the deferral as this was an important decision. He hoped that all staff and the union would be consulted, not just the Review Panel.
The Executive Member for Business Transformation said that it was a statutory requirement to consult all staff. He also emphasised that the decision had not been made and would not be made until a full consideration of all the facts had been undertaken. He also confirmed that the contract would be available for all to see by 24 February to enable informed comments at the Cabinet meeting.
Mr Gilbert sought to table a proposal to amend the new recommendation to require the decision to be made by Council, but the Deputy Chief Executive said that it was not possible within the terms of the Local Government Act as, being within budget and in accordance with policy the matter came within the Executive’s remit.
Mr Lamb said that Council Members had been assured that they would be able to discuss this matter; no indication had been given when the earlier Cabinet recommendation had been taken that this would take the policy decision away from the Council and make it the perogative of Cabinet.
RESOLVED that as there were a number of outstanding contractual issues which required further consideration, the recommendation and contract terms be referred to the next meeting of the Cabinet for decision.
Mr Gilbert and Mr Lamb voted against the recommendation.
Confirmed minutes of the meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 15 December 2008.
RESOLVED that the confirmed minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 15 December 2008 be adopted.
Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 5 January 2009.
RESOLVED that the now confirmed minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 5 January 2009 be adopted.
Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the General Purposes Committee held on 7January 2009.
RESOLVED that the unconfirmed minutes of the General Purposes Committee meeting held on 7 January 2009 be adopted.
Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 13 January 2009.
Mrs Jenkins, Chairman of the Standards Committee was in attendance to present the minutes.
RESOLVED that the unconfirmed minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 13 January 2009 be adopted.
Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting held on 9 January 2009.
(a) Draft Treasury Management Policy & Strategy (Minute No 6/09)
A Member questioned whether Butlers were advisers or observers and was told that they were paid to offer advice to the Council.
(b) Appointment of Independent Persons (Minute No 7/09)
(1) the constitution of the Audit Committee be increased by one to six members; and
(2) Mr D Myers be appointed as the additional member of the Audit Committee, with Mrs L Monument and Mr R Duffield as substitute members.
RESOLVED that the unconfirmed minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 9 January 2009 be adopted.
NOMINATIONS FOR COMMITTEE AND OTHER SEATS (Agenda Item 13)
To receive nominations for any changes to Committee and other seats from political groups.
There were none.