Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham
Contact: Committee Services Tel: 01362 656870
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Mr P Duigan, Lady K Fisher, Mr P Francis, Mr R Goreham, Mr J Gretton, Mr T Lamb, Mrs K Millbank, Mrs P Quadling, Mr J Rogers, Mr M Spencer and Mrs P Spencer.
Declaration of Interest
Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests pertinent to items on this agenda.
The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is personal or prejudicial.
Mrs A Steward declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 5 (Thetford Enterprise Park), by virtue of being Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development.
Chairman's Announcements (if any)
The Chairman told Members that the Joint Scrutiny briefing on Shared Services, arranged for 20 January 2010, had been postponed as the external consultants were not able to attend. A new date for the briefing was being arranged and Members would be notified as soon as possible.
She also advised Members that the new ‘Member’s Room’ would be available for use from Monday 18 January 2010.
Report of the Chief Executive.
The Director for Governance and Finance presented the report which considered the concept of Breckland and South Norfolk District Councils sharing services.
Local Authorities were facing challenging financial times, and identifying and implementing opportunities for more efficient and effective working was critical in maintaining and improving services. This was one way in which the Council was looking at generating substantial savings.
A successful bid had been made to the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (RIEP) and £90,000 funding had been awarded. This amount would be Match Funded by Breckland and South Norfolk each contributing £45,000 in officer time.
External consultants and lead officers had been identified and progress would be reported back to Members through Joint Overview and Scrutiny Commission meetings.
These proposals were not for an exclusive arrangement and the Council would continue to seek other opportunities to improve on efficiency and effectiveness.
The Member Services Manager then read out a written response from the Labour Group which ‘cautiously welcomed’ the proposal and requested consideration of the following points:
1. Periodic reviews by the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Commission during the process;
2. A “cap” of £135,000 on money spent on investigation, and the use of Breckland’s Officers in the research as far as is practical;
3. Assurances from Leader and Cabinet that frontline public services would be maintained and upheld to the highest standards; and
4. Full consultation with, and briefing of staff, throughout the process.
The Deputy Leader agreed with much that the Labour Group had said and added that an additional criteria should be the need for a broad cross-section of support from stakeholders and partners.
A Member pointed out that the big difference between shared services and the Unitary proposal was that shared services provided democratic representation which the Council was in favour of.
The Leader of the Council responded to the Labour Group’s statement by saying that Scrutiny would be involved; quality service would be upheld; and that only £90,000 was proposed to be spent.
He said that the principles were clearly set out at point 4.2 of the report and would result in the Council doing more with less and providing staff with greater opportunities due to the increased size of the organisation.
(1) Endorse the overall approach for identifying more efficient and effective ways of working;
(2) Commit resources, as detailed at paragraph 4.4 of the report, to explore and develop a single paid service of Officers providing services to two distinct political organisations;
(3) Adjust budgets to reflect any funding offered from the RIEP and to recognise South Norfolk as the accountable body for the funding; and
(4) Approve the appointment of external consultants to deliver phase 1, subject to the proper procurement processes.
Joint Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Asset Management.
This report brought finalised proposals to proceed with the Thetford Enterprise Park project back for Council approval. The Head of Asset Management presented the report in detail.
The Chairman noted that the appendices to the report were below the line and contained financial information. She asked Members to restrict any questions to the information contained in the report at this stage and if they had any questions with regard to the appendices a resolution would need to be passed to exclude the press and public.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission said this was a very encouraging paper and gave the Council a huge opportunity to do interesting and beneficial things for both Breckland and Norfolk. He said this was a gateway site and there was a need to be mindful of the design of the buildings on site to ensure that the proposal improved the quality of the built environment and the lives of residents. He commended the proposal as a very good thing.
A local Member was delighted at the business opportunities and jobs that would be created. The proposal would play a major part in providing future prosperity and she asked Members to support it.
Another local Member also welcomed the proposal which he said had taken a number of years to reach fruition.
A Member said that it was crucial that industry came first as this would provide the infrastructure that would support the work of Moving Thetford Forward. A former Executive Member said that she had been involved with this project for a long time. She fully supported it and agreed that it would unlock and compliment the work of Moving Thetford Forward and the plans for the dualling of the A11.
A question was asked about the mix of uses on the site and it was clarified that the building closest to the roundabout would be a hotel and that there would be a mix of offices, general industrial and storage and warehousing on the site.
A Dereham Member was concerned at the amount of money being spent on Thetford and asked if there was any industrial future for Dereham?
A Member responded by saying that this project was part of a bigger vision for Breckland originating in 1999. He was delighted it had come forward and he moved the recommendation, which was then seconded.
There were no questions with regard to the appendices.
(1) agree to proceed with the project as per the Funding Agreement between Breckland Council and EEDA and the Collaboration Agreement between Breckland Council and The Crown Estate, which entailed:
(a) approving the additional funding of £903,800 to enable a total budge of £2,909,800;
(b) authorising the signing of the Collaboration Agreement with The Crown Estate;
(c) authorising the signing of the EEDA Funding Agreement and acceptance of EEDA funding of £1.5million to be used directly on the project;
(d) agreeing to cash flow the project as detailed in the Proforma B; and
(e) contribution ... view the full minutes text for item 5.