Agenda and minutes

Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

10.

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2014.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2014 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

11.

Apologies (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Byrne, Canham, Childerhouse, Clark, Goreham, Joel, Kybird, Lamb, Millbank, Turner and Williams.

 

12.

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda Item 3)

Engagements List – Chairman

 

23 January 2014 to 26 February 2014

 

Date

Event

Host

27 January 2014

Holocaust Day Memorial Service

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Keith Driver and Norfolk & Norwich Branch of the Council of Christians and Jews

7 February 2014

Viewing of construction progress on the site of the new Tesco supermarket at Swaffham

Millngate Developers

10 February 2014

Presentation of the Commonwealth Flag

Chairman of Norfolk County Council, Councillor Mrs. Hilary Cox

14 February 2014

Ceremonial Opening of the King’s Lynn Mart and buffet reception

Mayor of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, Councillor Elizabeth Watson and Chairman of the Showmen’s Guild Eastern Section, Mr. John Thurston

15 February 2014

Charity Valentine’s Evening

Mayor of Dereham,
Councillor Kate Millbank

24 February 2014

Mayor’s Indian Charity Dinner

The Mayor of St. Edmundsbury, Councillor Terry Buckle

 

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that the Agenda order would be changed and Item 7b would be taken before Item 6.

 

13.

Constitution - Amendment to Standing Orders (Agenda Item 5) pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Democratic Services.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director for Democratic Services advised that changes to legislation meant that Councils were now required to take a recorded vote on key budget decisions.  After further consultation she asked for an amended recommendation to be considered.  The new wording was read out for Members.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)               That in accordance with the change in legislation and in view of the deadline, to suspend Standing Order 54 so that the following change could take immediate effect; and

(2)               To add the following paragraph to Standing Order 14:

 

‘6.        At any budget decision meeting of the Council where the Council makes a decision related to the making of a calculation or the issuing of the precept, a recorded vote must be taken – that is recording in the Minutes of the meeting how each Member present voted on any decision.’

 

14.

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 19 February 2014 (Agenda Item 7b)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(a)       Budget, Financial Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy (Minute No 26/14)

 

The Leader of the Labour Group had attended the meeting and was grateful his questions had been answered.  For accuracy he asked for clarification of the 2% increase in Council Tax response.

 

The Executive Member for Communications, Organisational Performance, Development & Public Protection accepted that it was unclear in the Minutes and it was agreed that the Minutes would be amended when they were approved at the next Cabinet meeting.

 

A recorded vote was then taken on the proposals (copy attached).  The two Labour Members present at the meeting abstained from the vote.  All other Members present voted in favour of the recommendations.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)                 the Breckland revenue estimates and parish special expenses for 2014-15 and outline position through to 2018-19 as set out in Appendix B of the report be approved;.

 

2)                 the capital estimates and associated funding for 2014-15 and outline position through to 2018-19  as set out in Appendix H of the report be approved;

 

3)                 the fees and charges shown at Appendix D and D2 of the report for adoption on 1 April 2014 be approved;

 

4)                 the Council Tax for a Band D property in 2014-15 be frozen at £69.03 as set out in Appendix B of the report;

 

5)                 the Financial Medium Term Plan at Appendix A of the report be approved;

 

6)                 the Capital Strategy at Appendix G of the report be approved;

 

7)                 the contribution of £305k in relation to council tax support to town and parish councils be paid; and

 

8)                  relief be awarded to all businesses that fall within Government’s criteria equally and to             delegate the determination of the final scheme guidelines to the Assistant Director Finance in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance and the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services and Quality Assurance following publication of the final scheme by Government.

 

15.

Council Tax Setting 2014/15 (Agenda Item 6)

The Council is asked to pass a formal resolution on the setting of the Council Tax.

 

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services presented the report.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group said that they were disappointed with the budget.  They liked some parts but not others and therefore they would be abstaining from the vote.  He said the budget failed to address some pressing issues and compounded inequalities.

 

The Labour Group had urged the Council to take a more pro-active approach on house building and providing affordable homes for its residents.  The bedroom tax had added to the amount of people in need.  Nearly 3,000 people in receipt of housing benefit in the district were in private rented accommodation.

 

Rather than transferring money received from the New Homes Bonus to the reserves and using the Right to Buy income to subsidise the Council Tax he proposed an amendment to the budget that would see New Homes Bonus money transferred to a reserve specifically designated as a fund that would allow new homes to be built or get existing homes back into use.

 

Councillor Sherwood was pleased to support the budget which was for all residents of the district.  He was shocked that the Labour Group was suggesting that more money should be taken in Council Tax.

 

Councillor Smith thought that the Leader of the Labour Group’s comments were aimed more at the Government.  Increasing Council Tax would increase the inequalities in the District; people were already finding it hard to pay. 

 

The Executive Member for Planning, Building Control and Housing, said there was good news.  The Council had spent over half a million pounds on affordable housing.  It was a difficult time because the economy was not booming and developments were not coming forward but when they did the Council was collecting financial contributions and there was money in the budget to promote affordable housing.

 

The Leader of the Council clarified that the New Homes Bonus was not new money, it was existing Government funding.  Other adjacent Councils, which charged more for Council Tax, used that money differently.  But residents had made it clear that they wanted to keep Council Tax low.

 

Councillor Borrett reiterated that Breckland had the lowest district Council Tax in England, but they did not spend the least because they had income from economic investments.  Due to foresight and planning the Council was able to maintain the low Council Tax within the budget whilst still protecting services and he congratulated the Executive on what they had put forward.

 

The Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services explained that the Council had to rely on the New Homes Bonus and the Business Rates Retention Scheme as the Revenue Support Grant was reducing annually.  The budget was realistic in view of the uncertainty of where future money would come from.  It gave robust reserves whilst protecting frontline services.  The reserves would be used as efficiently as possible.  A lot of hard work had gone into the budget with additional difficulties caused by changes to Government guidelines.  It had been a good decision to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 11 February 2014 (Agenda Item 7a) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Minutes:

a)         Financial Performance Quarter 3 2013-14 (Minute No 20/14)

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(1)               the ICT transformation funding of £385,000 be contributed to the Organisational Development reserve and be spent as proposed in the bid in 2013-14 and 2014-15

(2)               £716,000 be contributed to the Organisational Development reserve for use in future years to allow time for a defined transformation programme; and

(3)               291,000 be moved into the Council Tax and Business Rates Reserve.

 

b)         Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 11 February 2014 be adopted.

17.

Overview and Scrutiny Commission (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 128 KB

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 30 January 2014.

Minutes:

(a)       Quarter 2 and Quarter 3 Performance Reports (Minute No 6/14)

 

Councillor Gilbert reiterated the concerns he had expressed at the meeting about not being given the full information.  He said it was disappointing as Scrutiny could not be effective if it did not have access to all the facts.

 

The Chairman of the Scrutiny Commission agreed and said it had been unfortunate.  However, he was aware that the Performance structure had been reviewed and the report had been the first produced under the new process.  He looked forward to receiving a full report next time

 

(b)       Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 30 January 2014 be adopted.

 

18.

Planning Committee (Agenda Item 9)

Confirmed and Unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on:

 

18/13a

Confirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 20 January 2014 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Minutes:

(a)       Watton: Thetford Road: Erection of 110 Dwellings with Associated Open Space: Applicant: Hopkins Homes: Reference: 3PL/2013/0510/F (Minute No 6/14a)

 

Councillor Gilbert registered his disappointment that this application had been deferred for discussions on road safety issues but when it had returned to the Committee the right turn lane had not been supported.

 

The Chairman of the Planning Committee agreed but explained that the Highways Authority had not supported the need for a right turn lane or for the provision of a roundabout.  The Committee had accepted an extension to the 30mph limit.

 

Councillor North pointed out an inaccuracy in the Minutes (which had been amended at the last Planning Committee meeting).  She had not seconded the proposal and had voted against it.

 

(b)       Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the now confirmed and amended Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 20 January 2014 be adopted.

 

18/13b

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 17 February 2014

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(1)       Declaration of Interest and of Representations Received (Minute No 15/14)

 

Councillor Duigan noted that the direct representation which he had received regarding Schedule Item 4 (Dereham) had come from a supporter, not the applicant.

 

Councillor North advised that she had not passed on the information she had received regarding Schedule Item 2 (Attleborough).

 

(2)       Chairman’s Announcements (Minute No 16/14)

 

The Chairman explained the background to the mobile phone incident and advised Members that a representative from the local press would be attending the next Planning Committee, with a guitar!

 

(3)       Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 17 February 2014 be adopted.

 

19.

Audit Committee (Agenda Item 10)

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 14 February 2014.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that Councillor Cowen had also been present at the meeting.

 

(1)       Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2014/15 (Minute No 11/14)

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)           the Treasury Management Strategy 2014-15 to 2016-17 as at Appendix A of the report be approved;

 

2)           the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) statement contained within Appendix A of the report which sets out the Council’s policy on MRP be approved;

 

3)           the Prudential Indicators and limits contained within Appendix A of the report be approved;

 

4)           the Investment Strategy 2014-15 as at Appendix B of the report and the detailed criteria included in Appendix B1 of the report be approved; and

 

5)           the Treasury Management Policy at Appendix B2 of the report be approved.

 

(2)       Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Audit Committee meeting held on 14 February 2014 be adopted.

 

20.

Local Government Boundary Commission Breckland Electoral Review (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Please find attached Breckland Council’s response to the Boundary Commission’s recommendations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services presented the response proposed by the Boundary Review Working Group with included a summary of representations received from all Members.

 

Councillor Cowen noted that Members and Officers had put a huge amount of effort into reshaping the District and it was disappointing that the Boundary Commission disagreed with Members and local residents.  People were irritated that Localism, local democracy and local views were being ignored by Members.

 

RESOLVED that the Council’s response to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England’s draft recommendations be submitted.

 

21.

Remuneration Panel Report (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Report of the Assistant Director of Democratic Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director for Democratic Services presented the report from the Independent Remuneration Panel and advised Members that they were required to have regard to the advice it gave.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group was grateful that he had been invited to give his opinion to the Panel.  He was disappointed that the report offered no justification of why the Special Responsibility Allowances for the Authority were grossly disproportionate to other areas.  He also noted that the Council was moving forward with Performance Related Pay for staff and he floated the idea that it would be a fairer system if Councillors received a basic allowance and then a payment for each meeting they attended up to a capped amount.

 

Councillor Gilbert disagreed with that proposal as Members could attend meetings just to increase their allowance, without actually contributing to the meetings.

 

Mr Vargeson, a member of the Panel was in attendance on behalf of the Panel’s Chairman who could not be present.  He thanked the Members that had attended the Panel for providing background information which had helped them to reach their conclusion.  With regard to the Special Responsibility Allowance he advised that the bar had been set high a long time ago and most other Local Authorities had caught up with Breckland.  Performance Related Pay was not within the remit of the Panel and they could not pay an attendance allowance.  He concluded by advising that a new set of members would make up the Panel the following year.

 

RESOLVED that the Basic Allowance and Special Responsibility Allowances for 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 remain unchanged.

 

22.

Appointment of Chief Executive (Agenda Item 13)

Report of the Assistant Director of Democratic Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director for Democratic Services presented the report and the Minutes of the Joint Appointments Committee which recommended the appointment of Anna Graves as Joint Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service for Breckland and South Holland District Councils.  The recommendations had been agreed by South Holland Council the previous day.

 

The Leader of the Council expressed his thanks to the outgoing Interim Chief Executive Geoff Rivers.  It had not been an easy job and he thanked him for his support.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group seconded that.  He had been privileged to be part of the Joint Appointments Committee and he said that the interview process had been incredibly gruelling with a number of good applicants.

 

With regard to point three of the recommendation he asked why Mr Rivers was not being retained until Anna Graves was in post.  He was concerned that it was very destabilising to have another interim Chief Executive.

 

Mr Rivers advised that it was a private matter which he was happy to explain outside of the meeting.

 

The Chairman also thanked Mr Rivers for his guidance at Council meetings.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1.   Pursuant to the recommendation of the Joint Appointments Panel on 18 February 2014:

 

     a)       Anna Graves be engaged, full time as the Chief Executive of Breckland Council in a joint appointment with South Holland District Council;

 

     b)       the appointment of Anna Graves in (a) above is effective from 21 April 2014 or at a earlier date as agreed with the Leaders of Breckland Council and South Holland District Council, if this can be accommodated by their current employers;

 

     c)       Anna Graves also be appointed Head of Paid Service of Breckland Council  in a joint appointment with South Holland District Council effective from 21 April 2014.

 

2.   The contract for Geoff Rivers not be renewed beyond the current end date of 3 March 2014 and therefore on that date he ceases appointment as Interim Chief Executive and Head of Paid Services.

 

3.      Terry Huggins be engaged in a consultative role and appointed as Head of Paid Service with effect from 4 March 2014 and until such time as the permanent Chief Executive and Head of Paid Services commences employment (as detailed in 1. b) above). That the terms of contract with Mr Terry Huggins be delegated to the Leaders of Breckland Council and South Holland District Council. This role to be a temporary position to support in the handover period.

 

23.

Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda Item 14)

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

 

  • Hamond’s Educational Charity

 

To reduce the number of Outside Body appointments from three to two.  The current Members are Councillors P Darby, S Matthews and F Sharpe.

 

  • Norfolk Waste Partnership Board

 

To appoint Councillor Lynda Turner to the Norfolk Waste Partnership Board

 

  • Health & Wellbeing Board (new Outside Body Appointment)

 

To appoint Councillor Lynda Turner to the Health & Wellbeing Board

 

 

Minutes:

The Senior Committee Officer advised that the appointments to Hamond’s Educational Charity would not be reduced until after the Trustee Board meeting in March.  Any change would be reported to the next Council meeting.

 

She also advised that the Anglia Revenues Partnership (ARP) Joint Committee was now an Executive Committee and therefore future appointments to that Committee would be made by the Leader of the Council.  In view of that change, Councillor Duigan had been replaced by Councillor Gould as a Substitute Member.

 

24.

Charter Plus presentation (Agenda Item 15)

Presentation by the Member Trainer, Leanne Neave.

Minutes:

The Member Trainer was delighted to welcome Councillor Jackson to the meeting.  He had come to present the Council’s Charter Plus award.  Before handing over to Councillor Jackson she gave a brief recap of the Council’s journey in Member Development.

 

The Council had received an initial ‘un-rateable’ assessment in 2006 with regard to the training and development of Members.  In response to that the Member Development Panel had been formed, a specific budget allocated and a dedicated Member Training team set up.  Within two years the Council had achieved Charter status and two years after that Charter Plus status had been gained.  In November 2013 the Council had been reassessed and had once again be awarded Charter Plus status.

 

The Chairman congratulated the Member Trainer on her development as an Officer.  The re-assessment had been a rigorous process and it was always harder to maintain standards.  Well done to Officers and Members.  The next stage would be for the Member Development Panel to achieve formal Committee status and for its Minutes to be reported direct to Council.  He then introduced Councillor Tony Jackson, Leader of East Hertfordshire District Council and Chairman of the East of England Local Government Association.

 

Councillor Jackson said that when the Team had visited for the assessment the Council had demonstrated a strong commitment to Member Development. It had been one of the best assessments he had undertaken.  Standards had been met and exceeded.  A particular strength was that the Member Development strategy was supported and endorsed by the Cabinet.  There was also an effective relationship with the Town & Parish Councils. 

 

He congratulated the Council and then presented the Charter Plus Award to the Chairman of the Member Development Panel, Councillor Trevor Carter and the Certificate to Leanne Neave, Member Trainer.

 

25.

Digital Norfolk Ambition (Agenda Item 16)

Presentation by Norfolk County Council.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Corporate Services and Quality Assurance introduced Mr Tom Baker, Head of ICT & Information Technology at Norfolk County Council, who was present to give a PowerPoint presentation on Digital Norfolk Ambition which was a project aimed at improving access to services for the public.

 

Mr Baker had only been in post for 14 months and he had been surprised to find that technology was already being used in innovative ways in Norfolk.  Norfolk schools used a locally created Cloud Portal which gave them access to on-line educational information.  

 

It would be critically important in the future for agencies to be able to work together through interoperability – allowing multi-agency access to information.  Norfolk was leading the way and already had well developed relationships and the sharing of services.

 

With regard to internal IT, there was a need to innovate and work together to provide information and data in fundamental building blocks.  That would require a different way of doing things and also the replacement of old devices to provide access to collaborative tools, such as video conferencing from laptops.

 

When linking information it was important to adhere to data protection requirements.  Security was being procured from Hewlett Packard which provided world class solutions.   They were working with the UEA on a funding bid for £10million (to be matched twice) to create a research institute.

 

Norfolk was well placed in building for the future, with foundations already in place to link systems and safeguard against future changes.  Devices were being trialled at Breckland and South Holland and in future the combined buying power would be exploited.

 

There was an opportunity for all to use the same platform to manage, link and re-use information.  To provide for these improvements the servers were being moved out of County Hall into a Data Centre in Norwich.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Baker for his presentation.  He had been present at the launch of Norfolk Ambition which he said deserved credit for its vision.  He hoped that Breckland Council could be a lead District partner.