Venue: Virtual meeting via Zoom
Contact: Democratic Services Tel: 01362 656870
Outgoing Chairman's Opening Remarks
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the Annual meeting of the Council.
Following the roll call, a short résumé had been prepared in her role as Chairman of the Council for the past two years.
When elected as Chairman in 2019, she had been very honoured and had looked forward to her one year of civic events. 2019/2020 had been a busy and exciting year and she had taken every opportunity to raise the profile of Breckland Council across the County and beyond.
When the pandemic hit, nothing was taken for granted anymore. Everyone had to react in ways that could never have been anticipated, and when she agreed to continue as Chairman for a second year it could not have been more different than the first. Events were still being attended via Zoom but that had its advantages - there was no travelling involved, no parking spaces had to be found and there was no need to dress to impress. However, she missed the human contact, not being able to meet up with friends and colleagues in Breckland’s local networks. Chairing Full Council meetings via Zoom had been an art in itself and the pandemic had brought sorrow to all. She had written 16 letters of condolence to the families of past councillors, work colleagues and friends of Breckland Council.
The Day of Reflection had been a poignant milestone as had been the sad death of the Duke of Edinburgh. She felt that there was a pattern to life, 10 years ago on the 29 April, a Royal Wedding had taken place, local elections were on-going and sadly her father passed away. Now 10 years on today, 29 April 2021, a Royal Funeral had taken place, Elections were on-going, and it was now the anniversary of her father’s death – clearly a pattern.
Without the support of the Vice-Chairman, Cllr Roy Brame and his wife Karen she would have found it difficult to get through these past two years and thanked them both sincerely. She also paid a huge thanks to the team of officers behind the scenes, supporting and encouraging and advising her throughout. To Kathryn, Teresa and Julie in the Democratic Services Team and to the ‘legal eagle’ Mark Stinson. All had watched her back and had enabled her to do her job to the best of her ability and individual letters had been sent to those Officers to thank them.
She had enjoyed her 2 years all for very different reasons and she wished her successor all the very best for their year ahead.
Election of Chairman (Agenda item 1)
a) To elect the Chairman of the Council for the ensuing year.
b) The newly elected Chairman to sign the required Declaration of Acceptance of Office (when able to do so).
Nominations were invited.
After being duly proposed and seconded and with no other nominations being made it was RESOLVED that Councillor Roy Brame be elected Chairman of the Council for the ensuing year.
Councillor Brame in the Chair.
The Chairman, Councillor Roy Brame in the Chair
Councillor Brame, the newly elected Chairman said that it was an honour to take on this position and he hoped that he could follow in the footsteps of the previous Chairman – a very hard act to follow.
He promised Members that he was going to promote Breckland as a District as a wonderful place to live and he would be promoting Breckland Council as being a very forward thinking and outstanding District Council.
He also took the opportunity to mention that he and Councillor Turner had been the first double act to continue as Chair and Vice-Chair for two years, the first time in Breckland’s history.
He felt that it took a special kind of person to be Chairman for one year meeting so many different people and being the face of the Council. Councillor Turner had attended countless events and he felt that she had been an inspiration and had no hesitation when asked if she would continue as Chairman for a further year. She had moved into the virtual world with sheer professionalism since the pandemic and had been a great support to everyone and on behalf of the Council he thanked Councillor Turner for doing such a grand job over the past two years.
The Leader of the Council was the first to congratulate the new Chairman on his new appointment.
The Leader also thanked Councillor Turner for her professionalism and for her fortitude over the last two years, and for her sense of complete commitment from start to finish. She had championed domestic violence and had raised awareness across the District and in turn Breckland had stood ready with its commitment of £1m for its vulnerable programmes. Through her stewardship of the older peoples’ forum, continuously looking out for Breckland’s communities especially for those who did not necessarily have a strong voice. When the pandemic hit everyone was in a state of flux across the whole of the country as to what was going to happen in respect of democracy for local authorities. Councillor Turner had without hesitation stepped up to the challenge and had been prepared to stand for another year and move the Council into the new world and into the next phase of chairing Council meetings and ‘attending’ events on-line. Using the technology and the support of Officers and through her patience and caring attitude to everyone across the Council she had performed seamlessly and had allowed democracy, through her stewardship, to continue within Breckland and as Breckland moved into the next phase she had certainly left a lasting legacy.
The Chairman concurred with the Leader’s comments.
Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Opposition congratulated Councillor Brame on his appointment and he hoped that he would have a successful and fulfilling year. He thanked Councillor Turner on behalf of the Labour Group for her hard work and dedication to the role over the last two years. For many residents she had been a constant and a very reassuring presence giving everyone the confidence that the Council was still operating, particularly through her use on social media and video updates. He was going to wish Councillor Turner well for having a little less to do but he knew that no doubt she would quickly fill that void with the many other passions that she was involved in; not least for the support of the older residents across Breckland.
Councillor Hewett, the Executive Member for Contracts & Assets and Councillor Turner’s fellow Ward Member also congratulated Councillor Brame on being elected as Chairman of the Council for the ensuing year. He was conscious that most of the words that he had prepared had already been echoed. One year ago, he had been privileged to nominate Councillor Turner as Chairman of the Council for an exceptional second year on the grounds that everyone was heading into uncertain times. A year on, everyone had seen and felt the impact of this pandemic; however, in an unprecedented year that had fundamentally changed the way Members worked, there had always been one constant and that was Councillor Turner. A friend and a confidant to all and a Chairman with sheer determination that embodied a true spirit of this Council and colleagues. He felt that it had been a privilege to work with her and thanked her for her dedication and commitment.
Councillor Webb, the Executive Member for Health & Housing also congratulated Councillor Brame. She also thanked Councillor Turner for her support in a number of areas that had historically caused problems. The last two years had been very challenging, but she felt that Councillor Turner had done an amazing job, having meetings via Zoom and Teams, achieved excellent work with the Daisy Charity and had raised a great deal of money as well as awareness and had brought a great deal of value to that charity. She thanked Councillor Turner for all the help and support she had provided to Members and to the public during these very critical times.
Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Environmental Services & Public Protection also paid thanks to Councillor Turner. It had been two amazing years, the last one being a very difficult year and he appreciated the work that she had done. He also congratulated Councillor Brame in his role as the former Vice-Chairman.
Councillor Kiddell congratulated Councillor Brame and his wife Karen who both would be having another very busy year. On behalf of the new Councillors elected in 2019, she thanked Councillor Turner for making them all feel very welcome in their new roles. Councillor Turner had always been a friendly person to talk too always at the end of the phone and above all else she felt that the work that she had done for carers had been exemplary.
Councillor Robinson, the Executive Member for Community, Leisure & Culture also congratulated Councillor Brame on becoming Chairman and looked forward to the year ahead with confidence and continuing Councillor Turner’s sterling service. He had known Councillor Turner for nearly a decade and during that time he had found her to be very engaging, had offered sound advice and was always open to comment. He wished her a well-earned short break before throwing herself into her next endeavour.
Councillor Turner thanked everyone for their kind words.
Appointment of Vice-Chairman (Agenda item 2)
a) To appoint the Vice-Chairman of the Council for the ensuing year.
b) The newly appointed Vice-Chairman to sign the required Declaration of Acceptance of Office (when able to do so).
Nominations were invited.
Councillor Ian Sherwood took this opportunity to congratulate the Chairman and his consort for the year ahead.
He then proposed Councillor Nairn as Vice-Chairman.
Councillor Nairn had served in Her Majesty’s Forces for six years and then was a member of the Norfolk Constabulary for 29 years covering West Norfolk, including Thetford, Weeting, Mundford and Watton. He knew the Breckland area exceptionally well and served as the local Councillor for Bedingfeld Ward. He was first elected as a Breckland Councillor in a by-Election in 2012 representing the former Forest Ward and had served his residents for the last 9 years and was sure he would make an excellent Vice-Chairman.
Councillor Wilkinson also congratulated Councillor Brame on his new role as Chairman and also thanked Councillor Turner for her excellent chairmanship these past two years.
Councillor Wilkinson seconded the proposal.
After being duly proposed and seconded and with no other nominations being made it was RESOLVED that Councillor Mike Nairn be appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Council for the ensuing year.
The Chairman congratulated Councillor Nairn on his appointment as Vice-Chairman of the Council.
The Vice-Chairman thanked everyone for their support, and he hoped that he would live up to and surpass his predecessor’s reputation in what had been a turbulent second year. He looked forward to representing the best of Breckland in the future and supporting Councillor Brame, the Chairman of the Council.
Apologies (Agenda item 3)
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Carter, Eagle, Kiddle-Morris and Ian Martin.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 8 April 2021.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 April 2021 were agreed as a correct record.
Declaration of Interests (Agenda item 5)
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.
The Chairman said that he was looking forward to the ‘new normal’ and announced that following the recent High Court Hearing, face to face meetings would eventually return although Covid restrictions in terms of social distancing etc must be followed. It would be the responsibility of all Councillors to lead Breckland in a safe manner whilst looking after its residents and hopefully, Breckland would be seen as a Council that did take note of Government Policy and the medical world and at the end of this year had set a precedent for others to follow.
He was aware at this point, that the Chairman would normally announce the charity he would be supporting. However, both he and his wife had put a great deal of thought into this matter and felt that mental health was an important issue to tackle. Breckland Council was already supporting community inclusion and therefore, instead of a charity, he was going to have a Chairman’s project and would also be supporting community inclusion. He was not aware of how the mental health of the youngsters was going to be affected by this pandemic but felt it would help by promoting these issues. He hoped to get involved with the military in Breckland as he believed that they could provide assistance for various events for young people who had lost their special time in life. All Members could remember taking exams and going to University and passing from childhood to adulthood and he believed that this pandemic had taken that away from young people of a certain age. Therefore, he would be raising money, and raising awareness for community inclusion whilst also being supportive of Breckland Council.
Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 7)
To receive a verbal update from Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of the Council.
The Leader made the following announcements:
2020-2021 had been a period dominated by the international pandemic. It had and continued to have an impact on people’s lives around the world, and Breckland had been no exception. Those lives that had been lost and those who had worked and volunteered tirelessly to support and protect us all must never be forgotten.
This was a situation that no-one wanted to find themselves in but he had been very proud of this council and how members and officers had tackled this challenge.
Throughout the pandemic, the Council’s top priorities, had been clear and unwavering protecting the lives and livelihoods of its residents.
Breckland Council had coordinated a massive relief effort over the last year to help individuals who had been impacted by the pandemic.
This had included releasing almost £20,000 in grants to individuals facing the greatest financial hardship, delivering 200 food parcels to people self-isolating or unable to do their own food shopping, providing significant funding to local foodbanks, and carrying out in excess of 3,000 welfare calls to check-in with some of Breckland’s most vulnerable residents during their times of greatest need.
The newly recruited team of Covid Support Officers had been working across the District to provide a reassuring presence, providing advice, and investigating reports of any instances when safety guidance may not have been followed.
Most recently, a Covid Safe Scheme had been launched, that recognised businesses in the District that had put in place measures and working practices to help protect their staff and customers from coronavirus.
Officers had been inspecting Breckland businesses to assess their anti-covid measures, including the provision of protective equipment such as screens and masks, hand sanitiser for staff and customers, and opportunities to maintain social distancing.
The Leader was delighted to announce that the first set of businesses had now been assessed and issued their covid stickers, and he thanked these businesses, and all those across the district who had worked so hard to keep people safe during these challenging times.
The pandemic had hit local businesses hard, and in response the Council had now distributed around £50m in local and national grant funding to help them weather the storm.
This council had also put significant resource, time and effort into helping business-owners navigate the emerging legislation and supporting them to make changes to operate safely, protect customers, protect their staff, and protect local jobs.
£2m had been set aside to help businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Spring Back support included:
· A Shop Front Improvement Scheme to help pay for a lick of paint or to completely replace a shopfront to make local shops more attractive.
· Grants worth up to £5k to help businesses invest in equipment to enable them to trade safely, from extra protective equipment and screens to a marquee or outdoor seating to support social distancing.
· Money and training to help business trade digitally, including new payment systems, websites and online ... view the full minutes text for item 56/21
Questions on Notice under Standing Order No 6 (Agenda item 8)
Questions without Notice under Standing Order No 7 (Agenda item 9)
Councillor Jermy directed his question to Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Environmental Services & Public Protection. He referred to one of the last meetings pre-Covid where a significant decision had been reached in respect of the new Grounds Maintenance Contract for Serco.
He recalled that in the Cabinet and the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meetings and indeed the Full Council meeting which all took place on the same day, all Members were reassured that the service provided would be improved, specifically the shredding of litter by Serco grasscutters would end. However, rather than any improvements being made, the situation had worsened and recently it was not the usual cans and glass that were being merrily mowed and torn to shreds but facemasks and two dead pigeons near to a local school. He asked the Executive Member what he would be doing to enforce the rules within the Serco contract to stop and prevent the shredding of litter from occurring.
Councillor Bambridge stated that this was the first that he had heard of this issue, and asked Councillor Jermy if he could send him an email explaining where these incidences were occurring, and he would follow this up and subsequent action would be taken.
Councillor Birt congratulated the Chairman on his appointment. He had two questions to ask, the first of which was directed to the Leader. He referred to page 9 of the agenda pack, a previous question that he had asked of the Leader and the information that should have been forthcoming that had still not been received. He asked the Leader when he could expect this information in respect of the value of the New Homes Bonus.
The other matter relating to documents that he had previously requested had also not been received. Two responses from Legal Services dated 8 April stated that they would speak to a Director about getting access to these documents but again these had not transpired. Councillor Birt also mentioned a quote in the Constitution which was at variance with the Legal Framework. He could only assume that he was being unlawfully denied access and asked if the Monitoring Officer should be involved with this.
The Leader assured Councillor Birt that he had sent an email on 5 March in response to his question about the New Homes Bonus and if this email had not been received this matter should be taken up with the IT department. Regarding the documentation that was being requested, he would take that away as an action from this meeting but pointed out that no Member was ever prevented from receiving information requested via their Breckland IT equipment and their Breckland email address.
Councillor Colman asked Councillor Hewett, the Executive Member for Contracts & Assets for an update on the sale of the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham.
Councillor Hewett said that he could at some extent without revealing any private & confidential information. Members were informed that just last week the Council had agreed and finalised terms with the bidding ... view the full minutes text for item 58/21
Committee Minutes (for information only) (Agenda item 10)
To note the following Committee Minutes:
To note the unconfirmed Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 12 April 2021.
The Minutes of the Planning Committee meeting held on 12 April 2021 were noted.
Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director of Strategy & Governance.
(the appendix to this report shows the current membership and could be subject to change)
Maxine O’Mahony, the Executive Director for Governance congratulated Councillor Brame on his appointment and wished him all the best for his term in office this year.
In accordance with the Constitution, the report sought Members’ agreement to approve the annual appointments of Councillors to Committees and to appoint the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen for the ensuing year.
Councillor Claussen the Deputy Leader nominated the following Conservative Members to the new Shared Memorandum of Agreement Committee. The nominations were duly seconded.
Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen (Con)
Councillor Paul Claussen (Con)
Councillor Sarah Suggitt (Con) (sub)
Councillor Ian Sherwood (Con (sub)
Councillor Jermy, the Leader of the Labour Group nominated the following Labour Members to the new Shared Memorandum of Agreement Committee. All other Committee seats would remain the same.
Councillor Jermy (Lab)
Councillor Clarke (Lab) (sub)
Councillor Birt was content with the appointments to the various Committee as obviously this was just a procedural matter, but the recommendations came in two forms and asked if the recommendations could be taken separately as although he was content as to who had been appointed, he was less happy about the appointment of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen for all of the Committees. He felt that perhaps this could be an aspect that had not been discussed previously and therefore did not support the second recommendation.
The Chairman explained that as far as he was aware the Constitution stated that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of all Committees were either appointed by the Leader or each Committee could vote for their own.
Councillor Atterwill was happy to confirm that the Independent Members nominated for Committees still stood as per the report. He also asked that when the vote was taken would Members be voting on a ‘Committee by Committee’ basis as it could be that most were happy with the makeup of some Committees and not others. With this in mind, he felt that Members should be able to vote accordingly and asked for advice from the Monitoring Officer, Maxine O’Mahony.
The Chairman agreed to this request as in his opinion this was just about recommending that the Committees have Chairman and Vice-Chairmen.
The Executive Director for Strategy & Governance and Monitoring Officer advised that the recommendations should be taken enbloc as each Committee was able to make their own decisions going forward. Members were asked to vote for the changes or against them.
The recommendations were then taken enbloc as advised but any Member who wished to vote against a particular Committee were asked to indicate as such.
RESOLVED that, subject to the above appointments:
1. the Council appoints for 2021-2022 the Committees and Panels as set out in Appendix A of the report; and
2. the Council approves the re-appointment of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of those Committees and Panels as set out in Appendix A of the report.
Councillors Birt, Jermy, Morton, Atterwill, Clarke and Gilbert voted against the first recommendation in respect of the composition of the Local Plan Working Group but agreed all other appointments. ... view the full minutes text for item 60/21
Report of Maxine O’Mahony, Executive Director of Strategy & Governance.
(the appendix to this report shows the current membership and could be subject to change)
The Executive Director for Governance presented the annual report.
Councillor Birt had a query on item 6.1.1 of the report. He was very pleased that the Council was now looking at these carbon footprint implications and quoted the said paragraph but was slightly concerned that it stated that travelling to these Outside Body meetings would have an impact on the ‘individual’s’ carbon footprint and not the ‘Council’s’ footprint. Being that these were official appointments, and these Members were acting on behalf of the Council he felt that the impact should also be on the Council’s carbon footprint.
The Executive Director for Governance was sure that the wording could be amended to accommodate Councillor Birt’s request.
Sarah Wolstenholme-Smy, the Council’s Legal Advisor agreed.
Councillor Ian Sherwood said that he would be happy to take this matter away for further consideration.
It was proposed and seconded that the following wording be added to paragraph 6.1.1:
Councillors are expected to travel to meetings of outside bodies, which can have an impact on the Council’s carbon footprint and the individual’s carbon footprint.
Subject to the above amendment, it was:
RESOLVED that the representatives on the list of Outside Bodies be appointed.
Councillor Monument abstained from voting on this matter.
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.
The Chairman thanked everyone for their support.