Agenda and minutes

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

No. Item


Minutes (Agenda Item 1)

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held 17 May 2007.


The Minutes of the Annual Meeting held on 17 May 2007 were confirmed 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 S Bambridge, Mr W Borrett, Mr A Byrne, Mr R Childerhouse, Mrs T Hewett, Mr P Hewett, Mrs K Millbank and Mr I Monson.



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 were made:


Mr P Cowen declared a personal interest in Overview and Scrutiny Commission Minute No. 57/07 by virtue of his architectural profession.  He also declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Development Control Committee Minute No. 83/07(b) for the reason that his practice was currently acting for the neighbours (as objectors) of the development.


Lady K Fisher declared a personal interest in Cabinet Minute No. 68/07 the nature of which related to the ownership of land in the Thetford area.


Mr A Stasiak declared a prejudicial interest in Development Control Committee Minute No. 83/07(c) as it was his own application and a personal interest in Standards Committee Minute No. 17/07.


Messrs W Smith and P Claussen declared personal interests in Cabinet Minute Nos. 58/07 and 79/07 of the meetings held on 14 May and 18 June 2007 respectively as non-executive directors of the ARP.  Mr Smith and Mr Claussen, together with Mr S Knights, left the room whilst this item was being discussed.


Mr J Labouchere declared a prejudicial interest in Development Control Committee Minute No. 98/07(f) as it was his own application.



Chairman's Announcements (Agenda Item 4)

(including the engagements of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman)


The Chairman announced that the Council meeting on 6 December 2007 would now take place in the afternoon at 2.30pm. After the meeting, Members, and Officers connected with Full Council, and their partners would be invited to attend a Christmas party which would be followed by an Auction of Promises (all proceeds raised would be in aid of the Quidenham Children’s Hospice). Visits to the hospice could be arranged, later in the year, if Members so wished.


On behalf of the Monitoring Officer, the Chairman also announced that 15 Members had yet to submit their Register of Interest forms and advised that it was a breach of the Code not to complete them.


A list of engagements attended by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman was tabled, for the period 17 May to 25 June 2007, which included:








18 May

UEA Court 2007

University of East Anglia


20 May

Service for Voluntary Organisations in Norfolk

Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Newson

22 May

Mayor Making

Lord Mayor Designate Councillor Roy Blower and Lady Mayoress Beryl Blower, Sheriff Designate Nick Williams and Sheriff’s Lady Gill Wilson


5 June

Change of Command Ceremony

Lieutenant General Robert D Bishop, JR, Commander Third

Air Force


9 June

Annual Review of 2006

Carol Bundock, County President Girlguiding Norfolk


10 June

Mayor’s Civic Service

Mayor of Thetford, Councillor Robert Kybird


13 June

Sports Experience Days

Presidents Sporting Club

15 June

Summer Reception

Chairman of Norfolk County Council, Michael R H Carttiss


17 June

Annual Civic Service

Lord Mayor, Councillor Roy Blower, and Sheriff, Nick Williams

22 June

Active Norfolk Youth Games

Active Norfolk Youth Games Committee


22 June

Civic Reception

Mayor and Mayoress of Thetford,Councillor Robert Kybird and Sue Glasson


24 June

Service celebrating the Life of Captain George Vancouver

The Mayor of Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Councillor Mrs Kathy Mellish








22 June

Change of Command


Lieutenant General Robert D Bishop JR, Commander Third Air Force, Mildenhall




Committee Minutes (Agenda Item 5)


Cabinet: 14 May 2007

(i)      Confirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 14 May 2007.


Members are reminded that the recommendations at Cabinet Minute No. 70(i) and (ii) were accepted by Council on 17 May 2007.


(ii)     Unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 5 June 2007.


Members were reminded that the recommendations at Minute Nos. 58/07 and 62/07 had been accepted by Council on 17 May 2007.


RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 14 May 2007 be adopted.



Cabinet: 5 June 2007


(i)         Best Value Performance Plan 2007/2008 (Minute No. 67/07)


The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office informed Members that this Plan gave the clearest insight of how the Council was performing and had mapped out the Council’s progress for the future.  He explained that the Council had a statutory duty to produce a Local Performance Plan by 30 June 2007.  Failure to publish the plan by this date would result in the auditors qualifying the Local Performance Plan which, in turn, would have implications for the Council in the Annual Audit and Inspection letter.


Members were informed that there had been significant improvement since the previous Plan.  Customer satisfaction in Breckland was at 63% which was significantly higher than the national average and above the level set by MORI.  70% of the Performance Indicators had improved and 42% were in the best quartile compared to the local average.


A Member questioned the Council’s contract with Steeles, the private law firm contracted by the Council, as it was his understanding that all the Council’s contracts had to be reviewed every six months.  In response, the Executive Member for the Cabinet Office explained that the Steeles contract was presently under review and was still at the negotiation stage.


RESOLVED that the Best Value Performance Plan 2007/2008 be adopted.


(ii)               Thetford New Growth Point Status Budget (Minute No. 68/07)


A Thetford Member urged the Council, as the local planning authority, to be most insistent that the infrastructure, such as schools, dentists, doctors etc be in place before the vast amounts of housing were developed.  The Leader echoed these comments and said that it was indeed imperative that all partners worked together on this project and that plans should be made for the whole project and not piecemeal. He pointed out that the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) was very keen to develop a town strategy.  The former Chairman of Policy Development and Review Panel 1 said that the Overview and Scrutiny Commission would be very keen to look at this whole process and suggested that it became one of the key elements of the Commission over the next few years.


(iii)       Appointment of Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Transformation (Minute No. 71/07)




(1)                     the minor changes to the roles of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Transformation role profiles as set out in Appendices B and C of the report be agreed; and


(2)       any further minor changes be delegated to the Chief Executive, Leader and Chairman of the General Purposes Committee.


(iv)       References from Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Internal Audit (Minute No. 73/07(a)


RESOLVED that the following recommendations be received and noted:


(1)       the Annual Report of the Audit Manager;


(2)       the overall standards of internal control that were satisfactory during 2006/07;


(3)               the satisfactory opinion on internal control be taken forward into the Council’s statement on Internal Control for 2006/07;


(4)       the initial feedback on the effectiveness of Internal Audit indicated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78/07b


Cabinet: 18 June 2007


The Democratic Services Manager advised that this set of Minutes would be circulated with the next Council Agenda on 2 August 2007 for adoption.


(i)      Project Create: Appointment of Temporary Business Transformation Director (Minute No. 78/07)


The Interim Chief Executive briefed Members on the Council’s recent restructure, explaining that the new Chief Executive would commence his employment with the Council on 2 July 2007.  He, himself would remain as the Interim Chief Executive until 1 August 2007.  A new Senior Management Team had been put in place until 30 September 2007 as follows:


·        Mark Stokes would continue as Deputy Chief Executive;


·        Ray Johnson would continue as the Operations Manager for Commercial Services; and


·        Steve Knights would continue as the Operations Manager for Environment.


Further appointments would take place on 1 August 2007.  The Interim Chief Executive explained that Mr K Stevens had been appointed as the temporary Business Transformation Director to ensure that focus remained on driving forward the CREATE work as any gap at this senior level would be detrimental to the process.  This appointment would ensure that both the organisational and technical skills were available to minimise the learning curve and maintain progress on the key projects.


(ii)     Administration of the Breckland Housing Register – Appointment of a New Contractor (Minute No. 79/07)


Messrs W Smith, P Claussen and S Knights left the room whilst this item was being discussed.




(1)         the contract to administer the Housing Register and introduce a Choice Based Lettings Scheme on behalf of Breckland Council be awarded to Anglia Revenues Partnership (ARP) Trading Ltd;


(2)         a five year contract term be awarded to 2012, at a cost of £1,328,093.00; and


(3)    a comprehensive review be undertaken in year three of the contract into the future options for delivery of the service.


Development Control

(i)           Confirmed Minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 21 May 2007.


(ii)         Unconfirmed Minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 11 June 2007.


(i)           Development Control Committee: 21 May 2007


RESOLVED that the confirmed Minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 21 May 2007 be adopted.


(ii)         Development Control Committee: 11 June 2007


RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 11 June 2007 be adopted.


Overview and Scrutiny Commission

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 24 May 2007.


(i)      Public Toilets – Review Update (Minute No. 64/07)


A Member directed a number of questions to the leader of the Council. He was concerned that Breckland Council had been very dictatorial towards Watton Town Council with regard to it taking over the responsibility for its own public toilets.  He asked what would happen if the Town Council decided not to take them on.  He further stated that Watton Town Council had written to Breckland Council on 1 June requesting a breakdown of costs but had still not received a response. 


The Leader of the Council explained that he had visited all five Market Towns in the District back in January just before the issue of the new White Paper.  He felt that all assets, including public toilets and playing fields, should be given back to the towns.  There would be costs involved; however, Breckland Council had offered £275,000 to each of the Town Councils to take over the responsibility of the toilets.  The Leader added that he had received a letter from Watton Town Council which had recently been responded to.


Another Member felt that the Town Councils would make a much better job of maintaining the public toilets but suggested that another scheme, such as, operating under a licence, be investigated.  He felt that the maintenance aspect and the capital costs should be looked after by Breckland Council on the Town Councils’ behalf.


The Leader summed up by saying that the Operations Manager for Commercial Services would be negotiating with all Town Councils and it would be his responsibility to move this issue forward.


(ii)     Adoption


RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 24 May 2007 be adopted.


General Purposes

Unconfirmed Minutes of the General Purposes Committee meeting held on 23 May 2007.


RESOLVED that the Minutes of the General Purposes Committee meeting held on 23 May 2007 be adopted.



Unconfirmed Minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 31 May 2007.


(i)           Standards Board for England: Investigation Report – Councillor A. Stasiak, Breckland Council


The Deputy Leader read a letter from Mike Horn, the Council’s District Solicitor, addressed to the former Chairman, concerning the incident that had occurred at a Council meeting held in August 2006. The letter included the statement that Mr Horn regarded as the events that had surrounded that particular Council meeting and he felt that it was a matter of great regret and he looked forward to those events being put behind him.


Mr Stasiak responded.  He stated: “It was well known that while attempting to fulfil my duties as a local representative, on a matter of wide public concern for the residents of Attleborough, I found the constraints imposed by the restrictive and, as I later found, penal provisions of the Standards Board Code of Practice, unnecessary and heavy handed”.


“After many months of living under the threat of prosecution by the Board I am gratified and relieved that that Body has now adjudged my actions in seeking to defend the legitimate interests of my constituents were not contrary to the Code, but were the right and proper actions of a democratically elected representative”.


He also asked that a line be drawn under this matter.


(ii)         Adoption


RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 31 May 2007 be adopted.


Best Value Performance Plan 2007/2008 (Agenda item 6)

Report of the Operations Manager – Cabinet.


The Performance Plan is attached as a separate document.


This item had been discussed and adopted under Cabinet Minute No. 78(b) (i) above.



Approval of the Draft Statement of Accounts (Agenda item 7)

Report of the Operations Manager (Cabinet).


The Deputy Leader reported that it was a requirement to publish a Statement of Accounts by 30 September 2007. He explained that the net expenditure on services had risen by £2.2m compared with 2005/2006; however, much of this increase had been related to focusing on service improvements to the public and increasing efficiency in the future. 


Comparing the costs between 2005-06 and 2006-07 a number of key variances existed, one of them being the £626K increase to the cost of concessionary bus fares; however, Breckland Council had still maintained its position of the lowest Council Tax in the Country.  The General Fund balance being carried forward for 2006-07 was £4m.


The Chief Accountant presented the revised Statement of Accounts that had been tabled at the meeting, together with a presentation that provided Members with a self explanatory guide to the changes to the layout of the statement of accounts  (the revised set included the notes being tidied and the cash flow statement being completed; the report itself had not changed with the exception of the earmarked reserve note being moved to page 28).The changes had been brought about by changes in regulations in the SORP

(Statement of Recommended Practice).


(A copy of the presentation is attached to these Minutes for information).


This was the set of accounts that would be passed to the Audit Commission.


The main changes to the accounts had brought local authority accounting more in line with the industry standard and these were explained.


A Member asked why the capital charges were no longer being charged to services.  In response, the Chief Accountant explained that the regulations required the Council not to make these charges to services but there would be no effect on the General Fund balance because the accounting entry which reverses out these charges no longer applied.


Another Member was delighted to note the excellent performance in the Commercial Property Trading Account and highlighted the fact that the acquisition of Barnham Broom had increased income.  However, he was concerned that the Council had drawn £1.24m from the surplus of the Commercial Property Reserve to support the General Fund and other reserves; in other words the Council has had to bale out other sections that were not profitable.  He asked if the Leader could re-assure Members that the balance was going to be maintained to stimulate and promote local businesses.  The Chief Accountant advised that overall rental income in the Commercial Property account had, in fact, increased by £362K compared to the previous year.  The Reserve balance had increased despite contributing to other services and this level of contribution remained sustainable.  The Leader reminded Members that although the net expenditure on services had increased by £2.2m, the Council was re-investing money to ensure that public services continue to improve without any financial burden to the residents of Breckland.  The Council would continue to work with the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) to encourage quality businesses to the area.


Other questions related to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 80.


Strategic Alliance (Standard Item) (Agenda item 8)

To receive an update.


The Executive Member (Strategic Alliance) made an announcement about Keith Stevens’ appointment and said that there would be full reports under this item in future, leading up to the formation of the trading company.



Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 9)

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


RESOLVED that the following changes be noted:



Overview and Scrutiny Commission Chairman and Vice-Chairman

Further to Minute No. 66/07(f) of the Council meeting held on 17 May 2007, to appoint the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.


Chairman: Phil Cowen

Vice Chairman: Robin Goreham


Standards Committee

i)              Breckland Member Substitutes


To complete the membership of the Standards Committee, it is necessary for the Council to appoint two named Breckland Member Substitutes for:


Mr D Williams (Chairman); and


Mr R Childerhouse.


ii)            Parish Member and Parish Member Substitutes


Interviews of candidates to fill the Parish Member and Substitute Parish Member places on the Committee took place prior to the Standards Committee meeting held on 31 May 2007 and nominations for these seats were made as follows:


Parish Member Nominee – Mrs Margaret Oechsle (Yaxham Parish Councillor)


Substitute Parish Members:


(1) Mr Brian Rayner (Narborough Parish Councillor)

         (2) Mr Malcolm Whittley (Oxborough Parish Councillor)


These appointments are for a term of four years (until the next parish and town elections).


Two named substitutes for Breckland Members:

John Labouchere and Elizabeth Gould.


Policy Development and Review Panels: Vacancies

Nominations for these seats have been made as follows:


i)              Policy Development and Review Panel 1


Independent Member nominee – Mrs P Quadling.


ii)            Policy Development and Review Panel 2


Independent Member nominee – Mrs P Quadling.


iii)          Policy Development and Review Panel 3


         Labour Member nominee – Mr P Balaam.


Panel 1: Mrs P Quadling


Panel 2: Mrs P Quadling


Panel 3: Mr P Balaam


Appeals Committee: Vacant Seat

Labour Member nominee – Mr M Fanthorpe.


Mr M Fanthorpe


Project Create Working Group: Vacant Seat

(One Independent Member).


Terry Lamb


Member Training Panel

To complete the membership of the Member Training Panel, it is necessary for a further three Members, one from each Group, to be appointed.  The Members who have accepted the Member Training Panel places so far are as follows:


Mrs M Chapman-Allen


Mr I Sherwood; and


Mr G Bambridge.


Gordon Bambridge

Marion Chapman-Allen,

Shirley Howard-Alpe

Robin Goreham

Keith Gilbert

Ian Sherwood


Local Joint Consultative Committee

Appointment of Substitutes for the Employers’ Side of the LJCC.


Two named substitutes for the Employers’ Side appointed as follows:


Ian Sherwood and Nigel Wilkin.