Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

17.

Minutes (Agenda item 1)

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2008.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 January 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

18.

Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr S Chapman-Allen, Mr P Cowen, Mr M Griffin, Mr A Joel, Mr T Lamb, Mr I Monson, Mrs L Monument, Mrs P Quadling, Mr M Spencer and Mr D Williams.

 

19.

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.

 

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were noted:

 

·              Cllr G Bambridge – Personal interests by virtue of his professional work as a Planning Consultant in regard to LDF and planning matters as recorded under Council Minute No. 3/08, Overview and Scrutiny Commission Minute No. 3/08 and Cabinet Minute No. 29/08.

 

·              Cllr E Gould – Prejudicial interest for the reason as recorded under Minute No. 13/08 of the Development Control Committee held on 4 February 2008 (see Minute No 24/08 (a) below) and would leave the room if this item was discussed.

 

·              Cllrs J Rogers and J Labouchere – Personal interests in anything related to the Local Development Framework.

 

·              Cllr F Sharpe – Prejudicial interest in Minute No. 31/08 of the Cabinet meeting held on 12 February 2008 by virtue of him running a Post Office.  Cllr Sharpe would leave the room if this item was discussed.

 

·              Cllr C Jordan – Personal interest in relation to Agenda item 12 – by virtue of him being Chairman of the Audit Committee.

 

·              Lady K Fisher - Personal interest in Minute No. 30/08 of the Cabinet meeting held on 12 February 2008 by virtue of her being a landowner in Thetford.

 

20.

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 4)

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

Minutes:

·              The Chairman wished Cllr J Ball and Mrs Zoe Footer a very happy birthday and congratulated Mrs Julie Britton on her recent promotion to Senior Committee Officer.

 

·              As a Member of the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust, and in the light of the Trust’s presentation to Council in 2006, the Chairman was pleased to report that NHS Foundation Trust status had now been achieved.

 

·              The Chairman had been pleased to represent the Council at the recent opening of the Lynn Mart as the guest of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council.

 

·              Members were reminded that if they were two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax they must disclose the fact and not vote on any item to set tax or any decision which might affect its calculation.

 

A list of engagements attended by the Chairman was tabled, for the period 17 January to 20 February 2008, which included:

 

DATE

EVENT

HOST

8 Jan 2008

Dinner for the Norfolk Chain Gang

Chairman of Broadland District Council, Councillor Michael Snowling

23 Jan 2008

Recording of the 500th Edition of the Talking Newspaper

Wymondham & Attleborough Talking Newspaper

27 Jan 2008

Royal Anglian visit to Great Yarmouth

His Worship the Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Councillor Paul Garrod

 

21.

Council Tax 2008-2009 (Agenda item 5)

The Council is asked to pass a formal resolution on the setting of the Council Tax.  The report of the Deputy Chief Executive is attached.

Minutes:

The Chief Accountant introduced the report which set out the amounts of Council Tax applicable for 2008-2009 for each valuation band and in each part of the area. 

 

Members were also provided with a presentation which covered the three main elements of the setting of the Council Tax:

 

         Budget & Precept requirement

         Property tax base

         Band D Council Tax

 

Each element was explained in detail, mainly for the benefit of new Members.

 

The estimates had been presented to Cabinet on 8 January 2008 and subsequently approved by Council on 17 January 2008 setting the band D Council Tax at £61.98 for the year.  Since then the final local government settlement had been announced and the figures had been updated in the budget.  A new Area Based Grant had been introduced for 2008/09.  Grants received would be set aside in an earmarked reserve to be spent on community cohesion schemes, with funding being released through Cabinet recommendations when schemes had been fully worked up.  A revised General Fund Summary incorporating the Star Chamber recommendations was shown at Appendix F.

 

Members were made aware of the Special Expenses, for the provision of the public lighting service, set out in paragraph 5.1 of the report.

 

The Norfolk Police Authority had met to set its Council Tax and had subsequently approved Option 2 of the Council’s report.

 

A Member believed that the Police had increased its Council Tax by 8.6% which could leave them vulnerable to be capped.  He asked who would be responsible for re-billing if this was to happen and if the Council’s performance for collection would be affected.

 

In response, the Chief Accountant advised that he had discussed the matter of possible capping with the Police Authority.  It had been estimated that the cost of re-billing would be in the region of £130K which the Police Authority would have to contribute towards.  As far as the issue of collection performance was concerned, it would be affected as new Council Tax bills would have to be sent.

 

Another Member praised the Chief Accountant for his presentation and the clear explanation behind it.  He also praised the authority as a whole especially the Finance Team for a very honourable and achievable effort in producing the budget and for the continued downward pressure on Council Tax. The six year programme of continual budgetary control procedures had kept the Council Tax increase down to 2.75% yet had still allowed Breckland to improve its services.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)           the revised budget and council tax be approved;

 

2)           the Special Expenses for 2008-2009, as set in paragraph 5.1of the report, be approved;

 

3)           it be noted that the Council has calculated the following amounts for the year 2008-2009 in accordance with regulations made under Section 33(5) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992:-

 

a)           £41,996.11 being the amount calculated by the Council, in accordance with regulation 3 of the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992 as amended by Statutory Instruments  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Cabinet Minutes - 12 February 2008 (Agenda item 6)

Unconfirmed minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 12 February 2008.

Minutes:

a)           Vacant and Surplus Land – Options (Minute No. 29/08)

 

A correction was made to note that it was the Executive Member for Housing who had supported the recommendation and not the Executive Member for Environment as stated in the Minute.

 

The Opposition Leader opened the debate on this matter to sell off council-owned open spaces and urged Members not to support the resolution that had been agreed by the Cabinet.  Four of the 11 sites were in his Ward, including Boyd Avenue which, in his opinion, was a well developed housing estate.  He felt that the financial gain to the Council on these particular sites would be pitiful.  He reminded Members that, according to national standards, Dereham was already short of 21 acres of brownfield sites and rather than losing valuable amenity space for those residents, there were other, more suitable sites in the area that he knew of that could be utilised.  The Opposition Leader also highlighted the initial limited consultation that had been carried out in 2004/05 by the former Scrutiny Panel (Economic) which he felt had been inadequate.  He further felt that this Council seemed to be in conflict with its own policies.

 

A fellow Labour Member put his opinions forward and said that Boyd Avenue was a model development that was considered to be very important to Dereham residents.  The safe green spaces had been used for children to play on since the estate was built in 1962.  He felt that development would be a retrograde step and a test case for the Council and if supported, open spaces throughout the whole District could be at risk.

 

Another Member reminded the Council that it was the government that was forcing local authorities to get land valued and to look at possible options for it; it did not mean that the land had to be built on. The Member did point out, however, that he was opposed to the possible development at Boyd Avenue.

 

The Executive Member for Planning did understand the concerns but asked Members to put this matter into perspective.  She explained that there were 6,000 pieces of land in Breckland that this Council owned and had a duty to value and maintain.  Housing was the Council’s number one priority and out of those 6,000 sites there would be opportunities for housing to be built; it did not mean that all of the sites would be developed.  Each plot of land would have to go through the planning process where a full consultation would have to take place.

 

The Leader was keen to point out that this was not a test case; this was in fact, the initial process authorised in 2005. However, Breckland was a listening Council and people’s concerns would be taken on board.  If Members had not been content with the initial process then he was happy for the matter to be put back to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission to ensure that the Council got it right.  It was not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Development Control Committee - 14 January 2008 (Agenda item 7)

Confirmed minutes of the meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 14 January 2008.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the confirmed Minutes of the Development Control Committee held on 14 January 2008 be adopted.

 

24.

Development Control Committee - 4 February 2008 (Agenda item 8)

Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Development Control Committee held on 4 February 2008.

Minutes:

a)           Declaration of Interest (Minute No. 13/08)

 

A correction was necessary so that the Minute read: “the Chairman declared a prejudicial interest in item 4 of the Schedule of Applications (North Elmham) as she had relatives who owned a site adjacent to the site”.

 

b)           Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 4 February 2008 be adopted.

 

25.

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - 24 January 2008 (Agenda item 9)

Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 24 January 2008.

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 24 January 2008 be adopted, subject to noting the wish of Mrs T Hewett to be appointed to the Working Group on the Environment Strategy rather than the Post Office Working Group (Minute No 5/08).

 

26.

Standards Committee - 22 January 2008 (Agenda item 10)

Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Standards Committee held on 22 January 2008.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Standards Committee meeting held on 22 January 2008 be adopted.

 

27.

Licensing Committee - 13 February 2008 (Agenda item 11)

Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 13 February 2008.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that that Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 13 February 2008 be adopted.

 

28.

Audit Committee (Agenda item 12)

To agree a Special Responsibility Allowance for the position of Chairman of the Audit Committee, as well as an appropriate fee for co-opted specialist advisers.

 

In agreeing such amounts, the Council must have regard to the recommendations of an Independent Remuneration Panel.  A report from the Panel is attached.

Minutes:

Mr C Jordan left the room and took no part in the discussion or voting on this matter.

 

The Democratic Services Manager presented the report of the Independent Remuneration Panel

 

The Council had recently formed an Audit Committee and had asked the Panel to consider an appropriate Special Responsibility Allowance for the position of Chairman of the new Committee, as well as rates payable to the specialist advisers provided for in the Constitution of the Audit Committee.

 

The Council had to have regard to the Panel’s recommendations.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)           a fee of £200 per session be offered for specialist advisers co-opted to the Audit Committee;

 

2)           the Special Responsibility Allowance for the Chairman of the Audit Committee be set at £4,345 per annum;

 

3)           both figures be reviewed as part of the next full report in the light of experience of the operation of the Audit Committee.

 

 

Mr J Labouchere wished for it to be recorded that he abstained from voting on this matter.

 

29.

Strategic Alliance (Standing Item) (Agenda item 13)

To receive an update (if any).

Minutes:

Nothing to report.

 

30.

Local Government Review (Standing Item) (Agenda item 14)

To receive an update (if any).

Minutes:

The Chief Executive provided Members with an update.

Breckland Council, together with all other principal Norfolk Councils, would be meeting with the Boundary Committee on 25 February where it would be learnt how the forthcoming review would be undertaken.

The Boundary Committee had received evidence for unitary options following the receipt of the terms of reference.

The Boundary Committee would analyse responses, produce final recommendations and present to the Secretary of State by the end of 2009.

A Member asked if this review would include Ward boundaries.  In response, the Chief Executive advised that if there was such a review it would require a separate process but he could not predict whether there would be a change to the existing boundaries in the future.

In response to a further question, Members were informed that the whole consultation process was open to the public.

 

31.

Nominations for Committee and other Seats (Agenda item 15)

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED that further to Minute No. 25/08 above, the following appointments and changes be noted:

 

a)           Policy Development and Review Panel 2

 

Cliff Jordan to be replaced by Mark Kiddle-Morris

 

b)           Sustainable Communities Steering Group

 

Robin Goreham to take up the Labour vacancy.