Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

17.

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 4 February 2015.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 4 February 2015 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 Councillors Borrett, Clarke and Millbank.

 

Councillors Darby and R Richmond were present as Substitutes.

19.

Declaration of Interests (Agenda Item 3)

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate and must leave the room, for the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. 

 

In the interests of transparency, Members may also wish to declare any other interests they have in relation to an agenda item, that support the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

20.

Urgent Business (Agenda Item 4)

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item as urgent business, pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

The Interim HR Manager was invited to explain to Members why a Special General Purposes meeting had been arranged for 1 April 2015.  She advised that a Senior Management Restructure was being carried out.  Copies of the timetable for the restructure were tabled. 

 

Councillor Goreham asked why the matter was being rushed through before the Election and he was advised that as some officers would be put ‘at risk’ by the review it was important to minimise the timescale and avoid an extended period of uncertainty.

 

Councillor Stasiak was not happy about the short notice as he would be unable to attend the Special meeting.

 

Councillor Chapman-Allen asked when the last review had taken place and was advised it had been in 2009.  She was concerned that some good Breckland Officers might be lost and sorry that Councillor Stasiak’s experience would be missed at the meeting.

21.

Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting (Agenda Item 5)

To note the names of any non-Members who wish to address the meeting.

Minutes:

Councillor Bambridge was in attendance.

22.

Outcome of Corporate Improvement & Performance Team Re-structure (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Report of the Executive Director Commissioning & Governance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Community presented the report which highlighted the review process which had led to a redesign of the service function and team duties of the Corporate Improvement & Performance Team. 

 

As the revised structure meant that different roles and attributes were required from the team a recruitment process had been run, including full interviews.  Two team members had not met the required standard and had therefore been proposed for redundancy.  Although the process had been carried out entirely consistently with the Council’s policy there was a technical issue. 

 

In the Council’s Constitution it was clear that matters affecting five or less staff did not need to be considered by the Local Joint Consultative Committee or the General Purposes Committee.  Minor staffing restructures within budget could be carried out by Chief Officers.  However, the Redundancy Policy states that all decisions on redundancies had to be authorised by the General Purposes Committee or Full Council.

 

In this instance authority had not been sought ‘up-front’ as the review had affected less than five staff, but as two members of staff had failed to meet the required standards, authority for their redundancy was now sought.

 

Councillor Goreham asked if the two members of staff had failed to meet the required competency for the new roles or for their existing roles and whether all staff were subject to scrutiny for carrying out their roles.  He pointed out that the two people involved had been carrying out their roles for a number of years but were now found not-competent.

 

The Assistant Director Community confirmed that the failure to meet the required standard was in regard to the new, not existing roles, and that all staff were assessed through the appraisal system regarding their existing roles.

 

Councillor R Richmond asked how long the two people had worked for the Council.  That information was not available at the meeting, but it was confirmed that they had worked for the Council for a significant amount of time.  He asked if they had been given the opportunity to retrain for the new roles and was advised that they had not met the required criteria and redundancy was therefore proposed.

 

Councillor Goreham said he was very uncomfortable that the two people had worked for the Council for ten years and were now not competent for a new role.

 

The Chairman asked for confirmation that all relevant procedures had been followed.  He was advised that the consultation, application and interview process had been in line with policy and procedure.  An interview panel had determined that the two candidates did not meet the required standards.

 

Councillor Stasiak asked who had been on the panel and he was informed that the Corporate Improvement and Performance Manager, the Interim Corporate Improvement and Performance Manager and the Joint Corporate Improvement and Performance Team Leader had been the panel members.

 

Councillor Goreham asked if two new staff would be recruited and it was confirmed that as the roles were substantially different to previous roles then recruitment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Hackney Carriage Fare Review (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Assistant Director Community.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Licensing Officer presented the report which asked Members to consider an increase in Hackney Carriage fares. 

 

A request to increase the fares had been received due to increased fuel and driving costs.  The last increase had been in November 2011. 

 

Information on comparative fees was included in the appendix to the agenda and an increase would bring the Council into line with other Local Authorities.  If Members agreed to the proposal it would go out for consultation with the licensed hackney carriage proprietors and feedback would be reported to the Committee.  If Members still supported the proposal a public notice would be displayed for 16 days giving the public an opportunity to comment or object.  It was expected that the new fares would come into effect on 1 July 2015.

 

The Chairman noted that the fares were the maximum that could be charged.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)                  the application for a fare review be approved; and

2)                  the increase of hackney carriage fare charges, shown as the new fare chart at Appendix E, be approved.

 

24.

Request to amend the Breckland Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Procedures (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Report of the Assistant Director Community.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Licensing & Business Support Manager presented the report which proposed an amendment to the Policy to include safeguarding requirements.  A Safeguarding Code of Conduct for taxi drivers would set out the Council’s expectations of their behaviour.  This proposal was in response to recent high profile cases of child sexual exploitation.

 

Taxi drivers were out and about in the District and often responsible for the movements of young and vulnerable people.  The proposal would make them responsible for reporting suspicious activity. 

 

There was currently a good system to check if taxi drivers were fit and proper persons and to deal with any allegations against them, through the Appeals Committee.  However, there was a need to be pro-active with regard to safeguarding and it was therefore suggested that in future taxi drivers should be required to sign a Code of Conduct and to be trained in awareness about safeguarding and their responsibility to report any suspicions (although the details of that training had yet to be decided).

 

Two minor amendments to the Code of Conduct on the agenda were proposed:

 

Eighth bullet point on page 26, add

(other than for clear and obvious business connections)

 

Eleventh bullet point on page 26, amend to

Offer sweets, cigarettes or gifts of any sort.

 

A letter would be sent out to all existing licensed taxi drivers giving them an overview and explaining the background to the new requirements.  New applications and renewal forms would include the requirement for a signature as formal acceptance of the terms.  Within three years all drivers would be included in the scheme.  Information would also be made available on the Council’s website.

 

Councillor Matthews thought it was a very common sense approach.

 

The Executive Member for Democratic Services & Public Protection advised that the matter would be discussed in greater detail at the Licensing Committee meeting on 25 March.  Members were invited to attend that meeting.  He congratulated the Licensing & Business Support Manager and her team for being leaders in the field and commended the proposal to the Committee.

 

Councillor Goreham remarked on the Council’s corporate responsibility but added that it was incumbent on everyone in society to safeguard vulnerable people and young children.  He thought it was an excellent report.

 

Councillor Darby asked if mini-buses were covered by the same requirements and he was advised that they were if they were licensed by the Council.  If they were licensed by Norfolk County Council they would be managed by them.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)                  the Safeguarding Code of Conduct be approved; and

2)                  a requirement for safeguarding awareness be included in the application/renewal process.

25.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 9)

To note that the date of the next meeting has changed to Wednesday, 10 June 2015.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the Special meeting on 1 April 2015 at 10.30am in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham, were noted.

26.

Exclusion of Press & Public (Agenda Item 10)

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.

 

 

PART B – ITEM FROM WHICH THE PRESS AND THE PUBLIC ARE EXCLUDED

 

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involved the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

 

27.

Taxi fees (Agenda Item 11)

Report of the Assistant Director Community.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Licensing & Business Support Manager presented the report which referred to the fares charged by the Council to administer the taxi function.  The fares had not been reviewed since 2011.  

 

The legislation was very clear about what could be included in the charges and the Council was not allowed to make any profit on the process.  If it was proposed to charge more than £25 there would have to be a 28 day public notice period to allow for objections.  The consultation would run from the end of March to the end of April.  If the fares were approved a letter and information pack would be sent out to all taxi drivers.

 

Each process had been looked at and carefully calculated to work out its actual cost.  In some cases it was proposed to decrease the amount charged and in other cases there would be increases.

 

RESOLVED that a reasonable increase in the licence fee levels for taxis, as set out in the Appendix to the report, be approved.