Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870

No. Item


Minutes (Agenda Item 1)

To confirm the following minutes:


Minutes from the meeting held on 12 July 2018 pdf icon PDF 98 KB


Councillor Hewett did not think the Minutes accurately recorded what had been said and requested some amendments.  Her request was not supported.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



Minutes from the special meeting held 17 August 2018 pdf icon PDF 75 KB


Councillor Hewett had requested some amendments to the wording of the ambitions in the ICT Strategy.  Her request had not been recorded in the Minutes, but she noted that the Strategy had been amended.


Subject to the inclusion of Councillor Hewett’s request for an amendment to the wording of the ICT Strategy, the Minutes of the meeting held on 17 August 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



Apologies and Substitutes (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence and to note substitute Members in attendance.


Apologies were received from Councillors Brame, Dimoglou and Oliver.

Councillor Wilkinson was present as Substitute for Councillor Dimoglou.


Councillor Kybird left the meeting between 2.30 and 3.00pm.

Councillor T Hewett left the meeting at 3.00pm.



Chairman's Announcements (Agenda Item 3)





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.





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.



No declarations were made.



Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting (Agenda Item 6)

To note the names of any non-members or public speakers wishing to address the meeting.


Councillors Bambridge, Hollis, Newton, Nunn, Sharpe, Stasiak and Webb were in attendance.



Leader of the Council (Agenda Item 7)

Councillor William Nunn, Leader of the Council, has been invited to attend the meeting to give an overview on what has gone well during 2018, and outline the Council’s plans for 2018/19.



Councillor William Nunn, Leader of the Council, had been invited to provide an update the Commission.  His presentation covered the following points:


·         The strong financial management of the Council had put it in a positive position looking forward to the future.  The withdrawal of RSG had been addressed and reliance on New Homes Bonus had been removed.  

·         Money has been realigned to create and support new initiatives such as the Market Towns Initiative, to establish the Communities Fund and to contribute further to our very successful commercial portfolio which financially supports Council services on an ongoing basis.

·         We are now looking to create a new refreshed investment strategy.  Businesses have changed and lots of allocated industrial land has been dormant for many years.  We recognise this is a problem and we have secured HIF funding from the Government for Thetford and funding from the LEP to provide power in Snetterton to allow businesses to expand. 

·         The aim is to take our approach one step further by proactively engaging on our major sites and through direct intervention to generate interest in bringing longstanding sites forward.  A proactive approach to problem solving for sites is what we are seeking to achieve through the council working with partners and interested parties to deliver housing and employment land in Breckland.

·         We have 3 new teams (Contracts, Delivery Unit and Regeneration) all aimed at increasing growth.  We are taking on seven apprentices and three graduates.

·         The Local Plan

After five long years of hard work the Local Plan is moving towards adoption.

We are just awaiting the Inspector’s report following the Examination in Public process.  More public consultation is likely to follow on any suggested amendments from that report.  But we are still on course for adoption of the plan by March 2019.  Post adoption, the Council will continue to keep the plan under regular review.  We can be proud that we are ahead of all the other Norfolk Authorities in this process.

·         Commercial Property Update

We are currently preparing a list of assets for disposal to ensure churn.  We are constantly looking at revenue streams to secure the services we provide.  There was a fine balance between acting commercially and being able to do the community things that we are pledged to do. 

·         On the Road’ Cabinets
These have been held in our market towns throughout 2018 and have been successful in improving public engagement.  It is difficult for communities to engage when all the meetings are held in Dereham.  There had been a good turnout of people and some good questions asked. 

·         Health

We are active members of the Norfolk Health and Wellbeing drawing down £34,000 to be distributed as grants to community groups to improve local health issues.

·         Breckland Lottery
Our Breckland Lottery was launched this year is doing really well.  Awe have sold about £50,000 worth of tickets providing money to 55 good causes across the District.

·         Corporate Plan Refresh
Work has started on the refresh of our  ...  view the full minutes text for item 100.


Customer Access Strategy (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Report of Executive Member People and Information, Councillor Alison Webb.

Additional documents:


This report had been scrutinised previously by the Commission and had been altered at their request. 


Councillor Crawford considered it was a vast improvement, but he was still concerned about the 25% of Breckland residents who did not have the ability to go online.  He was reassured that people would still be able to phone in for assistance.


The concerns about vulnerable people were understood.  Most services would still be available on the phone or face to face at libraries and in the main offices. 


Councillor T Hewett pointed out that the wording on page 36 of the Strategy should say that the Council would be providing ‘excellent services’ not good.  The Executive Member for People and Information agreed to that change.


It was also confirmed that the document would be proof read before it was published. 


RESOLVED that subject to the minor amendment agreed above Members supported the adoption of the Customer Access Strategy.



ICT & Digital Strategy (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Report of Executive Member People and Information, Councillor Alison Webb.


Additional documents:


This report had also been previously scrutinised and had been amended to reflect the suggestions made at that time.


The total cost of the digital work programme was £442,000 but it was too early to quantify the full efficiencies.  Each project could be judged on its own merit.


Greater emphasis had been placed on remote working to save time and travel.


RESOLVED to support approval of the ICT and Digital Strategy.



Revised Gambling Act Statement of Principles (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 80 KB

Report of Executive Member People and Information, Councillor Alison Webb.


Additional documents:


The revised Gambling Act Statement of Principles reflected changes in Government guidelines.  A lot of the text was standardised, but it had been ‘localised’ where possible.  It was currently out for consultation with stakeholders.  The next step would be to produce a local plan for gambling, for businesses.


Councillor Jermy asked if there was any guidance on restricting the number of bettings shops that can open in one location.  He knew of one street in Thetford that had three such shops.  He was advised that that was not part of the policy as that was a planning issue which the Statement had no power to restrict.  However, the location was taken into consideration before an application was granted.


It was clarified that betting shops were sui generis in Planning terms, meaning they did not fit into any of the Planning categories and therefore required express consent.


Councillor Bambridge encouraged all responsible citizens to lobby to encourage a change to prevent the increase in gambling.


The Licensing Manager pointed out that the Local Authority could regulate gambling premises but they had no control over on-line gambling.  Public Health had approached the Council for information on the harm and the Licensing and Business Support Manager would be meeting with them to see what could be done.


Councillor Jermy noted that there was very little support for gambling addiction in Breckland and that was something the Council should be more aware of.


Councillor T Hewett suggested that engaging with schools might help to prevent future gambling problems.


RESOLVED to support the revised Gambling Act Statement of Principles.



Q1 2018-19 Performance Overview Report (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Report of Executive Member People and Information, Councillor Alison Webb.


Additional documents:


The report outlined performance against the Corporate Plan.  Most areas were positive.  The following poor performances were noted:


·         Gross rental income was under target due to rent loss caused by void premises.

·         Staff turnover remained high.  Comparison was needed with other authorities to determine if there was cause for concern.

·         FOI responses had improved but were still well below target.  Ways of automating the system were being looked at.


It was recommended that the performance of garden waste be measured by the number of subscribers rather than as currently, as that would give a clearer indication of uptake of the scheme.


Councillor Crawford asked if a figure could be provided for the number of empty properties in Breckland.  It was also pointed out that there was no value against the indicator for Quarter 1.  Ross Bangs agreed to publish those pieces of information.


The Chairman asked for a report on FOIs for the December meeting, Information should include a breakdown of the categories of requests to indicate how many came from members of the public, MPs, businesses, etc and the cost of responding to them.  It was noted that the Council could charge for the information if the request took over 18 hours to administer. 


Some Members were concerned about staff turnover numbers.  It was suggested that a ‘below the line’ report should be provided to a future meeting giving more information about the reasons people were leaving.  It was agreed that this would be added to the work programme.


The following points were noted:


·         A discount could be offered for having more than one garden waste bin

·         The bar chart scale on page 80 was wrong.


The report was otherwise noted.



Equality and Diversity Policy (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Report of Executive Member People and Information, Councillor Alison Webb.



Additional documents:


The Council was required to have this Policy and it was committed to providing fair and equal access to services etc.  The Policy set out the Council’s ambitions.


Councillor Jermy asked if the Council carried out an equality impact assessment when it changed its policies as they were done at the County Council and they looked at all the issues.


The Executive Director Strategy & Governance agreed to check if it was a legal requirement and whether such an assessment had been carried out.


The report was otherwise noted.



Freedom of Information Policy (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Report of Executive Member People and Information, Councillor Alison Webb.



Additional documents:


The draft policy set out the Council’s ambitions in line with the Freedom of Information Act.


Councillor Kybird noted that three links needed to be added to the policy.


The report was otherwise noted.



Norfolk Health and Wellbeing Strategy (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Report of Executive Member for Place, Councillor Paul Claussen.

Additional documents:


The report set out the strategy for the whole of Norfolk.  The County Council had responsibility for Health but the Council was taking a more active part in the three priorities of prevention, tackling inequalities and integrating ways of working.


The following points were raised:


·         Councillor Kybird queried the figure spent on health and it was clarified that it should read £1.6 billion.

·         Gambling was part of the strategy which would bring a number of services together to deliver interventions.

·         The Health & Wellbeing Boards could lobby on the lack of respite care available in the District.


The report was otherwise noted.



Community Asset Value Policy (Agenda Item 15)

To receive a verbal update on the policy from the Communities and Environmental Services Manager.


The Communities Manager gave a presentation to provide more detail about this Policy.  He talked through the process.


·         Communities could identify buildings or land of importance.

·         Once land/property was listed if it came up for sale, communities had a fair chance to bid for it.

·         The policy did not restrict who the asset could be sold to.

·         The policy did not give communities a ‘right to buy’ just a right to bid.

·         To qualify to be listed an asset had to continue to further the wellbeing or social interests of the community.

·         Once listed it will stay on the register for five years.

·         If a listed asset is put up for sale the community has six weeks to bid.

·         The asset cannot be sold during that six week period, but after that time the owner can sell to whoever they want at whatever price they want.

·         If a community bid was received during the six weeks, they then had six months to prepare a financial business case.

·         At the end of that period the owner can sell to whoever they want at whatever price they want.

·         The Council is liable for compensation if a landowner can evidence that they have incurred expense as a result of the asset being listed.


The process had been reviewed and there was potential for the Council to be more pro-active in advertising the policy to encourage communities to apply to list assets before they were actually put up for sale.  It would not require a change to the policy.  All Town and Parish Councils could be sent information about the scheme to generate nominations.


The Chairman proposed that a more pro-active approach be taken.  Her proposal was seconded and approved.




1.    A more pro-active marketing approach be taken to inform Town and Parish Councils about the scheme in the first instance.

2.    If Officers were able to cope with the increased demand, then other community based organisations should also be contacted.

3.    An update report would be provided in six months, to show if the additional publicity had increased the number of nominations received.



Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 16)

To receive a verbal update from the Task & Finish Group Chairman in respect of the following meeting:


·        Impact of Fly-Tipping - Councillor Terry Jermy



Councillor Jermy (Chairman of the Impact of Fly Tipping T&FG) gave a brief update.


A Waste Officer from the County Council had attended the last meeting and Members had learnt a lot.  At the next meeting they would be looking at the impact of fly tipping on others.



Outside Body Feedback (Agenda Item 17)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.



Councillor Wilkinson reported that NCC were working with Planning and local interested parties to produce an action plan to reduce the impact of air pollution in the centre of Swaffham.  The plan would be presented to a future Council and then submitted to DEFRA.


Three actions from the plan had already been taken forward.  Market Towns Initiative had committed £5,000 in match funding for initial appraisal work.


The Chairman was concerned about the slow progress.  The Executive Director Place agreed to find out what the funding would be spent on and to provide that information to the Chairman.


Councillor Wilkinson also informed Members that the Breckland YAB now had five local youth groups and a new youth worker, working with the towns.


He also advised that the Norfolk Health Overview Scrutiny Committee had written to the relevant Minister raising the issue of vulnerable people having to move out of the County for mental health treatment.



Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 18)

To note whether any decisions have been called-in for scrutiny.


Nothing to report.



Councillor Call for Action (Agenda Item 19)

To consider any references.


Nothing to report.



Work Programme (Agenda Item 20) pdf icon PDF 84 KB

(a)          A copy of the Commission’s work programme is attached.  The Commission is asked to agree any additions, deletions or amendments to the programme as appropriate.


(b)        Member Issues:  In accordance with the Commission’s protocol for member leadership, which states that members of the Commission will take the lead in selecting topics for overview and scrutiny and in the questioning of witnesses, members are invited to put forward items for selection for future review.


A copy of the Key Decision Plan is attached for Members’ information.

Additional documents:


The Chairman requested the S106 item to be added to the work programme for the December meeting.


Also in December the Highways representative was to be invited back as no feedback had been received since their last presentation.  Issues to be raised should be collated in advance of the meeting.


Councillor Jermy noted that there were moves to privatise the County Highways Department.  He suggested a below the line item to consider the implications of that on Breckland.  The Chairman asked Councillor Jermy to do some background work on the sort of questions that needed asking.


Items to be added to the work programme:


·         Update on FOIs for the December meeting.

·         Update on the Community Asset Value Policy to March 2019 meeting



Next Meeting (Agenda Item 21)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 8 November 2018 at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.



The arrangements for the next meeting on 8 November 2018 at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham were noted.



Exclusion of Press and Public (Agenda Item 22)

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 paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.






RESOLVED that under Section 100(A)(4) 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 involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act.



Neighbourhood Planning - Transfer of service (Agenda Item 23)

Report of Executive Member for Growth, Councillor Gordon Bambridge.


Additional documents:


The Local Authority had a duty to support neighbourhood planning.  A post had been created and made permanent since 2016, to give communities a single point of contact.


There were a lot of synergies with that post and the work done by the Planning Policy team.  It was therefore proposed to transfer the service to Capita.  The move would provide increased resilience and knowledge transfer for the Council and would provide additional capacity for communities as well.


Financially it would be cost neutral.  The existing budget would be transferred to Capita.  It would require a change to the Capita contract.


The proposal did not affect the decision making pathways. The business case would be presented to Council, probably not before December of January.


It was confirmed that inter-department consultation would continue and the standard of service would remain as good.


RESOLVED to support the proposed transfer of the Council’s Neighbourhood Planning service to Capita.