Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

1/19

Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2018.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

2/19

Apologies and Substitutes (Agenda item 2)

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

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Rhodri Oliver (Vice-Chairman), Theresa Hewett and Mike Nairn.

 

Councillors Claire Bowes and Peter Wilkinson were in attendance as substitutes.

3/19

Chairman's Announcements (Agenda item 3)

Minutes:

The Chairman wished Councillor Shirley Matthews and Councillor Robert Richmond a very happy birthday.

4/19

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:

None.

5/19

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.

 

Minutes:

None declared.

6/19

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.

Minutes:

Councillor Gordon Bambridge, the Executive Member for Growth, Councillor Paul Claussen, the Executive Member for Place (Health Lead), Councillor Mark Robinson, the Executive Member for Governance and Councillor Alison Webb, the Executive Member for People and Information were in attendance.

7/19

Gender Pay Gap Report (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 76 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Alison Webb, the Executive Member for People & Information presented the report.

 

The Equality Act 2010 Regulations 2017 required employers with 250 or more employees to publish information relating to the gender pay gap in their organisation.

 

This involved carrying out six calculations that highlighted the differences between the average earnings of men and women (see section 1.2 of the report).

 

According to the report, Breckland Council’s gender pay gap had improved compared to the previous year, showing 22.8% for 2017 and 13.1% for 2018.

 

In terms of figures, Councillor Webb was proud to report that this authority was well below the national average and had worked hard to reduce the gap.

 

In response to a question, Members were informed that the Anglia Revenues Partnership (ARP) staff were employed by Breckland Council.

 

Councillor Dimoglou said that he found the calculations in respect of workforce demographics a little confusing and asked if it was appropriate to base the figures around Contact Centre staff bearing in mind that they were mostly female.

 

Maxine O’Mahony, the Executive Director for Strategy & Governance advised that, although this was a very good point, Breckland Council’s data was comparable to other Councils and the Local Government Association.  76% of Breckland’s staff were female and were at the lower end paid roles whereas the Council’s contracted services were more of the male gender and if added to the mix the figures would be much lower.

 

Councillor Jermy was very pleased with the report but asked how this improvement had come about as the previous year Breckland Council had the greater percentage pay gap compared to other authorities in Norfolk.  He also wanted to know if Capita had been included and if the process had been found useful.

 

Councillor Webb explained that Capita staff were not on the Council’s payroll and therefore, had not been included in the figures. 

 

The HR Manager advised that the improvement in the gender pay gap had been due to the programme of talent management in recruiting and promoting people based on their natural strengths and placing less emphasis on their qualifications and experience; therefore, widening the Council’s pool of applicants.  Recruitment adverts had also been improved to be gender neutral and roles were now advertised using social media and online publications which had proved to be a successful method in recruiting talent.  There was still a great deal of work to be done and no-one was 100% sure of how the Council had performed compared to other Councils as the results were not due to be published until the end of March 2019.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

8/19

Pay Policy Statement 2019/20 (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 61 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for People & Information presented the Pay Policy Statement to Members.  Under Section 38 of the Localism Act, a Pay Policy Statement was required to be produced annually and approved by 31 March each year. 

 

Councillor Dimoglou asked about the ‘makeup’ of the Joint Appointments & Disciplinary Committee.  He also asked about the Chief Officer pay-bands and why there were such vast differences between them and who decided where these people were put.

 

The Executive Director for Strategy & Governance explained that pay grades were set collectively by the Joint Appointments & Disciplinary Committee and the pay bands were created via job evaluations that all local Councils had to abide by.

 

Councillor Joel asked if South Holland staff were on the same pay ceilings as Breckland.   Members were informed that it had been agreed that all shared staff would be under Breckland Councils terms & conditions and pay grades.  A recent review of South Holland District Council’s terms and conditions had been undertaken and were now much more aligned.

 

Councillor Jermy drew attention to the fact that during his discussions with the Independent Remuneration Panel members, a Panel that set the Members’ allowances, an allowance for the use of electric vehicles was discussed and he asked if this could be considered for staff.

 

The Executive Director for Strategy and Governance said that this would be investigated.

 

RECOMMEND to Council that the Pay Policy Statement be approved.

9/19

Q3 2018-19 Performance Overview Report (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 116 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for People & Information presented the report.

 

The Council continued to operate at a good level and the areas of success, particularly in relation to the number of complaints responded to within the timescale, were explained (see section 1.3 of the report).  The missed waste collections had seen the best quarter performance ever recorded; in total, there were only 17 missed bins for the whole of the district in this period and was a very positive reflection on the SERCO and Environmental Services teams. 

 

There were a few areas of concern including the amount of gross income generated by the Environmental Health, Training and Consultancy (EHT+C) commercial trading arm, staff turnover, staff sickness and major planning application determination times.  As far as the EHT+C was concerned, the Team was looking at new ways of marketing with a view of achieving the target at the end of the year. Sickness rates were attributed to seasonal illnesses and for planning there had been a decline in the number of major planning applications with the national standard at just 50%; however, Capita was confident that this would improve in this calendar year.

 

Councillor Brame queried the content of the key performance indicator table at section 1.2 of the report and felt that the incorrect information had been included as previously agreed.  The Executive Member for People & Information apologised but assured Members that the content was in fact correct it was the header that was wrong.Ross Bangs, the Corporate Improvement & Performance Manager also apologised for the date at the top of the header and explained that the monthly data within the graph was not comparable to previous quarters as the indicators changed in each quarter.

 

Referring to the graph, Councillor Brame had noticed that every previous quarter 3 had been better than this quarter 3 and felt that the chart should not have been included.

 

The Chairman said there was a benefit in having the chart it just needed to be re-jigged.

 

With regard to the report itself, Councillor Dimoglou raised a couple of points; the first being at section 1.4 of the report in relation to the number of complaints responded to within the timescale.  He felt that it should not be about how fast the Council took to respond it should be how quickly the complaint was resolved and how this was measured.  The Corporate Improvement & Performance Manager said that a report could be produced in future showing the number of complaints that had been escalated to stage 2.

 

The second point raised was in relation to staff turnover highlighted at section 1.9 of the report.  Councillor Dimoglou was aware of the difficulty that the Chief Executive had in dealing with a constant undertone of staff discontent and he had grave concerns that Breckland Council could be sleepwalking into an unmanageable situation. The Corporate Improvement & Performance Manager reported that the HR Team was satisfied with the level of staff turnover and the figures had been benchmarked  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9/19

10/19

Section 106 (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Report of Executive Director of Place.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Rob Walker, the Executive Director for Place presented the report.

 

The report informed Members of the process by which S106 funding was received, processed and released.

 

A number of key points were highlighted (see section 1.6 to 1.10 of the report).  Members were informed that Charlotte Brennan was now the dedicated S106 Officer and regularly liaised with Finance to check that all income due had been raised and confirmed the balances that were still available to spend.

 

Appendices attached to the report included the S106 funds spreadsheet that highlighted how much S106 Agreement funding had been collected and where it had and could be spent.  The remaining appendix, Appendix B, was the actual application form that the Town and Parish Councils were required to complete.

 

Councillor Kybird had asked for the S106 Agreement report to be discussed at an Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting as he had concerns as to whether the S106 process for deciding where the monies should be spent was, as far as he was concerned, consistent and transparent.  Members were informed that Parish and Town Councils were able to put their views forward as a standard consultee but it needed to be evidence led, the transparency concern would be taken on board.

 

Referring to the spreadsheet, Councillor Kybird asked if the sums remaining, if not used by the dates shown, would be returned to the developer.  The Executive Director of Place explained that S106 monies were actively monitored and most were spent within the time limit.  There were two cases that he knew of that were going beyond the specified time limit that the applicants had agreed to extend. 

 

Councillor Bowes asked if Members could be updated on the S106 monies available in their Wards.  The Executive Director of Place said that this information was already shared with the Town Councils.  The Chairman asked if it could be uploaded onto the intranet so that it was readily available for all Members to view.

 

Councillor Dimoglou remembered a few that had come close to the date during his time as a Cabinet Member and was reassured that it was being monitored by a dedicated Officer.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

11/19

Unsightly Sites (Agenda item 11)

To receive a presentation from the Communities and Environmental Services Manager.

Minutes:

A presentation was provided by Stephen James, the Communities and Environmental Services Manager. 

 

Cabinet had asked the Overview & Scrutiny Commission to take the lead on this matter and report any un-slightly sites in the Breckland area that were causing a detrimental impact on community well-being to the Communities and Environmental Services Manager. 

 

Since March 2017, 58 sites had been identified out of which 14 had seen some improvement without going through an enforcement process. Slides were shown of the improvements carried out in Thetford, Watton and Swaffham.

 

The Communities and Environmental Services Manager shared some of the difficulties and challenges Officers faced when dealing with these unsightly sites.  Some could be resource intensive particularly when dealing with the historic and complex sites that could lead to the legal team being involved. The first stage of the process was to engage with the owners; however, some owners had no intention of doing anything with the sites/land that they were responsible for. 

 

On-going cases were highlighted some of which were quite complex and the progress that had been made was reported.

 

Councillor Crawford had noticed works being carried out on St Mary the Less Church on Bury Road in Thetford and asked if it was Breckland Council who had brought that forward.  It was noted that Andrew Gayton, the Historic Buildings Officer, had been involved in this case for many years due to the historic nature of the site.  The Communities and Environmental Services Manager explained that although the process seemed very long winded, Members were assured that it was not always the fault of the Council.

 

Councillor Jermy sympathised with the hard work involved but felt that this was a huge opportunity to get rid of these unsightly sites and anymore that could turn up in the future.  He mentioned the Flagship case studies that formed part of the presentation and felt that these should be used as examples to affect change. In response, the Communities and Environmental Services Manager agreed with this approach as it would enable people to see what was going to happen with these unsightly sites and prove that the Council was trying its hardest to address these issues.<1>

 

Councillor Clarke was pleased to hear that the unsightly site in Dereham was finally being addressed as it was having an adverse effect on the area and the building was hard to let.  As it stood, it could put people off visiting the town which would then have a knock on affect to the Council’s Market Town Initiative.  He mentioned the pigeon problem too in the town but applauded all Officers involved in the process.  The Chairman reminded Members of the budget that was now available for the unsightly site process.

 

Councillor Dimoglou also congratulated the Team and he hoped that it would be resourced accordingly.  He also wanted to see more regimented policies coming through for such matters.

 

Councillor Wilkinson had a lot of sympathy for the Officers carrying out this work but wanted to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11/19

12/19

Amendments to the Breckland Housing Allocations policy (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Report of the Executive Member for Growth, Councillor Gordon Bambridge.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Gordon Bambridge, the Executive Member for Growth presented the report which concerned proposed amendments to the Council’s Housing Allocations Policy.

 

Breckland Council’s current Housing Allocations Policy was last reviewed and adopted by the authority in 2016.  The Policy sets out who was eligible to apply for housing and then set out an approach to the prioritisation of eligible households.

 

The Council’s current Housing Allocations Policy stated that affordable housing within the Breckland district be ring-fenced for households with a local connection to the District as a whole, and that priority for housing be awarded to local households in the highest housing need.  The only exception to this was for homes developed on ‘exception sites’, whereby homes were developed on small sites in response to the identification of a locally rising need for additional affordable housing.  In this scenario, homes built on exception sites were typically prioritised for households with a connection to the parish where the homes had been built, over and above those who did not have a connection to the parish.

 

Separately to the processes relating to the housing allocations, a number of local communities across Breckland were developing Neighbourhood Plans.  As Members were aware, the Neighbourhood Planning process had been developed by Government as a means of providing local communities with the opportunity to shape development in their areas.  It was common place for Neighbourhood Plans to include policies on matters relating to design, amenity space and the location of development with settlements.  However, an increasingly common ask by local communities developing Neighbourhood Plans was for a proportion of affordable housing delivered on sites allocated by the District Council (through the Local Plan process) to be prioritised for households with a local connection to that specific development area featured within Neighbourhood Plans related to affordable housing.

 

The amendment, if adopted, would enable additional preference to be given to applicants with a local connection to the parish, rather than just the District, in relation to sites being allocated over and above those already allocated in the District Council’s Local Plan.

 

The proposed amendment to the Council’s Housing Allocations Policy had been considered previously by the Overview & Scrutiny Commission at its meeting on 8 November 2018.  Following a detailed discussion, Members requested that Officers returned to a future meeting as a means of providing clarity on a number of points raised by the Committee.  The two key points raised had been as follows:

 

·        That further consideration be given as to whether the policy amendment should be amended in order to enable the parish local connection requirement to apply to lettings ‘in perpetuity’ – as opposed to simply applying on ‘first let’.

·        Whether it would be possible to apply a parish local connection requirement to all sites in all parishes in the District, regardless of whether a Neighbourhood Plan was in place.

 

Councillor Bambridge advised that having given further consideration to the Policy, it was now being proposed that the Policy proceed to public consultation on the basis of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12/19

13/19

Task and Finish Groups (Agenda item 13)

To consider reports from Task & Finish Group Chairmen in respect of the following meetings:

13/19a

Findings from OSC Task & Finish Group - Impact of Fly-tipping pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Jermy, the Chairman of the Task & Finish Group, thanked the Members for their time spent on this matter of fly-tipping, meeting on three occasions during the autumn of 2018.  He also thanked the Officers involved who contributed the meetings as well as the external guests that had attended.

 

Councillor Jermy would have preferred Members of the T&F Group to scrutinise the report prior to it being presented to the Commission; however, he felt that all involved now had a better understanding of fly-tipping issues.

 

Officers had been able to confirm that all Councils across Norfolk were working together to tackle fly-tipping and that the materials being used for the county-wide campaign had been based on best practice in other counties.

 

The Norfolk Scrap campaign had recently been launched by Norfolk County Council and the Norfolk Waste Enforcement Group (NWEG) had been tasked with dealing with the increased activity; an Officer from Breckland Council was a member of this Group.

 

Members were informed that communication was key and the function on the Council’s website that allowed residents to upload photos as well as map locations had increased the speed at which fly tips were responded to and also allowed the evidence used to pursue the individual for the offence.

 

Councillor Wilkinson was aware of the problems that Breckland District was having with fly-tipping and suggested that the information gathered should be forwarded to Norfolk County Council.  The Chairman concurred with this suggestion but felt that a letter should be sent to Norfolk County Council informing them about these findings and a watching brief be kept on all activity.  She also suggested that a further report be brought back to an Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting in 6 months.

 

The Chairman thanked Councillor Jermy, Members and the Officers involved for the comprehensive report.

 

RESOLVED that a progress report be brought back to the Overview & Scrutiny Commission in 6 months.

14/19

Member Induction Programme (Agenda item 14) pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Member Induction programme attached for information. 

Minutes:

Rory Ringer, the Democratic Services Manager presented this item.

 

A Member Induction Programme had been produced following feedback from the Member Development Panel.

 

The programme started with an Induction Day on Tuesday, 7 May 2019 which would be kept short so not to overwhelm new members, training sessions had been duplicated to allow flexibility and maximum attendance.  Specific workshops would be held for Members of Committees, such as Planning, Licensing and Governance & Audit as part of a legal requirement.

 

Overview & Scrutiny would also have a specific workshop to focus on questioning skills and the role of Scrutiny itself.

 

E-Learning would be pushed forward to eliminate or reduce the use of paper.

 

Personal Development Plans would be produced by Breckland Training Services following interviews with each Member and would form the basis of the Member Training Programme going forward.

 

All new Members would receive Ward packs, created to explain the demographics for each Ward, plus Member Information packs (all would be sent electronically where possible).

 

Further work would continue to develop the programme and a final programme would be issued with the nomination packs that would be given to all candidates in March/April 2019.  It would also be given to each elected candidate as part of their welcome pack.

 

The Chairman felt that speaking into the microphones at meetings should be added as part of the training too.

 

Councillor Jermy pointed out that the matter of issuing the IT equipment was discussed at the Member Development Panel specifically to reduce the rush following the Elections.  He also felt that once the person(s) became an official candidate they should be directed to the website as a great deal of information about the Council was readily available.  The Democratic Services Manager advised that issuing of the IT equipment had been considered but it was felt not to be such a good idea until after the Election.

 

Councillor Richmond asked if new Members would be supported by mentors as he found the benefits of having mentor to be invaluable when he was first elected.  Members were informed that Karen Hitchcock, the Learning & Development Officer would be emailing Members asking them if they wanted to take on the role of being a mentor to newly elected Members. 

 

Councillor Bowes asked if twin-hatters would be receiving Breckland iPads as she did not believe it was necessary as they would be supplied with IT equipment by Norfolk County Council.  The Democratic Services Manager advised that the IT team were aware of this, but he would discuss this further with Jason Tillyard, the IT Manager.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

15/19

Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item) (Agenda item 15)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Kybird mentioned the Norfolk Museum Service preview of the new Viking Exhibition which would run until the middle of September 2019.  He encouraged Members to attend.

 

Councillor Wilkinson would be attending the Youth Advisory Board conference being held on 21 February 2019 at the Abbey Centre, the former Colman’s site in Norwich, facilitated by Breckland YAB.

 

He also mentioned the Norfolk & Waveney Health survey which was still running and encouraged all Members to take part by visiting the website: www.healthwatchnorfolk.uk

16/19

Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item) (Agenda item 16)

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

Minutes:

None.

17/19

Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item) (Agenda item 17)

To consider any references.

Minutes:

None.

18/19

Work Programme (Agenda item 18) pdf icon PDF 63 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:

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that the next meeting could be a one item agenda.  A pre-meeting would take place and lunch would be ordered.

 

Councillor Jermy asked if the briefing paper could be circulated to Members prior to the pre-meeting. 

 

The Executive Director of Place asked Members to let him know if there was anything they wanted to be included in the briefing paper.  The Chairman asked the Executive Director of Place to attend the pre-meeting.

 

A fly-tipping update would be added to the work programme for the O&SC meeting in July.

19/19

Next Meeting (Agenda item 19)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Tuesday 19 March 2019 at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.

 

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 at 2pm in the Anglia Room were noted.