Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Breckland Conference Centre, Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870


No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2021.


The minutes from the meeting held on 9 September 2021 were confirmed as a correct record.


Apologies and Substitutes

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


Apologies had been received from Councillors Turner and Bushell. Councillors Askew and Wilkinson were in attendance as their substitutes.


Chairman's Announcements (if any)




Urgent Business

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

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.



None declared.


Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

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


Councillor Atterwill informed the Chair that there were members of the public in attendance who wished to speak at the meeting on the Local Plan Review.


Inspiring Communities Update

To receive a presentation from Stephen James, Assistant Director, Housing & Communities and Samantha Armitage, Community Services Manager.


The Community Services Manager, Samantha Armitage gave a presentation on Inspiring Communities and explained the scope of the programme, how decisions were made and how Members could be involved.


The Community Services Manager explained how Inspiring Communities had been set up with a community-led approach for the prevention of vulnerability within Breckland and that Breckland Council would collectively lead, enable and support a district-wide initiative to help its residents.


The vision was to inspire communities to enhance the lives of Breckland residents through strategic partnerships; early intervention services and community funding with a specific aim of making a positive impact on those affected by Domestic Abuse; Mental Health issues; Social Isolation, Loneliness and County Lines. The team had researched what mattered to the local communities across Breckland, the issues that were being faced and agreed what to prioritise and focus on. The Community Services Manager said that Breckland was a safe, healthy and prosperous place to live and work but that some residents were vulnerable and needed assistance.


The Community Services Manager stated that under their four priorities, so far Breckland Council had delivered the following:


County Lines:


·         Funded ANPR Cameras

·         Funded an improved Search Facility at Wayland Prison

·         A Contextual Safeguarding Locality Plan with NCCSP was being developed


Domestic Abuse:


·         Funded an Early Help Support worker for th3e Daisy Programme

·         Developed an internal Domestic Abuse Commitment

·         Signed up to H.E.A.R (Help, Educate, Awareness and Respond), a joint campaign between the Police, Crime and Commissioners Office and Norfolk County Council


Mental Health:


·         Funded Breckland Mental Health Community Partnership

·         Co-designed Mindful Towns and Villages project

·         Funded Breckland Youth Advisory Board Mental Health partnership


Social Isolation & Loneliness:


·         Direct funding and delivery of Silver Social

·         Commissioned to deliver Social Prescribing Service by Mid-Norfolk PCN (spanned wider than Social Isolation & Loneliness but was a vital service to help prevent)


The Community Services Manager also explained how decisions were made and what criteria and evidence would be investigated to base the decisions on. The Inspiring Communities Fund was a match funding scheme providing grants of up to £5,000 for community projects in the Breckland district and applicants could expect a maximum of 50% of the total project costs. The scheme was administered by Norfolk Community Foundation.


The team were currently working on providing a brochure and/or leaflets to list all of the services available that Members could to, to enable them to support their communities which would be made available in due course.


Councillor Eagle felt it was prudent to get the balance right for all ages with a mixture of capital projects in addition to support for social gatherings.


Councillor Jermy felt that sustainability would be key for the continuation of the project and that evidence base would be crucial to fund the right projects in the right way. He also felt that as a Member of Breckland Council, he would very much like to be involved in understanding how Members identified priorities and how they could be involved in shaping what was happening  ...  view the full minutes text for item 90/21


Chairman's Panel pdf icon PDF 391 KB

To receive a report from Simon Wood, Director of Planning & Building Control.



The Director of Planning and Building Control, Simon Wood, advised Members of the role of the Chairman’s Panel and the planning application process. The Chairman’s Panel had been introduced in August 2019 after the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) undertook a review of the Planning Committee at Breckland Council in 2018. One of the recommendations of the PAS was for Breckland Council to review its delegation and call-in process and had advised to reduce the number of items going to Committee.


All call-in applications now went to the Chairman’s Panel as well as the more contentious and significant applications. There was also the facility, following due process, for applications, where it was considered appropriate to do so, to by-pass the Panel and go direct to the Planning Committee.


The reasons behind the formation of the Chairman’s Panel were:


·         To provide a transparent and clear system whereby applications could be taken to the Planning Committee through the Member call-in process or the Executive Director of Place and Delivery, in discussion with the Chairman of Planning, to exercise the ability to call-in applications that raised significant issues to Committee, and

·         To reduce the number of items on the Planning Committee agenda to enable shorter more focussed meetings to determine the most significant applications.


The Director of Planning and Building Control advised that this was a virtual process which all Members were invited to attend and as such had enabled the call-in process to become more transparent and robust.


A call-in request must be made on the prescribed form and must be received within 23 days from the publication of an application on the weekly list, which all Members received. All call-in requests were discussed at the Chairman’s Panel; it was not a decision-making body but was there to recommend the route an application should take based on its significance. The decision to take an application to Committee or allow it to be determined by the delegated process was then made by the Director of Place and Delivery, or his delegated representative, after having regard to the views of the Panel.


It was felt that the process was now much more transparent, and all meetings were recorded. 


It was considered that the Chairman’s Panel had been a successful response to the issues set out within the PAS review. It had provided a more democratic process around call-ins providing Members with the ability to make their case directly to the Panel and it had also reduced the number of items going to Planning Committee which enabled the Committee to focus on significant and contentious applications without the pressure of a large agenda.


Councillor Wilkin, the Chairman of the Planning Committee for a number of years felt that the introduction of the Chairman’s Panel had made the whole process more transparent.


Councillor Birt agreed that the primary objective of reducing the Planning Committee workload had been achieved and was, in his opinion, a great success. He asked how many observers on average attended the Chairman’s Panel  ...  view the full minutes text for item 91/21


Key Performance Indicator Proposal pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To receive a report from Mark Robinson, Executive Member for Customer, Digital & Performance and Ryan Pack, Innovation & Change Business Partner.


Additional documents:


Councillor Robinson, the Executive Member for Customer, Digital & Performance presented the report that recommended proposed changes to Key Performance Indicators for the upcoming 2021/22 performance cycle which if agreed, would be submitted to Cabinet for approval.


The Innovation and Change Business Partner, Ryan Pack said that there was a list of approximately 60 indicators which the team were seeking feedback on to reduce and that some of the satisfaction measures were not yet set in place so would not be included in the Q3 report.


Councillor Wickerson suggested that planning enforcement should also be included and added to the planning heading.


Councillor Birt agreed with the comments on page 19, para 1.5 where it stated that focusing on the wrong metrics or too many metrics could be detrimental, but also felt that a lack of focus or too few metrics could be detrimental too. He mentioned the climate emergency declaration made by Breckland Council and the fact that it had agreed to try to reach net zero by 2035 but felt that this required some form of carbon measuring to be put in place to be able to reach that target but could not see sight of any metrics on this. He had concerns that the right metrics were not in the right place to get to the core of the issue and to measure how this could be achieved.


Councillor Clarke felt that the Complaints KPI needed to be broken down further to show the types of complaints received. He also felt that measuring how KPIs related to risk was important.


Councillor Morton felt that Breckland Council should go back to the climate change report from earlier in the year and look at the recommendations to see what progress the Council was actually making, as this highlighted the large carbon emission buildings and as a minimum felt that this should be measured.


Councillor Jermy asked for reassurance that under the section relating to jobs supported, it was important that the field was not too narrow and that the range and type of jobs created was important and not just the number of jobs created.


The Chairman had some suggestions and amendments to the KPIs and felt that some could only be reported by exception which were:


·         page 23, Health and Safety Property Compliance, to be reported as an exception if there was a breach

·         Page 24 & 25, Silktide – Overall external score, and Overall internal score – this was an Executive Member role to ensure that the website was doing everything it should do

·         a combined figure should be seen on the amount of carbon reductions to ensure it was going down, rather than separate reports on the amount of carbon saved by staff, the emissions reduced from trees and the number of additional electric vehicle charging points delivered.

·         Facebook engagement and twitter engagement were not necessary to be included in the report

·         the number of staff who felt well supported by the Council could be included in an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 92/21


Q2 21/22 Performance report pdf icon PDF 207 KB

To receive a report from Mark Robinson, Executive Member for Customer, Digital & Performance and Ryan Pack, Innovation & Change Business Partner.


Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Customer, Digital and Performance, introduced the report for Quarter 2 which outlined the performance for the period 1 Jul 21 to 30 Sep 21. He said that the Contact Centre continued to work through a challenging period but that measures were in place, and it was hoped to see an improvement by quarter 3.


The Innovation, Change and Business Partner, pointed out that there had been a change in method and targets for the FOI reporting, which had resulted in a drop in performance. He also pointed out that although the Commercial Property Portfolio was showing as amber, it should in fact be showing as green based on the new target figures in place since the report was published.


Planning performance had fallen fairly significantly since the last quarter, but it was still above the annual target and would be monitored. In terms of housing, it was still showing a zero with regard to empty properties brought back into use by the Council, the reason for this was an increased demand for housing advice and the team were being utilised elsewhere to assist that peak in demand.


Councillor Jermy noted that there had been a decrease in the number of actual fly tips yet an increase in the tonnage which was a concern and felt that this directly related to the delay in Serco removing a reported fly tip and thus people adding their rubbish to it.


Councillor Birt said that the website reporting was still a concern as it used Google Analytics but was not on every page so the results, in his opinion, was not a true reflection. He felt that if these results continued to be included in the report it should be investigated further. He also felt that the FOI reporting still needed more work and thought that there was going to be something included to note response times as Breckland Council could still fall foul of the ICO for not responding quick enough.


The Innovation, Change and Business Partner noted the comments and confirmed that the website reporting was currently being investigated but remained at this time for continuity. He also confirmed that the FOI reporting could be re-visited.


Members of the Commission noted the report.


Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.



Councillor Wilkinson, as a Breckland Council representative on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn Committee, reported that they were trying to get onto the shortlist for a new hospital and were hopeful this would go ahead. The hospital was also utilizing government funding set aside for emergency repairs towards a new endoscopy unit which needed to be re-located due to necessary repairs within the hospital.


As a representative for Breckland Council and a member of the Youth Advisory Board, Councillor Wilkinson also reported that Breckland Council had funded £20,000 towards a Mental Health Support Programme to fill a gap to help and support residents in need from the point of diagnosis to getting professional help.


Councillor Wickerson, as a representative on The Hamond Educational Charity, reminded Members that the charity supported young people up to the age of 21 across the Breckland Council Authority area who were in need of financial assistance towards education or sport and to be mindful of this opportunity when assisting residents.


Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)

To consider the following decision called-in for scrutiny.


Call In: Local Plan Review pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To receive a report from Paul Claussen, Executive Member for Economic Development & Growth and Andrew Holdsworth, Assistant Director, Economy & Growth.


The reports that were discussed at Cabinet on 20 September and the Decision Notice are also attached.

Additional documents:


Councillor Atterwill thanked the Chairman for agreeing to his call-in request concerning the Cabinet decision on the Local Plan Review taken on 20 September 21.


He said that the decision had been taken without consultation with Council Members or the Local Plan Working Group and felt that the decision to take 6 years to complete the review would affect all Breckland Council’s Communities and in particular those Communities who had worked hard over several years to produce their own Neighbourhood Plans. Members of the Commission and all Town and Parish Councils had received an email statement from representatives of a number of Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Plan groups detailing their concerns about the proposed timetable.


Councillor Atterwill reminded Members that the review of the existing Local Plan should have been completed by November 2024, but the proposed timetable now set a review date of 2027 and felt that the resulting 3-year period beyond 2024 could see a number of Local Plan Policies carry less weight when determining planning applications. He also had concerns that this prolonged timetable could also mean that Neighbourhood Plan Policies would also carry less weight through no fault of the communities who had worked so hard to put their plans in place. For this reason, Councillor Atterwill requested that the Commission ask Cabinet to consider this reviewed timetable with a view to minimising its completion beyond 2024 in order to avoid any adverse impact on local communities.


Councillor Clarke supported the above comments and had particular concerns in respect of the design code and open space areas which he felt needed to have protection through the Local Plan.


Councillor Morton agreed with Councillor Atterwill and also had concerns on the timescale and financial shortfall involved with the Local Plan.


The Assistant Director Economy and Growth, Andrew Holdsworth, emphasised key points from the report. He explained that there had been a number of factors that had prevented the Local Plan from moving forward which had been externally influenced and national issues out of Breckland Council’s control. He stated that if Breckland Council had moved forward on the plan earlier then it would have been time wasted and at financial loss to the Council. It was now the right time to chart a course and were deeply motivated to ensure that Breckland Council continued to benefit from as much protection as possible. He also stated that consultation was key and having stakeholders’ input was primary to moving this forward.


The Director of Planning and Building Control, Simon Wood explained that the National Planning Guidance protected Neighbourhood Plans irrespective of whether the local authority had a five-year housing land supply or not and whether or not its policies were out of date and that Neighbourhood Plans were separate from that process and were protected. Breckland Council were still in support of neighbourhood planning and that it was not at threat. He also stated that they had started work on design codes and that they had appointed consultants to provide  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95/21a


Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)

To consider any references.




Work Programme pdf icon PDF 319 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:


Councillor Atterwill asked for an update on the Task and Finish Group to monitor the progress of the Serco Contract during its first year. In response, the Chairman advised that this would be added to the December agenda in order to set up and create this Group, Members of the Commission were asked to email the Chairman if they wished to be appointed to this Task & Finish Group.


Councillor Atterwill said that Councillor Turner had requested an agenda item to invite Anglian Water and UK Power Network to a meeting, to discuss practice for utility companies coping with demand with the introduction of future housing developments and contingencies in place for longer term for power, water and sewage. The Chairman agreed to add this to the agenda for the December meeting and invite Anglian Water and UK Power Network to attend.


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 16 December 2021 at 10am in the Anglia Room, Breckland Conference Centre, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.



The arrangements for the next meeting scheduled for Thursday 16 December at 10.00am in the Anglia Room were noted.