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 163 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 16 December 2021.


The minutes of the meeting held on 16 December 2021 were agreed as a correct record.


Apologies and Substitutes

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


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bushell, Kybird, Martin and Nairn. Councillor Wilkinson was in attendance as a substitute.


Chairman's Announcements (if any)


In response to an issue raised from a Councillor Call for Action, at an Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting on 3 December 2020, where Members had voiced concerns over Banham Poultry and possible breaches in Environmental Protection laws, the Chairman read the following statement:


With regards to the investigation by the Environmental Agency which are bringing charges in the Chelmsford magistrates court (currently listed for 03 March 2022) for the following charges filed with the courts;


  1. Between 16 January 2019 and 29 September 2021, Banham Poultry (2018) Limited (company number: 11606211) at Station Road, Attleborough, NR17 2AT, are alleged to breach Condition 3.3.1 of their environmental permit (permit number: EPR/KP3132QV) in failing to keep activities free from odour at levels likely to cause pollution outside the site, as perceived by an authorised officer of the Environment Agency, by failing to use appropriate measures to prevent, or where that is not practicable, to minimise, the odour. Contrary to Regulation 38(2) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. 


  1. On 08 May 2021, Banham Poultry (2018) Limited (company number: 11606211) of Station Road, Attleborough, NR17 2AT, are alleged to have failed to comply with the requirements of an enforcement notice dated 06 April 2021 issued under Regulation 36 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, requiring the steps in the said notice to be taken. Contrary to Regulation 38(3) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.


Further information would be made available after the Hearing.



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.






Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

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





Draft budget setting, Medium Term Financial Plan and Capital Strategy 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 242 KB

Report of Councillor Phillip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits.

Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits, Councillor Cowen, explained that the draft budget had been presented to Cabinet on 10 January 2022, he felt it was testament to the diligent work that Breckland Council had undertaken during the pandemic and particularly over the last 12 months. 


In summary he drew attention to the following key points, he explained that this was a balanced budget for the coming year set against continued uncertainty around Government funding, potential central policies and fees and charging income streams. He stated that in order to maintain services, deliver on core strategies and initiatives and support residents and businesses the budget proposed an increase in Council Tax, for a Band D property, of £4.95 per year, less than 10p increase per week. The final budget proposals would be put before Cabinet and Full Council in February.


Councillor Cowen said that there was no doubt that Breckland Council would face challenges in the future as a result of widely trailed Central Government Policies surrounding for example recycling provisions and the Environment Bill. Similarly, there was a significant risk associated with the National Non-Domestic Rate (NNDR) and it’s reset that would change the baseline funding level and the team had identified this risk in the budget preparations as having an impact in either the years 2023/24 or 2024/25 and perhaps beyond.


Councillor Cowen explained that Government had provided a further £830,000 of New Homes Bonus (NHB), and that this had been posted to the inclusive growth reserve to enable Breckland Council to maintain delivery of projects and programmes. As a result of the continuing impact of Covid-19 the Council had amended and refined efficiency requirements and as a result of that the Evolve Programme had been developed that would help to offset the anticipated budget deficits in the immediate future.


To conclude Councillor Cowen stated that the draft budget had been based on the following principles:


·         Breckland Council had no reliance on NHB funding

·         Breckland Council could and would maintain service delivery

·         Breckland Council would continue to invest in its priorities, Thriving Places, Breckland 2035, Working Smarter and Inspiring Communities

·         Breckland Council had reserves that would be used to provide financial support for projects that led to growth and investment and/or achieve savings or income

·         Breckland Council has put in place an achievable efficiencies programme to assist in the management of future funding changes and financial risks

·         Breckland Council had increased the Council Tax hardship fund by £35,000 this year



Councillor Birt asked where the funding was for Carbon Efficiency as he felt there were some large projects that needed to be addressed, he could not see that funding had been set aside to achieve this.


The Executive Director, Steve James said that Breckland Council had previously set aside £500,000 in its’ reserve to undertake evidence-based analysis of its buildings and carbon footprint alongside other sustainability projects. He further explained that the Evolve Programme also had a strand of funding to look at solar and renewable energy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/21


Q3 Performance report pdf icon PDF 208 KB

Report of Councillor Mark Robinson, Executive Member for Customer, Digital and Performance.


Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Customer, Digital and Performance, Councillor Mark Robinson introduced the Performance Overview for quarter three which was the first time the new suite of indicators would be discussed at this Commission and thanked Members for their feedback as part of the improvement process. He stated that there were some gaps in the report which would be explained but felt that it was important that the Commission could carry out its scrutiny role as soon as possible after the end of quarter three.


There had been strong performances in the last quarter in the Planning and Statutory Information Teams who performed at or above their target for this quarter. Under the Customer Contact Indicators, it now included wait times and abandoned rates for the quarter. Whilst it was disappointing not to be performing at target in this area it was encouraging to see continued improvements within the service. Whilst there was still work to do, the projection was that improvement would be seen gradually in this service as a result of the service review last year.


Appendix B in the pack related to the Covid based performance indicator. As well as providing an update on the current state of the district. The inclusion of this information was due to the Council’s commitment to Covid work in its Corporate Plan and therefore made sense to bring this forward now alongside the new suite of indicators. The Council continued to feed into and support the work of the resilience forum within the district including the communities team supporting pop up vaccination centres in areas where the vaccine uptake was lower than elsewhere.


The Innovation and Change Business Partner, Ryan Pack explained the gaps in the report were due to the timescale of the publishing of the report and the information not being available at that time. He said that they were waiting for some information around bin collections and planning extensions and said he would email the Scrutiny Commission once that information was available.


Councillor Birt was pleased to see energy usage figures now being included within the report which would be useful in the future to monitor carbon reduction. He noted the reason why the energy figures did not include the Leisure Centres but asked if some impact rating could be included. He also asked if street lighting could be included. The Innovation and Change Business Partner confirmed he would look into this.


Councillor Birt was very pleased to note that the Council had met their obligations with Freedom of Information enquiries at 100%, however he felt this, and the complaints calculations could be better understood if it showed the quotient and the dividend.


Councillor Morton was also pleased to see the energy usage figures included but asked if these could be backdated to show the same quarter the previous year in order that any developing trends could be spotted. The Innovation and Change Business Partner confirmed this could be included.


Members of the Commission noted the report.



Breckland 2035 Sustainability Programme Update

To receive a presentation on the Breckland 2035 Sustainability Programme.


The Executive Member for People, Communications and Governance, Councillor Sherwood, explained that in the absence of the Head of Strategic Policy, the Executive Director, Steve James would provide the presentation. Breckland Council had spent the time required for base lining and to find out where things were as a Council to ensure the right projects were done at the right time. He felt that this had to be done with the right outside organisations and by listening to those organisations to understand what affects certain changes would have.


The Executive Director, Steve James said he was enthused and excited to be a part of this strategy and moving it forward to progress Breckland Council’s ambitions. One of which was the commitment to achieve net zero as an organisation by 2035.


The Executive Director explained the WorkSmart project which had included improvements to lighting at Elizabeth House which would result in a reduction of 24.5 tonnes of carbon per annum. He said that the team had commissioned Southeast Energy Hub to deliver a high-level analysis on both Elizabeth House and Breckland House about the viability of solar or heating options and had procured NPS Property consultants to carry out more detailed technical studies to understand whether delivery was possible on improved insulation, solar and heating options. The Executive Director said that this was important to give an evidence base and an understanding of the current position that would enable Breckland Council to deliver a pipeline of projects and bid for future grant fundings and a detailed carbon reduction plan for the operational buildings.


With regard to electric vehicles, 4 additional charging points were set to be delivered in Swaffham, at Theatre Street car park and a study had been undertaken of Breckland Council owned car parks which had identified seven potential sites for additional charging units to be installed including Elizabeth House, Breckland House and the first potential chargers in Watton. Through the Green Grants scheme Breckland Council was enabling the delivery of two charging units at Croxton Village Hall and was working with other Parish Councils to support them to deliver charging units in their Parish.


The Executive Director said that the team had worked with the Woodland Trust who had assessed 8 sites owned by Breckland Council. Five of these sites had been identified as suitable for planting trees and three of those sites were due to be delivered by the end of March 2022.


Councillor Wickerson asked for more information on the 24.5 tonnes of carbon reduction at Elizabeth House and asked how it reflected as a percentage overall which would give Members an idea of how much that had impacted the building as a whole and also asked for a list of the 5 sites that the Woodland Trust had identified.


Councillor Sherwood said he would be happy to provide the list of sites once the Towns and Parishes themselves had been informed as this was yet to happen and then the information would be released. He  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9/21


Task and Finish Groups

To receive an update from the Task & Finish Group Chairman in respect of the following:


·         Serco Task & Finish Group


The Chairman of the Serco Task & Finish Group. Councillor Turner, informed Members that she had met with the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission along with key officers and discussed a purpose and the desired outcomes of the Task & Finish Group.


It had been agreed that there would be six meetings approximately six weeks apart culminating in a summary of outcomes and any recommendations. The first meeting, scheduled for 23 February 22 at 2pm in the Woodpecker Room, would include the parameters of the Task & Finish Group which would include the following three areas:


·         To scrutinise the current performance of the Serco contract

·         To examine the impact of Covid and the National supply chain issues on the mobilisation of the contract

·         To examine the governance arrangements in place to manage and monitor the contract


Where considered appropriate, other professionals would be invited to participate and to attend the final meeting prior to the report being written and presented to the Commission later in the year. Serco, the responsible Cabinet Member and Contract Managers would also be invited to attend the Overview and Scrutiny Commission when the report would be presented.




Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.





Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)

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





Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)

To consider any references.





Work Programme pdf icon PDF 156 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 Jermy asked for more information and an update on the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel and progress since a lot of public-facing services had been closed. The Chairman suggested that Councillor Bambridge, as the Breckland Council representative on the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel, should be invited to the next Overview & Scrutiny meeting on the 10 March 2022 to give an update to the Commission and to discuss a possible invite to the Norfolk PCC later in the year.


The Chairman suggested that once the Carbon Footprint report had been published in March and October, Councillor Sherwood be invited to update the Commission on progress.


The Chairman asked for investigations to be continued to invite UKPN and Anglian Water and hoped this could be achieved for May or July.




Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Thursday 10 March 2022 at 10.00am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Centre, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.



The arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 10 March 2022 at 10am in the Anglia Room were noted.