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 225 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 26 May 2022.


The minutes of the meeting held on 26 May 2022 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 Jermy and Clarke. There were no substitutes in attendance.


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.





Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

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


The Chairman gave permitted Councillor Eagle to address members present on a non-agenda item of significance in relation to recent events.


The lack of rain and soaring temperatures over the past few weeks had cumulated in raging fires across the county destroying farmland, fields, trees and in the most tragic of circumstances, homes. The Norfolk Fire service had declared a major incident due to the huge surge in demand caused by the heat. There had been a particularly critical incident in and around the village of Ashill which lasted for many hours and caused a great deal of devastation.


Councillor Eagle conveyed his thanks to everyone involved including the Fire Service, Police, St Johns Ambulance, Lowland Rescue and in particular to Breckland Council’s Chief Executive, Maxine O’Mahoney, Executive Director, Jason Cole and the Housing Manager Gill Duffy who were at the scene until after 1am the following morning.


Around ten houses had been completely destroyed and others suffered smoke and water damage. An appeal had been launched and Ashill Community Centre had been inundated with items to assist those in need and a ‘JustGiving’ page had been started to raise donations for further assistance. Cllr Eagle stated that it had been tremendously heart-warming to see everyone pull together at a time of need. Further thanks were also conveyed to the Fire Services of Merseyside and Tyne and Wear who had also attended the scene to assist.


Councillor Nairn endorsed all that had been said and also conveyed his thanks to the Fire Service from Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk, who had assisted with a recent fire in Weeting, and had worked together to bring the blaze under control. Additionally, he also thanked Breckland Council’s Environmental Health Team who had been on site to ensure the clean-up was done correctly.


Councillor Wilkinson expressed his appreciation and gratitude to Councillor Eagle for being on scene during the fire in Ashill. This had been an unprecedented situation for a Ward Member to be in and a disaster for all concerned and he felt that it had been extremely commendable for Councillor Eagle to step up and do what a Ward Member should and be involved to help residents wherever possible.


Cllr Turner agreed and conveyed her thanks to all concerned.


The Chairman and all Members of the Commission wanted their formal thanks and appreciation to be conveyed to all those involved in helping communities in need both across Norfolk and nationally.


Visit of Police, Crime Commissioner

To meet the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Giles Orpen-Smellie.


The Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Giles Orpen-Smellie explained the role and responsibilities of the PCC stating that it needed to deliver an efficient and effective Police Force for the County. In terms of policing, he had the authority to hire, and if necessary, fire the Chief Constable and also to set the strategic priorities for the policing in Norfolk. There was a distinct separation of responsibilities, the Chief Constable and the police’s operational independence was protected in law, so the PCC had no operational control in that area. The PCC’s operational priorities dealt with overarching strategic matters.


The PCC held the budget for the Police, which, in this current year, had been £197m, and was the key lever for the PCC, as the public’s elected representative, to steer the Police in tackling the priorities that the residents of Norfolk felt were important. The PCC held the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public to achieve this against the Strategic Police and Crime Plan and through the budget.


The crime part of the role was extremely diverse and unlimited as it was about crime prevention, supporting victims of crime, rehabilitating offenders, and community safety.  Amanda Murr, Head of the Community Safety Team was also in attendance The PCC explained that Norfolk was a unique county in that it was the only county nationally who had a single community safety partnership across all seven of the local authorities which had an advantage in that it was chaired by the PCC’s Chief Executive, who worked closely together to streamline services to accomplish results.


The PCC was also responsible for criminal justice within the county and was also the Chairman on the Norfolk and Suffolk Criminal Justice Board. He was also the national lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners for Police ethics and transparency, and the Eastern Region’s representative on the Strategic Board of the National Police Air Service.


Norfolk was a very safe county based on statistics published and currently sat within the bottom third in most categories. However, this was not taken for granted as it had only been achieved through the incredible hard work of the constabulary and its partners. Across the county there were 1800 Police Officers and at any one time about 200 officers on duty. Routinely they would deal with about 250 x emergency 999 calls and 750 x non-emergency 101 calls per day. With the recent issues in respect of the unusual dry hot weather, the 999 calls had increased to over five hundred per day and the 101 calls well over a thousand per day and with the priority being focussed on 999 calls the Police were currently working flat out. Norfolk’s population was increasing, and crime becoming more complex with many issues not reported and remaining behind closed doors such as domestic abuse and drugs.


The first duty of the Police was to protect life and currently the greatest risk to life in the county was mental  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50/22


Q1 performance report pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Report of Councillor Jane James, Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services.

Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Service, Councillor Jane James introduced the Performance Overview Report – Quarter 1 2022/23 for the period 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2022.


Councillor Birt stated that at the previous meeting it had been confirmed that further information would be sent to Members after the meeting, yet he had not received anything. The Innovation and Change Business Partner, Ryan Pack confirmed that this information had been sent out to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission outlook address group and other Members had confirmed receipt of the information. This would be investigated outside of the meeting.


The Innovation and Change Business Partner pointed out that at the time of publication of the report the electricity usage figures had not been received from the supplier and it was therefore verbally confirmed that the usage had been 215,006kWh which was down about 19,000kWh compared to Q1 on the previous year and down approximately 76,000 compared to Q4 of 21/22. The percentage of planned works update for Members was not available at this time. Some details needed to be checked but it was hoped that the commercial property debt would be available in the report for the October meeting.


Councillor Birt asked about the timely receipt of data to the Commission specifically related to commercial debt and asked if it could be presented to the Commission in its early stages.


After much discussion the Chairman asked Members if they would like an item on commercial debt included within the quarterly report.


Councillor Kybird suggested that if such matters were going to be monitored by the Commission, parameters should be set so that it would be a by exception report rather than a regular quarterly report.


It was agreed that a ‘by exception’ report would suffice.


The Innovation and Change Business Partner confirmed that he would email the Commission with the information and would take this request to Cabinet to add to the Performance Report.


With regard to bin collections on page 23 of the report, Councillor Birt felt that this figure should be red, as 94.14% was more than slightly below the target of 98% and asked if Serco were being fined for the unsuccessful collection rate.  The Innovation and Change Business Partner said he would find out from the Environmental Services Team and report back to the Commission.


Councillor Turner explained that at a Serco Task and Finish Group meeting the officers had explained that it was not in Serco’s best interest to attract fines for breach of KPIs. Where bins had been missed or collected late through circumstances beyond Serco’s control Breckland Council would have discussions with Serco to confirm the situation as a fine in some situations may not be the best way forward.


Councillor Birt had concerns over the continued poor performance of the Contact Centre and asked for more detailed information and statistics on the abandoned rate and call-back requests.


The Customer Experience Manager, Adele Newsome confirmed that she would provide  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51/22


Task and Finish Groups

To receive a report from the Chairman of the Task & Finish Group for the Serco Contract.


Councillor Turner explained that the Serco Task and finish Group last met on 14 July where it had been hoped to finalise a report for this Overview and Scrutiny meeting. However, a number of mitigating circumstances had prevailed, and Members had felt that there had not been enough information to finalise the report.   It had therefore been agreed that the T&F Group should meet again on 26 July 2022 to finalise the report so that it would be fit for purpose and presented to the Overview & Scrutiny Commission meeting in October.


Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.



Councillor Kybird stated that the Norfolk Records Office meeting scheduled for 22 July 2022 had been cancelled.


The Norfolk Joint Museums meeting, scheduled for 22 July 2022 contained two items affecting Breckland Council.  The first was to support an expression of interest to the Heritage Lottery Fund for Thetford Town Council for a Heritage Master Plan with Norfolk Museums listed as a partner. The second item was for the Joint Museum Committee to support the Museums Service in respect of starting a project enquiry form to the National Heritage Lottery Fund to explore funding opportunities to increase the Duleep Singh interpretation at the Ancient House Museum in Thetford to align with the 100th anniversary of the opening of the museum.


With regard to the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny meeting, once the outcomes from the recent meeting had been issued, these would be circulated to the Members of the Commission.


As a Trustee of the Hammond Educational Trust, Councillor Wickerson reminded Members of the special Platinum Jubilee £10,000 bursary and stated that one applicant had been awarded £3,000 butt there was still £7,000 available and encouraged Members to publicise and circulate the information within their Wards.


Councillor Wilkinson, as Breckland Council’s representative and Governor on the Board at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn stated that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay had visited the hospital and opened the new eye centre. There had been other clinics opened on site and it was hoped that these could offer the day care to alleviate pressure on GPs.


He then explained that the Breckland Youth Mental Health Project - Cup-O-T: Wellness and Therapy Services had been commissioned by Breckland Council and Breckland Youth Advisory Board to deliver support for young people and their families who were on mental health waiting lists. The project had been running from October 2021 to September 2022 and had so far worked with 54 families during that time.



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.


Councillor Nairn had concerns over the lack of NHS dental care within Breckland and across Norfolk. The dental practice in Watton was not now accepting any new NHS patients and another dentist had recently left the practice. The existing NHS patients had not been transferred to another dentist within the practice. As far as he was aware, there were no other dentists accepting NHS patients within the Breckland area and private dentistry work remained extremely expensive. Similarly, there had been a lack of GP appointments available, and he felt that such matters were now approaching a crisis point and felt that the situation should be investigated on behalf of residents to establish what action could be taken.


Councillor Kybird pointed out that this had been discussed at the recent NCC Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and said that there had been an opportunity to tender bids for a dental practice in Thetford, but none had been received. One of the key issues with regard to rural practices was that they had been that based on a national model and required practices to be open from 8am until 8pm which would not be practicable in rural areas; however, he felt that if this was done through a Councillor Call for Action it should be through the Eastern Region Commissioners.


Councillor Wilkinson said that he had experienced the same issues with complaints from residents and felt that this was a national issue and had been discussed in Parliament recently and the Commission could possibly add weight to this debate.


Councillor Kybird said that he would check the responses and outcomes from the NCC Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and follow up with writing to the Minister to see if a response had been received and reconsider a call for action at that point.


Councillor Nairn confirmed that this was acceptable and would await the outcome before deciding a course of action.


There had been no update as this point with regard to the previous call for action from Councillor Nairn on the issues with grass cutting by NCC. The Democratic Services was asked to chase this action.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 142 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:


It was agreed to move the report of the OSC Task and Finish Group- Serco Contract to the October meeting.


The Chairman suggested the review of the IT infrastructure be scheduled for the December meeting.


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 8 September 2022 at 10.00am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Centre, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE.



The arrangements for the next meeting on Thursday, 8 September 2022 at 10am in the Anglia Room were noted.