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 282 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 1 December 2022.


Subject to the following amendment, the minutes of the meeting held on 1 December 2022 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Amendment: Councillor Jane James was in attendance.


Apologies and Substitutes

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


Apologies were received from Councillor Robert Kybird, Councillor Robert Hambidge was in attendance as substitute.


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.


Norfolk County Council (NCC) had been invited to attend Overview & Scrutiny Commission to talk about decisions made and the way forward with Devolution within Norfolk and how it may affect services to residents across the county.


The Leader of NCC, Councillor Andrew Proctor made a short statement. The Government had set itself a mission that by 2030, every part of England that wanted a Devolution deal would have one with powers at or approaching the highest level of Devolution with a simplified long term funding settlement. The 2022 Levelling Up White Paper made clear the case for Devolution as the engine room for improved productivity and reduced regional disparities. He stated that Devolution would be critical to deliver the Governments twelve headline Levelling Up missions strengthening local leadership to act more flexibly and innovatively to respond to local need, whether on transport, skills, or regeneration.


In the White Paper, the Government published for the first time a devolution framework, which set out a clear menu of options for places in England that wished to unlock the benefits of devolution. This framework placed a strong emphasis on the importance of high profile, directly elected local leadership, strong local governance, and joint working across sensible and coherent economic geographies. The most comprehensive package was a Level 3 deal, for areas with a single institution over a sensible geography, with the strongest and most accountable leadership, such as a single county or unitary council with a directly elected leader, in this case this would be the leader of NCC. NCC wanted Devolution and it was excited for the future for residents.


The beginning of this transition started in Summer 2021 when NCC put in an expression of interest with central Government and had, over that time built up trust with ministers and officials with a clear desire of Government wanting to work with Norfolk and deliver Devolution. Norfolk remained one of nine Local Authorities progressing Devolution Deals. Through this deal there would be an opportunity to unlock significant long-term funding, gain greater freedom to decide how best to meet local needs and create new opportunities for the people who lived and worked in Norfolk. This would be a catalyst of change to build on strengths, address challenges, deliver infrastructure and grow the economy.


NCC would create a fully devolved funding programme covering all budgets for devolved functions (“Norfolk Investment Fund”), accountable to NCCNCC would use the Norfolk Investment Fund to deliver a programme of transformational long-term investment. The Government had agreed to allocate £20 million per annum for 30 years. It would provide an opportunity to unlock housing and employment sites with an injection of £12.9 million capital funding. It would strengthen the local business voice to inform local decision making and strategic economic planning through the future integration of the new Anglia Enterprise Partnership. This would be a start for Norfolk to unlock future opportunities.


Devolution was not about taking power away from districts, it would be an opportunity for all  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4/23


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.




Q3 performance report pdf icon PDF 208 KB

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

Additional documents:


Councillor Jane James, the Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services, introduced the Performance Overview Report for Quarter 3. Overall, there had been areas of positive performance during quarter 3 most notably with regard to customer contact calls. In comparison to last year’s figures, the team had successfully managed to reduce the number of days where it had been unable to meet 90% of the calls by 29 days.


Last quarter, Breckland Council had struggled to meet the complaints and Freedom of Information Request targets and changes had been put in place with processes in order to improve the response times. Whilst Freedom of Information Requests had stabilised it had been a challenging quarter in relation to complaints responded to in time.


Ryan Pack, the Performance and Risk Lead Officer, pointed out that on page 19 the RAG rating had been listed incorrect and that it should read 3 red and 6 green.


Councillor Birt asked why ‘generally satisfactory’ could be an acceptable KPI as an ok target. He also asked if all 5 ratings figures could be included and not just 5,4 and 3 as it was important to look at the establishments that achieved bad ratings as well as good. It was agreed that the 1 and 2 ratings would be included in future reports.


Councillor Birt then asked for further clarity on what was being measured in the ‘number of enforcement actions taken’ on page 24 as he felt that the figures did not add up. It was explained that the number 7 had been included within the general activity.


Referring to page 24, the gas usage had increased by 50% on the year-on-year figure with no explanation as to why and any proposed plan to reduce this. Members were informed that it had been difficult to measure this as some of the buildings were tenanted buildings, however, this would be looked at again and reported back to Members.


As Freedom of Information was a statutory obligation, Councillor Birt wanted to know why Breckland Council was not able to comply with this obligation and achieve the results required. He also asked if Environmental Information Regulation Requests were included in this figure. Members were informed that this figure would be checked to establish if it had been included in the total.


Attention was drawn to the ‘further issues’ mentioned on page 28 under the number of Complaint Requests.  Councillor Birt felt it was not clear what the issues were and felt that further explanation was needed in order to scrutinise the position correctly. The text also mentioned ‘above the normal number of complaints’ with no explanation as to why this had increased. Councillor James explained that as the Portfolio Holder she had already the team to look at trends and greater analysis to be able to investigate and find a solution. Councillor Birt asked for an update when this had been realised.


Members of the Commission noted the report.


Draft Budget, Medium Term Plan and Capital Strategy 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 236 KB

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

Additional documents:


Councillor Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance, Revenues & Benefits introduced the report on the draft budget, medium term financial plan and capital strategy. He explained that budgeting within a local authority could be extremely challenging with many variables. A very difficult process involving choices that sometimes had to be made, the complexity of the income streams and the statutory or core service that still had to be provided.


Many authorities around the country had found themselves in untenable positions with finances stretched and sometimes compromised. However, due to the detailed work undertaken by Team Breckland this Council could propose a balanced budget. It had been a positive budget statement and placed Breckland Council in an enviable position and was testament to the prudent fiscal policies that Breckland Council had been following.


Alison Chubbock , the Assistant Director Finance, explained that there had been a late change within business rates that had affected the figures with additional funding, which would be subject to final checks. If the information was correct, Breckland Council would be receiving additional income for Business Rates of around half a million next year and a further one million next year, this is for a fixed term and not long term. A risk assessment needed to be carried out around the likelihood of appeals over the coming year as they were all increases to rateable values. Due to the lateness of the information and the need for debate, it had been suggested that the two amounts be contributed into reserve so that there would be time to decide how this could be used to best support the residents of Breckland.


Councillor Cowen agreed to the aforementioned suggestion.


Councillor Birt queried the bar chart on page 38 comparing different Councils but excluding the parish precepts and asked if this was a fair comparison between Breckland and Great Yarmouth in that Great Yarmouth did not have a Parish precept. Councillor Cowen explained that it was a fair comparison and analysis to make.


Councillor Birt also noted that on page 44 with the cost of living increase it had been raised to just 3% for years 2023-2024 and asked why the Council was budgeting for such a low figure when the Bank of England figures were so much higher. The Assistant Director Finance explained that the cost-of-living increase was an estimate put in each year, it was only part of the salary increase and what was not shown was that staff received an increment each year which brought the actual cost of living up to about 7% to 9% depending on where they were in the grading band along with other benefits that formed part of the negotiation.


Councillor Clarke asked if there were assumptions made on capital expenditure or income in respect of fees for car parking charges within the Breckland area for next year. Councillor Cowen confirmed that this was not included or taken into account.


Councillor Clarke suggested it would be useful to have KPIs on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8/23


Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.



Councillor Wilkinson thanked officers for releasing funds from S106 monies for outside space, to enable the fruition of the skate park in Watton which the Youth Advisory Board had been working hard to achieve over the last 5 to 6 years.


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 219 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 asked if Members were happy to add the item on Inspiring Communities to the work programme with a date tbc, this was agreed.


Councillor Eagle felt it would be interesting to have an appraisal of the Levelling Up bid to see why Breckland failed where others succeeded.


Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 9 March 2023 at 10am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE.



It was agreed that the arrangements for the next meeting would be re-arranged to take place at 10am on Wednesday, 22 March 2023 in the Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE.