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 224 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2023 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Apologies and Substitutes

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


Apologies were received from Cllr Wickerson and Cllr Nunn. Cllr Atterwill was in attendance as substitute for Cllr Wickerson.


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.



With regard to item 9 on the agenda, Cllrs Bowes, Eagle and Jermy declared that they were Norfolk County Councillors in addition to being Breckland District Councillors and as such, had an interest in this item.


Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

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




Finance and Performance Report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 354 KB

Report of Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue & Benefits and Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services.

Additional documents:


Cllr Phillip Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance, Revenues and Benefits, introduced the Finance and Performance report 2022/23 which provided information on the full year financial position of the Council as of 31 March 2023 and an overview of the Council’s performance for the period 1 January 2023 to 31 March 2023 (Q4).




1)    That the report and appendix be noted.


Recommend to Full Council that:


2)    Capital budgets and associated funding sources of £4,364,264 be carried forward into 2023- 24 to support approved capital projects

3)    The revised capital budget and associated funding for the 2023-24 capital programme as detailed in appendix A be approved.

4)    The final capital out-turn and funding for 2022-23 as detailed in appendix B be approved.


Referring to Appendix C of the report, Cllr Cowen pointed out that the budget deficit had fallen to just under £200,000, which was a reduction of £346,000 compared to the last quarter, despite health and housing costs having risen within the same period. Furthermore, Breckland Council had invested in its emergency housing provision in Thetford and Dereham so looking pro-rata, this would be approximately £350,000 to £375,000 a year savings made on temporary accommodation costs.


Cllr Webb, Executive Member for Customer and Corporate Services spoke about the performance for Quarter 4. There had been a slight change to the layout of the report, with the addition of some figures that were reported annually. Demand on the Housing Team continued to be high, the number of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) completed within 140 days was low, this should improve in the new financial year when further funding became available. There had been some improvement in the report surrounding Freedom of Information and Complaint response times, but below where they would like them to be, however, she felt that it was pleasing to see that they were moving in the right direction.


Cllr Atterwill had noticed that in Appendix A there had been an overspend of £41,938 for the improvements to the Queen Mother’s Garden and asked why this had happened. Also in Appendix A, it looked as if there had been an underspend on Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs), yet the demand remained high. The report showed £8m in non-UK banks and he asked for more detail and if the money was well protected.


The Assistant Director Finance, Alison Chubbock stated that all investments met the counterparty criteria set by Treasury Management advisors and often some of the foreign banks had a stronger rating than some UK banks. There would never be 100% guarantee, but the only investments Breckland Council made were ones that met the strict criteria set by Treasury Management which gave as much protection as they could.


Cllr Cowen explained that although it looked like there was an underspend of DFGs, the money had all been committed and projects had been allocated it was about waiting for the contractors to carry out the actual work. The Housing Manager, Gill Duffy explained that some money had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34/23


Norfolk County Council - Grass Verges, Pothole, Path and Underpass Maintenance

To receive a presentation from Matt Lines, Local Highways Engineer and Luke Denney, Area Support Engineer.


The Area Manager South – Highways, David Jacklin and the Area Support Engineer, Luke Denney, from Norfolk County Council (NCC), talked Members through the presentation on Grass Verges, Pothole, Path and Underpass Maintenance explaining the background of the contract and how it had evolved to date.


David Jacklin explained how Norfolk had been broken down into different areas, with the Breckland Council area falling into the South Area office, specifically Areas 3 and 4. The work carried out by this team included:


  • Highway Routine Inspection and Maintenance: identification and delivery
  • Network Management, Street works permitting
  • Structural Maintenance: Identification of schemes for fwd capital programme
  • Parish Partnership, Local Member Fund, RSCF advice/ liaison
  • Winter Services, management of gritting
  • PROW inspections
  • Out of Hours Highways Emergency Response


Types of Work delivered via Norse and Tarmac included:


  • Verges, Hedges, Trees                     
  • PROW - Routine Maintenance         
  • Signs - Non-Illuminated                    
  • Road Studs    
  • Emergency Cleaning - Roads            
  • Sanding Roads - Bleeding Tar                      
  • Repairs - Drainage                
  • Repairs - Footway, Kerbs                 
  • Repairs - Structures              
  • Road Markings          
  • Surface Water Drainage Cleaning - Rodding/Jetting
  • Layered Patching                  
  • Patching Tar & Chip
  • Spray Injection Patching                  
  • Road Sign/Post Replacement          
  • Drainage                   
  • Potholes, varying methods              
  • Weed Control            
  • Grass Cutting – Rural & Urban         
  • Gully Emptying – Cyclic & reactive   
  • C&U Road Surface Dressing Pre patching   
  • Machine Patching (Plane out / inlay)


Norfolk’s roadside verges were only cut for safety reasons and not appearance. There were different grass cutting schedules for the roads:


  • grass verges along main (A and B classified) roads were cut twice between May and September each year. C and U roads would be cut once followed up with a safety cut at visibility splays if required subject to growth.
  • Urban roads were typically cut 4 times a year depending on the growing season, and areas maintained on the County Council’s behalf by other local councils may see more frequent cuts.
  • grass verges along main (A and B classified) roads were cut twice between May and September each year. C and U roads would be cut once followed up with a safety cut at visibility splays if required subject to growth.
  • Urban roads were typically cut 4 times a year depending on the growing season, and areas maintained on the county council’s behalf by other local councils may see more frequent cuts.
  • No Mow May - initiative by ‘Plantlife’ garden owners and greenspace managers to increase flower rich meadows and benefit wildlife.
  • NCC roadside verge cutting started in mid-May to be able to service the whole of Norfolk after a period of fast vegetative growth. There was an ongoing effort to review the council’s verge cutting regime, this would due summer 2024.
  • Roadside Nature Reserves (RNRs) were protected verges and were managed separately from the wider verge network. These verges were managed with specialised expertise and in an ecologically sensitive matter. Norfolk County Council had committed to increase the number of RNRs from 111 to 300 by Autumn 2024. Efforts were underway to do this and would continue throughout this summer and next.  Any new RNRs  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35/23


Infrastructure Levy Consultation

To receive an update on the Infrastructure Levy Consultation from Simon Wood, Director of Planning and Building Control.


The Director of Planning and Building Control, Simon Wood, gave a presentation explaining the background and principles behind the Infrastructure Levy.


       Principle of Infrastructure Levy set out in Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill currently working through parliament – currently at report stage in House of Lords

       Assent expected in September/October 2023

       Replaces current system of developers' contributions – S106 & CIL

       Will be mandatory and non-negotiable

       Locally Determined

       Detailed design to be through regulations


Each Council would need to prepare its own Infrastructure Delivery Strategy. This would set out the types of infrastructure that would be required within a district, it would support the Local Plan, and it would set out how the infrastructure would be delivered. It could apply to all types of developments, including development permitted through permitted development rights ensuring such development remained viable. This strategy would be subject to examination once drafted and would be introduced through a phased ‘test and learn’ process over several years.


Progress so far:


       Report presented to Cabinet 30th May setting out the main issues.

       Copy of the consultation document and questions circulated to all Members following Cabinet.

       Draft responses being finalised in agreement with the Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Operational Planning and the Deputy Chief Executive

       Responses to be submitted by 9th June 2023.


The Director of Planning and Building Control went through the Infrastructure Levy main responses, explaining the technical aspects of the content. He explained that Breckland District Council had put themselves forward to be a ‘test and learn’ authority to help learn and take this process forward but had yet to hear confirmation on this.


Cllr Kybird said that this strategy thus far assumed that all developers were deemed to be equal but in reality, the larger national house builders had possibly a 20% cost advantage over SME builders, therefore, this would be likely to put many small builders out of business. In terms of locally set rate, he asked, if this would this be in the form of having small site exemptions or reductions in levy for small sites. Ultimately extra costs would make houses less affordable with less delivery, which went against what the Government was trying to do.


The Director of Planning and building Control said that this was a valid point and that Breckland needed to be conscious of this and ensure Central Government were aware of the challenge and implications involved. In terms of affordability, the levy was seeking to try to provide a cost base based on viability. There was an argument that if costs increased it would inevitably be passed on to house buyers, but what it was seeking to do was ensure that development remained viable and where there was an uplift in value as a result of planning permission being granted, that uplift was utilized in part to provide necessary infrastructure and hopefully, this would have a minimal impact on house prices.


Cllr Clarke asked if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36/23


Task and Finish Groups

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


Serco Contract

To receive an update on the progress of the Serco Contract from Assistant Director Contract & Operations, Riana Rudland, after the Serco Task and Finish Group report in October 2022.


The Chairman of the Serco Contract, Task and Finish Group, Cllr Lynda Turner gave Members a brief background on why the group had been set up. In December 2021 it had been proposed that a task and finish group was set up to examine the new Serco contract following concerns raised by Members on the quality of the services being delivered and the service impact experience during the mobilization of the contract. There had been 3 terms of reference:


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

·         To examine the impact of Covid and the national supply chain issues on the mobilisaton of the contract

·         To scrutinise the current performance of the Serco contract


The Assistant Director Contract & Operations, Riana Rudland explained that there had been five actions from the outcome of the task & finish group report:


·         To note the contents of the report. This was noted.

·         Members requested that the relevant officers raise concerns relating to the morale of front-line staff to seek assurance from Serco that processes and procedures were in place to ensure staff morale remained a priority. This had been raised at the time and processes were in place and officers had subsequently spent time at the depot and Serco had an Employee Assist scheme in place. There had been some concerns over the recent pay negotiations, but this had now been finalised and concluded and morale remained positive.

·         Officers to investigate localised reporting issues raised through the task & finish group to ensure that Serco were held to account in rectifying those issues and any subsequent issues as they arose.  All of the issues raised had been addressed and any Councillors who raised specific ward issues were written to with a full update. Some issues raised were not the responsibility of Serco but other agencies and were passed on and dealt with accordingly. Members were encouraged to use the ‘report it’ function on the website and to encourage residents to do the same as this went directly through to Serco.

·         Monitoring of the contract should remain a priority and the portfolio holder and officers should report to OSC periodically on matters relating to performance and quality including the introduction of any additional KPIs.  Currently contract performance had remained high and the contract had seen a steady overall improvement across all areas and collections had remained consistent. There had been significant improvements in the Call Centre, with additional staff and training.

·         That the online fly-tipping ‘report it’ be prioritised – this work continued, it had suffered some technical issues, but it was hoped that this should be rolled out by quarter two.


Cllr Jermy said that there was still an issue with the report it system if an issue was reported that was not on Breckland land, residents were not being informed. The Assistant Director Contract & Operations said that this was all part of the online reporting and should be included when it rolled out, feedback would be passed to the digital  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37/23a


Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.



Cllr Kybird said that the Norfolk Health & Overview Scrutiny Committee (HOSCC) had had a positive outcome recently in respect of the proposal to close the walk-in centre in Norwich. This centre had been saved within the existing procurement budget.


There were currently, three districts that had yet to appoint their new representatives to HOSCC.


Cllr Kybird also mentioned the Breckland Area Museums Committee and if any new Members were interested to add it to their choices of committees in MOD.Gov. He pointed out that non-Members were welcome to attend any of the meetings.


As a Governor on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Kings Lynn, Cllr Wilkinson informed Members that the QEH was now on the list for a new hospital which would hopefully be built in the next 7 years and conveyed his thanks to two Norfolk MPs, Liz Truss and James Wild for lobbying central government.


Also, as a member of the Breckland Youth Advisory Board (YAB), Cllr Wilkinson informed Members that Breckland Council would again fund the ‘Cup-O-Tea’ wellness and therapy service project. This supported a gap in the mental health service for families diagnosed with mental health to the time that they received treatment.


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 207 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 was keen to hear the committee’s suggestions for items to add to the work programme and felt that it was important that all Members of the Commission raised issues of concern.


Cllr Clarke said he had been doing a lot of work recently with regard to housing issues and had noted residents’ concerns in regard to mould and damp and adaptations and asked if all Housing Providers could be invited back by quarter 3 to explain what was within their remit to help, assist and support residents.


Cllr Atterwill asked if someone from the Early Years’ Alliance and NCC education/pre-school could be invited to a future meeting to talk about pre-schools in general in Breckland as, many had closed recently, and felt they were not being supported. Within the planning S106 agreement NCC asked for education contributions, but this only covered primary and secondary, not pre-schools, some were voluntary run, and some struggled for premises and, it was important to get the early years right.


Cllr Turner suggested, that to comply with the monitoring of the Serco contract, that Environmental Services be invited back again in 12 months’ time.


The Chairman referred to the previous agenda item when DFGs had been discussed and felt that this was an item that was worth further scrutiny. He also said he would look at the existing work programme and ensure previous items were relevant, remove any that were no longer necessary, and add the new suggestions. If any Members had any further suggestions to contact him to discuss it further.



Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 14 September 2023 at 10am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE.



The arrangements for the next meeting, scheduled for 20 July 2023 at 10am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE, were noted.