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 233 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 8 June 2023.


The minutes of the meeting held on 8 June 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 Kybird and Cllr Wickerson. 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.



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.




Housing Providers

To receive presentations from local Housing Providers on management of current housing stock, proposed new developments and any current issues faced.



Adrian Barber, the Managing Director of Victory Homes, which formed part of the Flagship Group, talked Members through the Flagship Group presentation. He explained that Housing providers were currently working in a rapidly changing, pressured environment to provide good quality, well maintained homes to meet residents’ needs. The financial positions of many housing providers had been tested more than ever before, with an increased demand for new properties and maintenance of existing stock.


  He summarised current focus into the following areas:


·         Tenant engagement

·         Timescales for repairs and clear communication

·         Complaint handling

·         Social, environmental and economic wellbeing

·         Energy efficiency

·         Costs

·         Stock quality

·         Performance


Mr Barber explained that repairs were a number one focus, however, in the past this had not always been the case and that Flagship Group was working hard to rectify this. He stated that the Flagship Group was expecting a new IT system which would be rolled out on 25 September 2023.  This would enable an improvement and modernised ability to provide maintenance in the right areas at the right time with the right people who were qualified to fix the repairs. The new system would also offer online services in addition to the normal telephone option to give residents more choice, with the ability to track repairs should they wish to.


The Flagship Group had worked on improving stock quality and had now visited 75% of current stock with the aim of increasing this figure as close to 100% as possible and were collating data to enable better handling of stock. The Flagship Group was also working to improve the void times of properties so that when residents did move out, the Housing Provider could turn around the properties more efficiently. An increase in staff had recently been achieved with three new members who would concentrate solely on visiting tenants who had not been in contact with the housing provider at all or for many years, these staff would check both for wellbeing and repairs. Mr Barber explained that it was very difficult to get the right balance, some tenants did not welcome such visits as they felt this would encroach on their privacy, but it was explained that this was purely for their benefit, to check the property to keep up with repairs and annual maintenance to ensure that tenants were safe and secure.


Tony Tann, the Managing Director of Flagship Group’s Development Team, stated that the Group had provided 88 affordable homes in the last 5 years with a further 293 homes in progress along with a proposed 337 homes in the pipeline. He described the focus areas and challenges faced, including ‘staircasing’ restrictions on shared ownership homes. He explained staircasing, in that with shared ownership, the buyer could purchase a percentage of a new home immediately, anywhere between 10% and 75%. Most homeowners worked towards purchasing more along the way with a view to owning their own home outright and most lenders preferred this option, so the buyer would staircase upwards to achieve this.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49/22


Q1 Finance, Performance and Projects report pdf icon PDF 321 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 Paul Hewett, the Executive Member for Property, Projects and Procurement, introduced the Finance, Performance and Projects report which provided information on the forecast for the full financial year position of the Council as at 30 June 2023 and an overview of the Council’s Performance and Corporate Projects for the period 1st April 2023 to 30th June 2023 (Q1).


In May 2023, Cabinet saw the first combined Finance and Performance Quarterly Report, and now Corporate Projects had also been included in the report. Cllr Hewett gave an overview of the report highlighting three main areas:


·         Finance - appendix A provided information relating to the full-year forecast financial position as at 30 June 2023. As expected for a quarterly 1 report, there were a lot of estimates and assumptions that would over the course of the year revert back to actuals invariably closing any budget gaps over the year. That said, there was the continued impact of inflation, high utilities costs, and high fuel prices along with the continued high cost of living which had challenged the budget-setting process. The revenue forecast out-turn was currently estimating an overspend of £671k, however, Annex A highlighted the remediation steps to reduce this where appropriate. The forecast capital out-turn was currently forecasting a below spend of £1.146k, this would also change as projects were monitored and the year progressed. The investment budget from a Treasury perspective showed an above-budget income of £151k as a result of high-interest rates rising more than anticipated when the budget was set, which was an outcome of high inflation levels. The additional income would help mitigate higher revenue costs throughout the year.


·         Performance – appendix B set out a summary of the Key Performance Indicators in a new layout. There were some pleasing results over the quarter with improvements in the complaint response times after the intervention of the organizational development and performance teams and the performance board. Cllr Hewett stated that he would like to see an improvement in the Freedom of Information response times as this was currently unacceptable, and work was underway to resolve this.


·         Corporate Projects – appendix C of the report currently showed six projects classified as corporately critical, but all were moving in a positive direction. There were three key projects highlighted that had passed through key milestones during Q1 which should be noted, the Idox Software Implementation project, Solar Projects and Attleborough Leisure, with further information laid out in the report.


Cllr Turner pointed out page 32 of the report under Customer Satisfaction and asked why the target was only 80%. Cllr Hewett agreed that 80% was not satisfactory, however it was the nature of any organisation to strive to do better, no matter what the organisation did, it would not please every customer and needed to challenge success as well as failure as it could always be better.


Cllr Bambridge pointed out the number of missed bins on page 32 and explained that there had been a lot of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50/22


Performance Framework Review pdf icon PDF 305 KB

Report of Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member for Customer & Corporate Services.

Additional documents:


Members of the Commission were happy with the Performance Management Framework review and had no comments at this time.


Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.



Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust


Cllr Wilkinson, as a committee Member on this Trust,  reported that he had recently attended a meeting on the rebuild  as part of the government’s New Hospital Programme to discuss the building of the new hospital and how it would move forward, with consultations currently being undertaken locally and with staff and patients, he said that it had been confirmed that this would be a cross-party programme which aimed to rebuild the hospital by 2030.


Breckland Youth Advisory Board (YAB)


Cllr Wilkinson, as a member on the YAB, reported that there had recently been an awards night that had recognised the achievements of young Commissioners and that he himself had been surprised when he had been presented with an award as an outstanding advocate for young people. He was also pleased to report that the YAB had been shortlisted for the Flourish Awards to be held in Norwich on 25 September 2023. The Flourish Awards recognised the most outstanding contributions made towards enabling young people to live their best lives.


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 88 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 highlighted items on the work programme for the next meeting in November which included housing related items from the Forward Plan. He suggested that it was his intention to aim for future Scrutiny meetings to be theme-related and, with this in mind, suggested other housing providers, who had not been available to attend this meeting, be invited to the November meeting to enable full feedback on issues and challenges from all local housing providers.  This was agreed by other Members.


Along with this, the Chairman suggested that for future meetings the portfolio holder be invited for each of the themed services.


Cllr Turner agreed, and felt it was important and part of their duty, for the individual portfolio holders to be invited to a portfolio-themed meeting to be able to comment on their own particular portfolio and how it was fairing.


This was agreed by Members and would start with a housing-themed meeting in November and the Executive Member for Housing and Homelessness, Claire Bowes, to be the first representative/portfolio holder to be invited.


Cllr Atterwill pointed out that under Future Items, he would still like to invite the Communications Team to a Scrutiny meeting as he felt that this would be useful for Ward Members.


The Chair also pointed out a further future item for Inspiring Communities and would like to see this on the agenda along with Health & Wellbeing Partners to monitor the progress and outcome of the work being done.


Cllr Atterwill asked if Members thought that the Scrutiny Commission was meeting often enough and felt additional meetings should be considered to be able to move things forward and make a difference. The Chairman said he was open to Members' opinions and asked them to contact him directly with their thoughts on this.


Cllr Atterwill also asked if the Commission could have some feedback from senior management on performance and the new ways of working within the Council. He wanted to investigate whether agile working was actually working for Members, residents and the community as well as the officers and suggested this be included in the themed meeting with the relevant portfolio holder.


The Chairman said he had been already working on the work programme and had thoughts on how this should look over the year ahead and would work with Democratic Services to plan this moving forward. He said that the work program belonged to Members of the Commission and should be driven by them to format a plan to make a difference and he would be very happy to have discussions and take ideas from Members to make the work program a useful tool for the Commission.


Next Meeting

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