Agenda and minutes

Venue: Gallery Bar, Watton Sports Centre, Dereham Road, Watton IP25 6EZ

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2010.


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.


The minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2010 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence had been received from Mr S Askew.



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 Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a person or prejudicial interest.


Mr Rogers and Mr Gilbert declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 7 (Community Scrutiny – Vandalism at Watton Public Conveniences) by virtue of being Watton Town Councillors.



Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

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


Councillor C Bowes was in attendance.



Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Stephen Askew, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within their portfolio and to answer any questions.



Belated apologies had been received from Mr Askew who was unable to attend.  His Executive Support Member had not been briefed and was therefore unable to take his place.  The Service Director was on leave.


The Chairman voiced the Commission’s disappointment that no representative had been found to provide a briefing.


Lady Fisher and Mr Claussen were already on the Work Programme to attend the next meeting, but as Corporate Resources was key to the way forward for the Authority the Chairman requested that Mr Askew be invited again, as soon as possible.



Community Scrutiny - Vandalism at Watton Public Conveniences (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 433 KB

To receive a presentation by the Scrutiny Officer.


Representatives from the Town Council, the Police and Breckland have been invited to discuss vandalism at the toilet block and identify positive outcomes.


The Scrutiny Officer gave a short presentation to give context to the subject.  (Copy attached for information)


There was only one public convenience in Watton and ownership had been transferred from Breckland Council to Watton Town Council in 2008.  £90,000 had been spent refurbishing the toilets.


Two separate incidents of vandalism had been recorded in February and May of 2010 which had cost £1,000 to rectify.


Breckland Council had a new CCTV system and some cameras were in Watton, one of which was opposite the toilet block.  There was an issue with overhanging tree branches obscuring its view of the toilets. 


Invitations had been sent to Watton Town Council (as owners of the toilets), the Police and Breckland Council Lead Officers on Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) and CCTV. 


The aim of the discussion was to understand the issue and agree recommendations for appropriate action to mitigate any future vandalism on the site.


The Chairman explained that the item had been brought to the Commission’s attention by a local Member and he invited Mr Gilbert to open the discussion.


Mr Gilbert said that the CCTV camera could not see the toilets clearly because of the overhanging branches, but he did not want to see the trees removed as they were an important part of the landscape.   He suggested that an alternative site would be opposite the entrance on the Peddars Way Housing Association (PWHA) flats as that would also include the grassed area opposite, where young people gathered and which was heavily littered on a daily basis.


Mr Ivory (Chairman of Watton Town Council) said they had problems with ASB in several areas and it seemed that those areas were chosen because they were out of sight of the CCTV cameras.  He suggested that there should be liaison to highlight problem areas.


The Council’s Community Safety Officer said that the current camera was well located to cover the surgery, an alleyway and the toilet block. 


As part of the CCTV procurement and design process there had been considerable consultation with stakeholders: the Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Town Council, CDRP analysts, CCTV Group, etc to identify areas of risk, when deciding where to locate cameras.


There was an intention to re-launch the CCTV focus groups in each of the market towns.  Groups would comprise Town and District Councillors, Police, Community Safety Officer, businesses and residents to discuss local issues and to explore solutions where CCTV could provide support.  However, the issue of proportionality needed to be addressed and evidence had to be provided to support the use of cameras in specific locations for specific purposes.


It was accepted that the cameras could not be used inside the toilets and therefore their ability to prevent vandalism of the facilities was limited.


A Member asked how regularly the toilets were checked as in Thetford they had hourly checks.  They also highlighted hot spots to their Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) and had close communication with the Youth Engagement Team.  He said that the new  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.


Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 8)

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


ARP Joint Scrutiny


Mr Kybird, Chairman of the Task & Finish Group, explained that due to personal reasons he had been unable to sign off the final report and so it had not been circulated.


The Commission had received the final draft report at its last meeting and the report was thus suitable to be presented to Cabinet it its current form.


He read out the specific recommendations which were agreed by the Commission.




1)     The ARP has proved to be a highly effective method of working with partner authorities and the model could serve as a function for other areas of joint authority service provision;


2)     Each meeting of the ARP Joint Committee to continue to consider fully the risk register;


3)     The importance of the expertise of key staff is recognised and to ensure that the Partnership does not become over-reliant on these key staff, protocols should be put in place to deal with the management of staffing levels and to be included within the partnership’s risk register;


4)     The ARP undertakes a full integration of its support services in the light of continuing sustained growth;


5)     To ensure where practicable that there is standardisation of policies and procedures across the partner authorities to ensure the maximisation of efficiencies and savings can be achieved;


6)     To streamline the undertaking of internal auditing, direct debit dates and write-offs between the partner authorities; and


7)     The application of the blended pay scheme to continue to be monitored and to replicate the positive benefits of this type of pay scheme to partner authorities as a “best practice” example.



Shared Services (Agenda Item 9)

To discuss scrutiny arrangements with South Holland.


The Scrutiny Officer advised Members that a paper would be presented to South Holland’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 14 September 2010 offering options for joint scrutiny.


The Commission’s Chairman and the Chairman of the Audit Committee had met with their opposite numbers from South Holland and discussed how they saw the process going forward.


The Chairman indicated that although South Holland had a very different Scrutiny process to Breckland, in other respects the two Councils seemed to be very much in tune.


South Holland District Council and East Lindsey District Council, working in partnership, had set up a Special Service Trading Company to provide HR, Finance, Corporate Services and Revenues and Benefits services for the two Councils.  This did not affect Breckland’s current shared service plans.


South Holland had seemed keen to carry out their own scrutiny of the proposals first and then meet with Breckland to undertake effective joint scrutiny.  It was suggested that the Commission should wait for the results of their proposals on 14 September before deciding what to do.


However the Chairman emphasised that the model that had been used for the proposed South Norfolk shared service was still relevant and would help to inform the process and may well prove to be the best approach.


Venues for joint meetings could either be at Breckland, at South Holland or via video conferencing in order to keep travel costs to a minimum.


The recent Business Improvement Sub-Committee had considered proposals for IT provision.  There was a need to refresh the equipment used by Members, but under the current spending review any proposals for investment would need to be closely scrutinised and clearly justified.  This process would also need to be linked to the shared service agenda.


The Chairman asked Members to think about this matter and to decide who would like to be involved in the process.


The Vice-Chairman noted that providing best value in the procurement of equipment should always have been the Council’s priority – no matter what the economic background.


With regard to the Revenues and Benefits arm of the South Holland Trading Company, he thought it would be good if they could integrate with the ARP in some way.


The Director of Community Services explained that the South Holland Trading Company was different to the ARP as it could only provide services for South Holland and East Lindsey.  The ARP was able to offer its services to other authorities.


The Vice-Chairman was concerned that the negotiations with South Norfolk had been protracted, whereas those with South Holland seemed to have taken very little time at all.


The Chairman explained that as all the preliminary work had been done for the South Norfolk proposal this had reduced the time.  Also there appeared to be a greater political will at South Holland to make this arrangement work.


A Member suggested that it would be useful for the Commission to see the Terms of Reference of the South Holland Trading Company, however, the Chairman  ...  view the full minutes text for item 80.


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 (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 53 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.


The Chairman and Vice-Chairman had attended a briefing session on Performance Monitoring which had been very interesting.


About 30% of the actions agreed to be undertaken by the Council were not actually carried out.  The Commission had been asked to scrutinise this matter.  Currently Performance Clinics were held quarterly and this information would be highlighted using the traffic light system.


The Vice-Chairman mentioned the fact that he had received an agenda for a Standards Hearing Sub-Committee which did not include the ‘exempt’ information contained within the agenda.  He had queried this and been told that there were certain items which Members were not entitled to see.  He was very concerned about this.


It was noted by another Member that Executive Support Members did not get copies of the Executive Board Agendas and Minutes.


Moving on to the work programme, the Vice-Chairman asked if the proposed scrutiny of the Fire Service would duplicate the work done by Norfolk County Council and suggested that there was no point in doing it if that was the case.


The Chairman suggested that it could be reported ‘by exception’.


The Vice-Chairman also thought it would be a good idea to invite the new Joint Chief Executive to a Commission meeting.


The Scrutiny Officer was asked if there was any information about the LDF Task and Finish Group.  He had contacted the Principal Planning Policy Officer, but had received no positive response to date.


The Chairman felt that the LDF required close scrutiny, particularly in light of the abolition of the Regional Spatial Strategy.


The Scrutiny Officer advised Members that the new Chief Constable had been invited to attend the 18 November meeting, but he was unavailable.  However, Chief Superintendent Sarah Hamlin would attend in his place.


He also asked Members to note that the Commission meeting scheduled for 23 December 2010 had been moved to 6 January 2011.


A Member requested that the title of the Norfolk Fire Service in the report be corrected to read the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.


Finally the Chairman told Members that the Scrutiny Officer would be leaving the Council to become the Town Clerk at Attleborough Town Council.  The 7 October meeting would be his last and after that the Member Services Manager would take over temporarily until a replacement was found. 


The Chairman thanked Mark for all his sterling work.



Next Meeting

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 7 October 2010 at the Village Hall in Mundford.



It was noted that the next meeting would be held at Mundford Village Hall on Thursday 7 October 2010, at 2.15pm.