Venue: Level 1 Meeting Room, Breckland House, St Nicholas Street, Thetford IP24 1BT
Contact: Committee Services 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 6 January 2011.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 6 January 2011 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 had been received from Mr K Gilbert.
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.
There was none.
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 Kybird declared a personal interest as Thetford Town Council’s representative on the Moving Thetford Forward Board.
Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting
To note the names of any non-members or public speakers wishing to address the meeting.
Mr G Bambridge was in attendance.
Executive Member Portfolio Update
Terry Huggins, Chief Executive, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within the Council and to answer any questions.
Mr Terry Huggins, Joint Chief Executive of Breckland and South Holland District Councils gave an update on the Council’s business.
Shared Management Structure
The merging of the two management structures was underway, and he was pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Stokes as Deputy Chief Executive of the two councils, and Maxine O’Mahony as Director of Commissioning. They would officially take up their posts on 1 April 2011.
All other ‘in scope’ managers had been undertaking an assessment process for the remaining manager and Assistant Director posts. These assessments would conclude on 10 February.
On Tuesday 15 February all of the applicants would be advised of the outcome of their assessment. Those who had been successful would then move on to the interview process which begins on 16 February and concludes on 1 March.
Any unsuccessful candidates would then move on to the next stage of redundancy proceedings where opportunities for redeployment would be explored.
The outcomes of the interviews would be known in the first week of March. All newly appointed post holders would begin their new shared roles on 1 April.
Once the members of the new shared management team had been appointed, accommodation for the team would need to be set up so that they could work effectively across the two councils. Some of the options being considered by the project team included greater use of open plan offices and ‘hot desking’ arrangements.
The IT infrastructure had also begun to be explored.
The new structure was still set to go live on 1 April 2011 and the Council was on track to meet the balanced savings of £350,000.
The Government had just agreed the financial settlement for 2011/2012, and given an indicative view for 2012/2013. Based on this, there was a considerable reduction on Government grants.
The Chief Executive was proud that Breckland Council had introduced housekeeping measures in order to produce budget savings without cutting frontline services.
At present there was a shortfall of £1million and it would be the task of the management team to look at how to close this gap. The two Councils would work closely to establish where savings could be made. One of the areas being explored was the setting up of Mutuals.
The Localism Bill had recently been published and very broadly encouraged devolution of power to a local level, such as County and District Councils. This was a challenging time, and with this devolution of power means there was much more transparency in the way the Council operated. For example any invoice over £500 had to be published on the website.
Local Elections would be held on 5 May 2011 and would therefore bring a new administration. The Management team would work with the new Council in refreshing the Corporate Plan ensuring it met the needs of Breckland.
In conclusion the Chief Executive said that there were lots of challenges ahead, such as the Big Society and Affordable Housing planning systems. ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
To scrutinise the Partner organisation.
The Deputy Chief Executive introduced Kevin Ward, Growth Programme Manager to the Commission.
Breckland Council had successfully applied for ‘Growth Point’ status for Thetford and received funding of £7,001,688 to support the delivery of growth and regeneration of the area. Moving Thetford Forward Board (MTF) had been set up to bring together key stakeholders and partners to inform the work on the growth of Thetford. The Moving Thetford Forward Board was a decision making body and Breckland Council was accountable for the funding.
There were a number of thematic groups heading up key major projects such as Bus Interchange, Healthy Towns, redevelopment of Haling Footpath and a development of a Skateboard park.
There was an interactive website to gather views from the public, and Billboards around the town to keep the public informed of the key projects and timescales.
Mr Rogers asked who was responsible for the Brecks clearing of the North Bank of the river as there appeared to be some confusion. The Growth Programme Manager was aware of the issues and would co-ordinate with the Brecks Partnership.
The Deputy Chief Executive advised that the Thematic groups would be refreshed and that the relationships between the sponsors and the lead officers would be reviewed.
The Chairman asked if the Moving Thetford Forward Board would engage Members in these projects. Mr Chapman-Allen confirmed that at the beginning of the project, the Leader of the Council had invited all Members to attend and be involved with the thematic groups.
The Growth Programme Manager said he was happy to attend any Town Council meeting to update Councillors with the Moving Thetford Forward Board.
The Chairman asked how the Board chose its projects as it appeared there was conflict within the town about the Academy.
The Deputy Chief Executive responded that there was an expression of interest raised at the Project Board.
The Academy timescale was unclear and there would be a decision made in March 2011.
The successful delivery of the Academy depended on key agencies working together.
Mr Joel agreed that the Academy was a priority in Thetford and an excellent project.
It was agreed that the Deputy Chief Executive should prepare a proposal for the Academy Sponsors to enable the project to move forward.
It was recommended that:
Task and Finish Groups
To receive a verbal update.
(a) Parking – Swaffham Review (Agenda Item 10a)
The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group informed Members that a Public meeting had been held on 25 January. It had been attended by 26 members of the public and most were happy with the parking within the town. The Group would be presenting their report to the Commission on 24 March.
(b) Joint Audit and Scrutiny Panel – ICT Review (Agenda Item 10b)
The Election and Scrutiny Manager explained to Members that the meeting scheduled for 1 February had been cancelled due to a delay on the business case. A further meeting had been re-scheduled for 2 March 2011.
The Vice Chairman raised concerns about the Member Development Panel and that the minutes did not appear to be circulated. He proposed that as the Member Development Panel was an extension of scrutiny, it should report to the Commission.
It was resolved that the minutes of the Member Development Panel should be included on the Overview and Scrutiny Commission agenda for information in future.
Changes under the Floods and Water Management Act due to be implemented in April 2011 potentially give a much greater role to both the County Council and the Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs).
To discuss the implications of the changes and to establish the way forward.
The Principal Environmental Health Officer presented the report on the new legislation of the Flood and Water Management Act due to be implemented in April 2011. He pointed out that the Sustainable drainage systems will be approved by SuDs Approving Body (the SAB) at County. Guidance was currently awaited on how this would happen, but it was unlikely to appear until later 2011 or early 2012.
Norfolk County Council had appointed a Flood Water Manager and they were meeting local planners.
The Local Drainage Board was very active and happy with the current way they received information on planning applications on a weekly basis.
The issue was that information needed to be included on the GIS areas for when an application was made.
Mr Bambridge said he was very pleased to hear that the Drainage Boards received a weekly list as this had not always been the case. He wanted to ensure that planners were informed and aware of drainage issues. He hoped that the new Flood Water Management Manager would keep up to speed. He also hoped that the independent funding on Internal Drainage Board would be retained.
The Principal Environmental Health Officer confirmed that although the timescales had changed the Environment Agency were still involved. The County Council would lead on local matters and the Internal Drainage Board would be involved.
The Chairman asked that all relevant Drainage Boards be consulted when development might affect adjoining authorities.
The Principal Environmental Health Officer confirmed that preparation work was beginning. Norfolk County Council and Suffolk County Council were to produce their own national strategy on future flood risks, but these were currently delayed.
The Chairman raised concerns that there had been a breakdown in communication in the past. Planning lists had been sent to Drainage boards, but they only looked at those lists by default. He suggested that a formal letter be sent to the Drainage Board when they were affected.
Mr Bambridge was aware of a lecture taking place on 18 March by the Italian Water Board and suggested that a Breckland Council representative should attend.
The Vice Chairman was surprised that the Internal Drainage Boards were not statutory consultees of planning applications.
It was agreed that an Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting would be arranged for the Drainage boards to come in and discuss the new ways of working.
Shared Services (Standing Item)
To receive a verbal update.
The Shared Services Project Manager was in attendance to provide Members with a verbal update.
He outlined that all applications had been received by 18 January. Six managers, all from South Holland, had applied for voluntary redundancy and these had been accepted.
26 candidates had been assessed. One candidate had dropped out of the process.
A meeting would be held on Monday 14 February with the new Corporate Management Team and the Recruitment advisers to sift the results and move onto the next stage.
On 15 February, candidates would be informed if they had been successful and would be interviewed, or issued with notice of redundancy. The outcomes of the interviews will be known in first week of March.
An external agency has been engaged to provide outplacement support for those who were affected and everything would be done to minimise compulsory redundancies.
The Shared Services Project Manager reminded Members that as soon as outcomes were known they would be informed. He also mentioned that the IT Infrastructure work had begun to ensure that contact between the two sites was as easy as possible.
The Vice-Chairman said that this would be a good opportunity for Members to learn new technology and it would be good if this together with the Member/Officer protocol was in place by the 5 May elections. The Shared Service Project Manager confirmed that Training Officers were working towards this.
The Chairman thanked Mr Wilkin for his update.
Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)
To note whether any decisions have been called-in for scrutiny.
There were none.
Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)
To consider any references.
Mr Martin raised the issue that the Attleborough Action Plan questionnaire for areas NR16 and NR17 had not been received by all. He had raised this concern with the Deputy Leader. It could explain why there had not been many responses.
(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 Elections and Scrutiny Manager confirmed that the Leader of the Council would be in attendance at the next meeting.
The Director for Corporate Resources was due to speak at the next meeting about the Member/Officer protocol, but as her role had now changed, it was agreed that she should speak about her new role as Director of Commissioning.
The Elections and Scrutiny Manager confirmed that he had written guidelines on the Purdah period and these would be issued to all Members shortly. He also bought to the attention of the Commission a petition of 2,700 signatures that had been received from Attleborough Community Team (ACT). This would be going to Full Council on 24 February where there would be 5 minutes for ACT to present their case, and then 15 minutes for the Council to debate. He would provide a definition on ‘Petition’ and issue guidance notes for the Commission.
To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 10 March 2011.
The next meeting would be on 10 March at 2pm, in the Anglia Room, Committee Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham NR19 1EE.