Agenda and minutes

Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2011.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2011 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

2.

Apologies and Substitutes (Agenda Item 2)

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

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Mr P Cowen and Mrs D Irving.

 

Mrs C Bowes was present as substitute for Mrs Irving.

 

Mr Kybird had sent apologies that he would be late for the meeting (he arrived at 2.30pm).

3.

Urgent Business (Agenda Item 3)

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.

Minutes:

None.

4.

Declaration of Interest (Agenda Item 4)

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 personal or prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

Mr R Richmond and Mr W Richmond declared personal interests in Agenda Item 7 by virtue of owning land in the Site Specifics submission.

5.

Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting (Agenda Item 5)

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

Minutes:

Mr G Bambridge, Mr M Kiddle-Morris, Mr W Richmond and Mr A Stasiak were in attendance.

6.

Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Adrian Stasiak, Deputy Leader & Executive Member for Performance and Business Development, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within his portfolio and to answer any questions.

Minutes:

Mr Stasiak had been invited to update the Commission on his Portfolio.  He was accompanied by his Executive Support Member, William Richmond.

 

Mr Stasiak said that he worked with able and forward thinking officers who dealt with a wide range of areas including Internal Communications, Marketing, the Print Room, Performance and Risk.

 

Mr W Richmond explained that the Print Room had been reviewed in September to determine whether the service should be outsourced, improved or retained as was.  It had been decided that improvements should be made to maximise its potential.  New ways of working had been introduced and these included a new procedure for print requests which provided greater accountability. 

 

Mr Stasiak said that there had been significant work regarding Shared Management since the Election and the Performance and Business Improvement Teams had been at the forefront of that work.  Monitoring performance was critical for joint working and the Performance Plus system used by South Holland had replaced the TENS system to enable both authorities to access information from any location.

 

Each authority had its own priorities and the challenge for the Portfolio was to provide a co-ordinated approach that measured performance and took residents needs into consideration.  He was pleased with the direction of travel, but there was still a lot of work to do.  

 

He went on to give an update on the work programme:

 

Completed

A new Business Development Manager had been recruited

Food and Health & Safety services had been reviewed

Housing Advice and Homelessness services had been reviewed

Front Office optimisation had been completed.

 

In Progress

The Environmental Protection service was being reviewed

A strategy was being developed to market key products of the Council to generate income if possible

Benefit realisation was being developed

 

To Do (January to April)

Conclude the Environmental Health reviews

Review Private sector Housing

Implement new ways of working

 

Everything was being looked at and questioned to find improvements and make savings.

 

Mr Rogers asked if there was any chance that the Council would purchase development land for industry as the current owners were not selling small plots.  He explained that there were 646 houses being built in the vicinity and if the Council bought the land and offered it to small businesses it could provide employment opportunities for the residents of the new houses and cut out the need for them to travel to work.

 

Mrs Matthews said that she was impressed with the Contact Centre.  She asked for clarification of the changes to the print room and also for an explanation of the terminology used.

 

Mr Stasiak advised that previously the print room had operated on a kind of ‘ad-hoc’ system with print requests not always being attributed to specific departments.  The new procedure had addressed that problem.  He asked the Business Development Manager to explain the terminology further.

 

The Business Development Manger explained that the reviews that were being done were led by the respective Service Managers, supported by the Business Improvement Team.  They were looking at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Local Development Framework and Core Strategy (Agenda Item 7)

To receive an update on work flows and timelines to facilitate future involvement in the policy making process.

Minutes:

Mr Kiddle-Morris, Executive Member for Assets and Strategic Development introduced David Spencer as the new Joint Deputy Planning Manager, joining Breckland from Capita.

 

The Joint Deputy Planning Manager explained the background to his update.  At the Cabinet meeting in November one recommendation of the Annual Monitoring Report had been to start work on the review of the Core Strategy in 2012.  The Strategy had been adopted in 2009 and was due to be reviewed on a three yearly basis.

 

Since the adoption of the Core Strategy there had been some significant changes and these would be taken into account during the review. These included:

 

·   the Thetford Area Action Plan which included proposals for 5,000 new homes (reduced from 6,500)

·   the Government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

·   the removal of the Regional planning process

·   the review of the European Habitats regulations by DEFRA (at the request of the Secretary of State)

·   the effect on viability of on-going infrastructure work

 

Local Policies would still need to be backed up by local evidence and it was important that the Core Strategy review did not damage the confidence of communities, infrastructure providers and developers in the current LDF.  The review would involve consultation and conclude with an Examination in Public by an Independent Inspector.

 

In the short term, the timeframe for a Review was influenced by the committed work programme with included:

 

·   the Examination in Public of the Thetford Area Action Plan (1st week of March)

·   progressing the Attleborough Area Action Plan

·   progressing the CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy)

 

In the early summer the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework would be available, as would the Government’s Review on the European Habitats, both of which would provide certainty for the way forward with a Core Strategy Review which was likely to form the new Local Plan under the emerging NPPF.

 

Mr Joel congratulated the Deputy Planning Manager on his new job.  He asked when provisions in the new Localism Act relating to Parish Councils could be implemented.

 

Mr Kiddle-Morris explained that within the Localism Act was the Neighbourhood Plan which could be put together by a single Parish Council or a group of parishes.  The Plan could detail what houses, factories, etc a parish wanted.  It had to be pro-growth, conform to the Local Plan and would be subject to an independent examination.  Once those requirements had been met the Plan would need to receive at least 50% of the vote in a local referendum to be adopted.

 

Mr Bambridge was concerned that it would be very difficult for small parishes to develop a Neighbourhood Plan, even if they grouped together, as they might lack expertise and might not be able to afford the costs.  He also questioned whether current restrictions such as Special Areas of Conservation would prevent growth.

 

Mr Kiddle-Morris agreed and said that the Council had not been consulted on the Government’s Review of Habitat Directives.  The Core Strategy and Site Specifics both included a Stone Curlew buffer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Discretionary and Non-Discretionary Services (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To receive a report on the impact of discretionary & non-discretionary services within the authority.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Business Development Manager presented the report which provided a commentary to prompt discussion.  The work summarised in the appendices had been rigorous but did contain flaws and might raise more questions than it answered.

 

It had been very difficult to get answers as there was no definitive list of Discretionary and non-Discretionary services.  He had concluded that it would be difficult to legally define services for budget purposes.  It was not a black and white issue, as the removal of one service could potentially impede the rest of the Council’s functions.

 

As a starting point he suggested that the Council needed to look at what was important for the area, to look at the Service Plan and to decide what was the minimum they wanted to achieve and what resources were available. 

 

In response to a question from Mr Kybird it was confirmed that Car Parking was the responsibility of Asset Management.

 

Councillor Bowes asked if the Council charged for private water supply analysis and also what the annual cost of the MTF Programme Management was (referring to the item listed on page 13 of the supplement).

 

It was agreed that the Development Services Manager would provide more information direct to Councillor Bowes.  Mr Kiddle-Morris was able to advise that the MTF Programme Management was funded by Growth Point money.

 

Mr Bambridge was glad that the report had prompted discussion.  He said that as the Council represented the community it needed to consider what residents wanted and needed.

 

The Chairman noted that some discretionary functions were covered by grant funding and other income.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

9.

Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 9)

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

9a

Housing Task & Finish Group

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 21 December 2011.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the first meeting had been tabled.  The Chairman of the Task & Finish Group said it had been a basic ‘setting out’ meeting.  The next meeting would be held on 20 January 2012.

10.

Shared Services (Agenda Item 10)

The Chief Executive will be in attendance to provide an update.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive had been invited to provide an update on Shared Management with South Holland and to advise Members of progress regarding Great Yarmouth.

 

He was pleased with the way that sharing with South Holland was bedding in.  It was less than 12 months since Shared Management had commenced and in that time they had come a long way.  They had supported both Councils in refreshing their Corporate Plans.  They had also supported the budget preparation at both Councils acknowledging the need to find savings.  To that end the service reviews were on-going in an effort to drive down costs.

 

There had been one joint meeting of the Councils which, due to poor weather, had had a lower turnout than expected, but it had been a successful, informal event.

 

The Chief Executive, together with the Leaders of both Councils, was doing work with the Local Government Association using the Partnership as an example of Good Practice. 

 

However, there were still areas to be worked on and there was no complacency.  There was more fine tuning to be done and two specific issues had been identified as:

 

·   KOGs (Key Managers mostly employed wholly by one authority but taking on additional responsibility) – more support to be provided

·   Members’ expectations concerning availability and contactability – trying to improve.  Visibility was also being addressed by trying to ensure that Senior Managers were available on Council meeting days, etc.

 

Work with Great Yarmouth was on-going.  The timeframe had been delayed, but all three Leaders were still committed.

 

Great Yarmouth had elections every year for one third of their Members and would therefore be having an election in May.  Originally it had been hoped to have the whole process completed by then, but as it would be necessary for all three Councils to hold two Council meetings; one to agree in Principle, subject to a 30 day consultation period, then a second meeting to approve the proposals, it had been decided that that timeframe was unduly hasty.  It had therefore been agreed to have the first Council meeting early in March and the second meeting after the consultation and election, in May, for the final sign off.

 

It was also considered appropriate to align those Council meetings and so special Council meetings would be arranged at all three authorities for early March.  In the meantime at Breckland the proposals would be presented to LJCC on 26 January 2012, then General Purposes, then Cabinet.

 

Mr Bambridge thanked the Chief Executive for an interesting and helpful update.  He thought that communications had already improved recently and asked what had been the biggest problem with joining up and did the Chief Executive think that would be exacerbated by the expansion.

 

The Chief Executive said there had been no big problems.  Having to manage two sets of Members with different expectations had been a challenge which he thought he was getting better at. 

 

The Chairman asked if there would be any correlation of calendars for the three Councils  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Health Scrutiny (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 11)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.

Minutes:

Mr Kybird confirmed that no meetings had been held.

12.

Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 12)

To note whether any decisions have been called-in for scrutiny.

Minutes:

None.

13.

Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 13)

To consider any references.

Minutes:

None.

14.

Work Programme (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 90 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.

Minutes:

Mr Kiddle-Morris was invited to provide the Executive Member update for the next meeting.

15.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 15)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 9 February 2012 at 2pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on 9 February 2012 were noted.