Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

No. Item


Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 26 April 2012.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 26 April 2012 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Apologies and Substitutes (Agenda Item 2)

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


Apologies for absence were received from Mr C Carter.


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.




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.


Mr Kybird declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 8 as a potential developer.


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.


Councillor Gould, Mr W Richmond and Mr F Sharpe were in attendance.  Mr Bambridge joined the meeting during Agenda Item 6.


Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Elizabeth Gould, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within her portfolio and to answer any questions.


Councillor Elizabeth Gould was in attendance to update the Commission on the Planning and Environmental Services Portfolio.


The Portfolio covered the four main areas of Planning, Building Control, Environmental Health and Housing.  She gave a brief outline of the current priorities and key developments within each area.



Jeff Upton had been appointed as Interim Planning & Building Control Manager and was the lead officer locally for Capita Symonds.  Difficulties in contacting Capita Symonds staff had been addressed.  Answer phones were no longer used with the exception of the Enforcement team which only had 1.6 members of staff.  The out-of-office e-mails had also been improved.


It had become clear that a number of the current performance targets, which had been set at the start of the contract, were no longer relevant.  They were being reviewed in partnership with Capita Symonds.  Measures were being developed to streamline the processing of straightforward planning applications.  There was also a drive to improve the enforcement service.  A new protocol had been drafted, which would support the quick resolution of cases by determining at an early stage which were expedient to pursue and which were not.


Building Control

Work had started on a major IT upgrade for Planning and Building Control.  Investment was being made by both the Council and Capita Symonds.  The IT improvements would help to make the website more customer-friendly and would display information in an easily accessible manner.  It would also facilitate improved working practices.


Environmental Health & Licensing

These areas were currently under review across both Breckland and South Holland.  The HR process had been completed and the following officers had been appointed to key roles working across both authorities:


·   Richard Boole              Environmental Protection Manager

·   Craig Fowler                Health & Safety Manager

·   Fiona Inston                  Licensing Manager


Andrew Grimley and Sarah Shipley had been appointed as Breckland Team Leaders.


The review was on track to make projected savings and efficiencies.  A procurement process was underway to provide ICT to support the teams.


The Food Health and Safety team were currently working on raising standards in food premises.  The National Food rating scheme was in use with a top score of five and a minimum score of zero.  It was important to raise public awareness and encourage people to look for premises with the top score.  The team were also working closely with a number of businesses in the district as part of the FSA Primary Authority scheme, as well as working on a number of legal cases where businesses had breached Health & Safety legislation.


Within the Environmental Protection team the dog warden service continued to demonstrate benefits and to show efficiency savings.


The Licensing Team were working to understand the implications of the new Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act.



The Housing Service was going through a period of significant change.  Each element of the service was being reviewed and a number of key policies were being reshaped to make the service more flexible and to allow greater local determination, enabled by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.


Governance & Performance Monitoring Report (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Assistant Director for Democratic Services.

Additional documents:


The Assistant Director for Democratic Services presented the report.


It was the first quarterly report generated by the new Performance Plus system and contained all the projects, performance indicators and risks that had been identified in Service Business Plans.  It was a comprehensive report that showed Members what the new system could provide.  Future reports would not contain as much information.


Members were asked to provide their views on the most appropriate format for future reporting.  The following headings had been suggested:


·   Projects not on track;

·   Performance indicators that were consistently below target;

·   High risks; and

·   Audit recommendations that had not been actioned.


Good news outcomes would also be reported. 


Mr Kybird asked that in addition to the four suggested headings, new risks and risks that had been dropped should also be reported.


The Chairman noted that the report was very complicated and the red triangles and question marks were worrying and needed more explanation.  For future he asked that items that had exceeded expectations should also be looked at to find out why they were doing so well. 


Mr Kybird thought it was a good idea to see the whole list once a year as it gave an indication of context.  The Chairman agreed.


Mr Bambridge suggested that the whole list should be available for Members on the Intranet.  He thought that more sophisticated data was required.


The Assistant Director explained that the Performance system was still being populated with data and more information would be available in the next couple of months.  The new system had extensive capabilities and the facility to tailor reports for individual Executive Members. 


The Chairman suggested that in future when an Executive Member updated the Commission on their Portfolio their tailored report should be provided.


The Assistant Director advised that in future any issues would be highlighted and reported to the Commission before being presented to Cabinet.  Reports would also be available on the Intranet in a few months time.


The following suggestions for additions/improvements to the report were RECOMMENDED TO CABINET

·   New risks and risks that had been removed should be noted in future reports.

·   An explanatory note was required at the start of each section and should include information on why targets were not being met, or were being exceeded.

·   Detailed explanations were needed to accompany the symbols

·   Comments columns should not be left blank

·   Not all items should be reported quarterly – attention should be focussed on areas of concern and where performance was exceeding expectations

Annually the report should be presented in full.


The Chairman thanked the Assistant Director and asked her to report to the Commission again in three months.


Air Quality Monitoring (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Report of the Assistant Director for Commissioning.

Additional documents:


The Scientific Officer Environmental Protection presented the report which had been requested by the Commission.


The Council had a statutory duty to ensure that air quality met National objectives.  New development could have a significant impact on air quality.  The Technical Guidance document attached to the report had been developed by the Norfolk Environmental Pollution Group and colleagues in Suffolk to assist planning colleagues and developers on pollution control measures.


It was hoped that the guidance would bring consistency to the requirements for new developments in respect of air quality.  The Planning Officers at Breckland were very supportive of the guidance and it was recommended that the document should be adopted and issued to Planners, developers and their agents.


Mr Kybird was aware that there was a problem with air quality in Swaffham where National limits had been exceeded.  However local air quality was still very clean compared to other parts of the country.


Mr Sharpe, speaking as a Swaffham Councillor, was concerned that the additional 600 homes already granted planning permission, would increase traffic and cause more problems.  There was nothing in those planning permissions to regulate air pollution. 


The Chairman agreed.  He was aware of two applications on the agenda for the next Planning Committee which could also cause significant air quality problems.


The Scientific Officer advised that Swaffham was the only area locally that had a problem and they were working to declare an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) there.  That would have a significant effect on the control of polluting effects.  Consultants had been employed to work on the declaration, which had a cost to Breckland.  However, if the Technical Guidance could be adopted it would encourage developers to consider traffic mitigation measures at an early stage of development which could prevent worsening air quality.


Mr Gilbert asked if a developer could say that they were reducing pollution if the previous use of a site had been industrial and the Scientific Officer advised that major industrial uses had to have permits which limited their emissions.


It was RESOLVED to RECOMMEND TO CABINET that that the Technical Guidance document be adopted and issued to Planners, Developers and Agents.


Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 9)

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


Bunker & Business Continuity T&FG

To receive a verbal update from the T&FG Chairman.


Mr Kybird, Chairman of the T&FG advised that they had had one meeting but business had not been concluded.  He advised Members of the works carried out at the Bunker which included the installation of a fire alarm and the disconnection of electrical appliances.


The remaining equipment in the bunker would be removed and then document storage would be transferred to the bunker to release other rentable units.


The issue of a generator for Elizabeth House was being looked at in conjunction with business continuity.  The Deputy Chief Executive would be chairing a group of managers to redefine the priority services required.  The T&FG could not make any recommendations until those had been identified.


Health & Scrutiny (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 44 KB

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.

Additional documents:


The report from Lady Fisher was noted.


Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 11)

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




Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 12)

To consider any references.




Work Programme (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 76 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 Forward Plan is attached for Members’ information.

Additional documents:


The Chairman noted that the Utilities meeting had still not been organised because of problems getting the different companies to attend, but he said that it still needed to be pursued.


With regard to the Forward Plan he noted that the Thetford Area Action Plan would be presented to Council on 5 July 2012.  There was no time for the Commission to look at that before the Council meeting, but they could look at it afterwards.


Mr Kybird suggested that the cost of Parish Council elections should also be scrutinised.  Mr Rogers noted that it was not worth Parishes calling elections because it was too expensive.


Members were reminded to put forward items for the work programme.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 14)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 19 July 2012.


The arrangements for the meeting on 19 July 2012 were noted.


Exclusion of Press and Public (Agenda Item 15)

To consider passing the following resolution:


“That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.”






RESOLVED that under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involved the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.


Serco Contract (Agenda Item 16)

Report of the Environmental Services Manager.


The Environmental Services Manager presented the report which set out the options for the provision of the Environmental Services contract post 2015.


The costs of the current service had been compared to the prices of ‘nearest neighbour’ authorities and were set out in the table at Appendix A to the report.  It was clear that the contract was providing good value for money.


Customer satisfaction was measured regularly and performance was good.


Three options for the way forward were provided in the report.


Mr Gilbert agreed that the service provided good value for money.  He asked if it would be possible for cut grass to be collected as it looked a mess when left.  He also suggested that areas should be litter-picked before the grass was cut.


The Vice-Chairman asked what use was made of the information gathered by the Customer Service surveys as they cost a lot of money.  The Environmental Services Manager accepted that there was the potential to make more use of that information. 


The Chairman suggested that an additional column was needed on the table at Appendix A to clarify whether service was provided in-house or not.


It was RESOLVED to RECOMMEND TO CABINET that the Option at paragraph 4.1 of the report be supported.