Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 12 September 2013.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 12 September 2013 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 Councillor Cowen and Councillor Irving.


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.


Members wished Councillor Kybird a very Happy Birthday.


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.


Councillors Bambridge, Bowes, Chapman-Allen, North, Robinson, Turner and Wassell were in attendance.


Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Councillor Michael Wassell has been invited to attend the meeting to provide an update as Leader of the Council.


Councillor Wassell reminded Members that he had only been appointed as Leader of the Council one month and twelve days before.  He said it had been a steep learning curve but he had been supported by the Officers and had received a good briefing from the previous Leader.


His style was open and he had a consultative approach.  He expected high standards and believed that mutual respect was vital on both sides.


He was delighted to have appointed Councillor Turner as his Deputy as they worked very well together.  He believed that the Executive team was strong and had a mixture of talents that would serve the Council and residents of Breckland well.


As each Executive Member would present to the Commission on their own Portfolios his update would focus on the key strategic areas.


Medium Term Financial Plan

The initial draft would be presented to Cabinet on 3 December, prior to public consultation.  The draft Government settlement was due in December.  The final Plan would be presented to Cabinet on 11 February 2014 and to Council on 27 February, along with the Council Tax setting report.


It was currently expected that the budget would balance in 2013/14 but the future of the plan would be dependent on the Transformation Programme delivering on-going income and efficiencies.  The strategic use of balances in the next two years would buy time to set up a robust programme to reduce the funding gap over the longer term.


Transformation Programme

The main objective of the programme was to bridge the budget gap over the next five years.  The Shared Management Team (SMT) was accountable for identifying opportunities, defining the business case and realising the outcomes of the programme.  Elected Members would make the decisions regarding implementation.


The programme had a two-pronged approach.  It would seek to make efficiencies where possible and to increase income.  Some strategic ‘enabling’ projects had been identified and were currently at the proposal stage.  They included:


·        Shared procurement and contract management;

·        A joint customer access strategy;

·        The introduction of shared document management and other technologies to improve working practice; and

·        Strategic ICT


Breckland and South Holland Councils had been awarded £385,000 between them from a Government pot of £6.9million to support and promote shared service projects.  Only projects with a clear and proven benefit to the taxpayer would proceed.


A Procurement and Contract Management report and another on Customer Access were scheduled to be presented to Council on 7 January 2014.  The Leader suggested that the Transformation Programme should be reviewed as part of the Commission’s work programme.


Shared Management and Services

The initial project brief in October 2013 had been to reduce the cost of shared management across Breckland and South Holland by about £700,000.  The structure implemented in April 2011 was estimated to have reduced costs by £1.075million.  Further savings were still being sought with on-going reviews of service provision.


Both Councils remained as separate, democratically accountable bodies.  There was no requirement for common provision of services except  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.


Planning for Future Development in Breckland (Agenda Item 7)

The following agencies have been invited to update Members on their plans for dealing with future development in the District:


Adam Ireland from the Environment Agency (EA) and Sue Bull from Anglian Water (AW) were in attendance and each gave a PowerPoint presentation.


The Environment Agency was governed by legislation including the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and European Union obligations in the Water Framework Directive (EUWFD).


The agency welcomed the opportunity to work with the Council to assist in the formation of the new Local Plan.  Natural environment Policies in the Plan needed to be evidence based and should set out the strategic priorities to address the provision of water supply and waste water.  The aim of the Policies should be to prevent new or existing development being put at risk by water pollution.  Adequate infrastructure was needed to support sustainable development.


Contamination was an important issue for consideration, as was flood risk and climate change.  There was also a legal duty to co-operate between Planning Authorities and other bodies.


The EA was the lead authority for implementing the EUWFD.  That required waters to be managed sustainably and maintained to good physical standards, defined in the River Basin Management Plan.


Potential constraints on growth in Dereham and Attleborough had been identified in the outline Water Cycle Study commenced in 2007.  Potential solutions had been identified to facilitate further growth.  During the development of the Council’s Core Strategy it had been agreed that monitoring should take place and the additional data available provided an opportunity to revisit and update the study.  During the new Local Plan preparation the water strategy would need to be reassessed to consider changes brought about by the economic climate.  Problems would be identified and ways to address them would be sought, together with means of funding.


In response to a question raised about the de-silting of Nunns Bridges in Thetford, Mr Ireland advised that watercourse management was determined through medium and long term plans.  Work was focussed on the areas with the greatest flood risk as the EA had to concentrate on reducing risk to the public and property.


In summary, the EA would be working with officers on the Local Plan process to assess water infrastructure requirements and to address the issues.  The EUWFD was aimed at reconnecting people with quality rivers and spaces.


Councillor Turner asked what the EA was doing about a large fly-tipping problem on private land in the district and Mr Ireland asked her to provide the details so that he could look into the matter.


Councillor Bambridge thought it was important that the EA looked at large planning applications in rural areas with regard to flood risk as in some cases developers were discharging to ditches that did not go anywhere.  He thought that the Agency should take a more rigorous approach.  Mr Ireland advised that there was a duty on landowners to keep ditches clear and the Agency had to focus on main rivers.  The EA did look at sites over one hectare and required specific drainage details which included looking at the impact on receiving watercourses, but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.


Health Scrutiny (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 8)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Kybird had circulated the outcomes and actions from the Norfolk Health Scrutiny meeting held the previous week.  He also mentioned a detailed report on King’s Lynn hospital’s problems in recruiting locally due to poor educational standards.


Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 9)

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


Nothing to report.


Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)(Agenda Item 10)

To consider any references.


Nothing to report.


Work Programme (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 80 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 Scrutiny Officer advised that following the comments of the Leader in his update she would add reviews of the Transformation Project and the Safer Neighbourhood Teams to the work programme.


The Chairman was keen for the Housing Associations to be invited to the next meeting so that Members could ask them about their management of the housing stock.


The Leader of the Council suggested that they could also be asked about their policy on disabled adaptations.  It seemed that the Housing Associations did not currently keep a record of which properties had been modified.


Councillor Bambridge noted that a review of Rate Relief was on the future items list and should be considered in time for the end of the financial year.


Councillor Kybird also asked that an update on the Business Continuity Plan should be added to the programme.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 12)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 21 November 2013.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 21 November 2013 were noted.