Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

67.

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 October 2013.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 October 2013 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

68.

Apologies and Substitutes (Agenda Item 2)

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

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Byrne and Kybird.

Councillors Bambridge and Bowes were present as Substitutes.

69.

Declaration of Interests (Agenda Item 4)

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate and must leave the room, for the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest. 

 

In the interests of transparency, Members may also wish to declare any other interests they have in relation to an agenda item, that support the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

For transparency, Councillor Irving declared that she was employed by Brandon Lewis MP in a constituency capacity.

70.

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:

Councillors Armes, Borrett, T Carter, Chapman-Allen, Jolly, Jordan, Nairn, Turner and Wassell were in attendance.

71.

Extension of existing ERDF funded LEGE/Grants4Growth Programme (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Report of the Economic Development Manager.

Minutes:

Simon Best, Programme Manager and Susan Smith, Financial Claims Manager, introduced themselves to Members.

 

The Programme Manager presented the report.  The Council had been approached by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with a proposal to take more money to extend the existing Local Enterprise Growth and Efficiency (LEGE)/Grants4Growth Programme.  The additional funding would have no resource implications and would enable the provision of larger grants of £100,000.  With the smaller grants it was very difficult to provide evidence of cost savings.  However, with larger grants savings, efficiencies and additional jobs could be more easily identified.

 

Councillor Gilbert supported the proposal but asked for clarification of the term ‘intervention rate’ mentioned on page 10.  It was explained that the term referred to the maximum percentage funding that would be provided to any project. 

 

Councillor Joel asked whether it would be possible to spend the additional funding before the project concluded at the end of 2013.  He was advised that the project would actually run until December 2015.  The 2013 date referred to the period when money would be clawed back from any underperforming projects.  It was confirmed that there was plenty of time to spend the money and demand for the funding was high.  The biggest issue would be ensuring that it was distributed fairly.

 

Councillor Bambridge asked if the funding was for new businesses only and the Programme Manager explained that the funding was for new and existing small and medium ‘enterprises’ whose work involved implicit transactions.  Therefore businesses, charities and voluntary organisations could apply.


The Chairman asked how the funding would be awarded.  The most likely way would be by ‘open call’.  Applications would be submitted which explained the merits of a project and they would be compared on a like for like basis with those providing the greatest outputs being successful.  It was hoped that that process could commence by the end of Quarter One in 2014.  That would give sufficient time for active marketing if there was not enough interest.

 

The Chairman asked whether £2million was the right sum; would it be sufficient or would it be a struggle to spend it?

 

The Programme Manager advised that it was a conservative sum which reflected the very real and latent demand with minimum risk to the Council.

 

Finally the Chairman asked whether the money would all be spent within the Breckland area.  It was pointed out that the money was for the project target area which covered the four Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) zones which included a large part of East Anglia.  However, it was noted that out of 44 grants awarded so far, 16 had been within Breckland District.

 

RESOLVED to RECOMMEND TO CABINET & COUNCIL that the offer of additional funding of £2 million from the East of England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme for the Council’s current Local Enterprise Growth and Efficiency project (LEGE), branded as Grants4Growth, be accepted.

 

The Chairman said it was great news for Breckland and wished the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.

72.

Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 9)

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

72a

Town/Parish Council Localised Council Tax Grant pdf icon PDF 58 KB

At the Cabinet meeting held on 29 October 2013 it had been decided that the Town and Parish share of the Local Council Tax Support Grant be removed completely.  A copy of the printed decision notice and the report to Cabinet are attached for information.

 

This decision has been called in by the following Members:

 

Councillor Jermy - who wrote: I wish to write and request that the decision taken by Cabinet on Tuesday (29th October) i.e. ‘Town/Parish Council localised Council Tax Grant’ - is ‘called-in’ to be discussed by the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Commission. I do this on the basis that I do not feel that the Cabinet adequately assessed the impact that this decision would have, particularly given the additional costs that parish and town councils are facing given Breckland’s continued transfer of services and responsibilities to them. It is particularly disappointing that parish and town councils were not consulted about this decision in advance to ascertain the implications to them and I feel that the Council has a responsibility to do this.

 

Councillors Bambridge and Matthews who each wrote:

I would like to call in the Executive Decision made in Cabinet on Tuesday 29th October 2013 regarding the Town/Parish Council Localised Council Tax Grant. My reasons are that this decision affects all of the wards in the district and therefore deserves a wider consideration of members of the council than that provided in Cabinet. And further that the OSC is the body to achieve this.

 

Councillors Irving, Jordan, R Richmond and Rogers who each wrote:

My reasons are that this decision affects all of the wards in the district and therefore deserves a wider consideration of members of the council than that provided in Cabinet.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman noted that a number of Councillors had called-in the item.  Mr Roger Atterwill, Chairman of Swanton Morley Parish Council was also in attendance and he was invited to put his point of view first.

 

Mr Atterwill said that he had been very disappointed about the lack of consultation with the Parishes.  He had found out about the decision from the local paper which he did not consider good practice.  There was an emphasis on Localism from Central Government but in this case they had been dictated to.

 

On the DCLG website it said that in allocating funding the Government clearly expected that Council’s would pass funds down to parishes to reduce precepts, although he acknowledged that 2014/15 was not mentioned. 

 

In the presentation to Cabinet a table of options had been provided.  Times were tough but he asked why more credence had not been given to Option B – to reduce the funding to parishes.  That option was revenue neutral.  Otherwise the Council would be gaining money.  He asked that the decision be reconsidered.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Atterwill for his comments which were very useful.  He then went on to say that he had not been able to attend the Cabinet meeting when the item was discussed.  However, all Members could attend and had the opportunity to comment at Cabinet.  He did not feel it was Scrutiny’s purpose to debate what should have been debated at Cabinet.  He pointed out that many of the Councillors that had called in the decision had done so for that reason.  Councillor Jermy’s call in was different.  Like Mr Atterwill he did not believe that the matter had been adequately assessed.  Members were asked to consider whether they thought it had been dealt with effectively.

 

Councillor Jordan felt that Cabinet had not given enough weight to what the Government had said.  There was nothing in the report to say there was no money for the parishes.

 

The Vice-Chairman said that he had also been unable to attend the Cabinet meeting.  He had called the item in because he thought the decision was flawed.  He was also a Town Councillor and he knew the really grave effect that the decision would have and he felt that the towns and parishes should have been consulted.

 

The Chairman invited the Member with direct Portfolio responsibility for the decision to respond.  Councillor Jolly, Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services set the scene and explained how things had happened.  Firstly she said the report title had been incorrect.  It should have been Local Council Tax Support Grant.  The support grant replaced Council Tax benefits which used to be 100% Government funded.  That had been reduced to 85-90% resulting in a fall in the tax base and the increase to Council Tax.  Parishes had been advised that some funding would be provided as a transitional grant by Breckland Council – although they had been under no obligation to provide it.  The amount of the grant had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72a

73.

Work Programme (Agenda Item 11) 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 Key Decision Plan is attached for Members’ information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman asked Members to give consideration to items to put forward for the work programme.

 

The Vice-Chairman asked whether the Housing Associations had been contacted as he was aware that Members were keen to question them about matters such as housing stock management, repairs and garage forecourts.

74.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 12)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Thursday 30 January 2014.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on 30 January 2014 were noted.