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)

To confirm the:


Minutes of the meeting held on 19 June 2014 pdf icon PDF 93 KB


The Minutes of the meeting held on 19 June 2014 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Minutes of the Special meeting held on 24 July 2014 pdf icon PDF 87 KB


The Minutes of the Special meeting held on 24 July 2014 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 Councillors Jermy and Rogers.  Councillor Armes was present as Substitute for Councillor Jermy.


Councillor Matthews had advised that she would be arriving late.  (She joined the meeting during Agenda Item 6).


Apologies had also been received from Councillor Jolly as Portfolio Holder for Agenda Item 7.


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 Turner and Wassell were in attendance.



Broadband for Breckland (Agenda Item 6)

To receive a presentation by Karen O’Kane, Norfolk County Council.


Ms Karen O’Kane (Norfolk County Council) updated Members on progress with Broadband since her initial presentation to Council.


£12million of funding had been invested in improving coverage for Norfolk.  Previously only 43% of commercial properties had access to Broadband.  That figure was now 83% and was expected to rise to 92%. 


To provide additional coverage the District Councils in Norfolk had been invited to make a contribution which would be match funded by the Government.   Five of the seven local authorities had done so, providing £3.2million which had been matched by the Government giving a total of £6.4million which would be spent in those five local authority areas only.


Consultations had been carried out with the provider market aimed mainly at the infrastructure providers.  No objections had been raised and therefore an Invitation to Tender had been issued on 22 August.  It was hoped that the process would be complete by the New Year.  After the contract had been completed British Telecom would be invited to discuss coverage of the areas that were still not served by Broadband and the costs of providing that coverage.  It was expected that a decision would be taken in the summer of 2015 on which areas to progress.


The Leader of the Council noted that Breckland had been the first District Council to contribute and they had given the most money.  There had been a very short timescale to make that decision.  Although the details of which areas would not be covered were not yet known, it was expected that about 8% of Norfolk would still be without Superfast Broadband.  As there would not be an opportunity to increase the amount for match funding at a later date the Council had made the decision to commit more money than the amount suggested to cover the eventuality that a higher percentage of those areas might be within the District. 


From a Breckland Council perspective improved coverage gave residents the ability to run businesses from all areas and for school children to be able to do homework with access to the internet.  The Government were encouraging people to do more on-line and many farmers did their returns in that way.


Councillor Kybird advised that many rural secondary schools had made the least improvements in GCSE results and that poor access to Broadband might be a factor.


In response to a question Ms O’Kane advised that about 8% of the Norfolk population worked from home.  The Chairman thought that was an under-estimate and that the actual figure was a lot higher.  The estimate had been based on the number of business lines in use, but he knew of many small businesses which ran using residential lines.  He was keen to understand how the decision would be made on which communities would benefit from the investment.


The Leader responded saying that unless there were technical reasons which prevented it the Council could make the decisions on where the money was spent.  They would be difficult decisions and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.


Rate Relief Review (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Report of the Head of ARP.

Additional documents:


The Leader of the Council introduced the item on behalf of the Executive Member for Finance & Democratic Services.  The report set out proposals to allow rate relief where it would do most good.  It was a discretionary function and Members could make the decisions.


The Strategic Manager (Revenues) (ARP) presented the report which proposed that the same level of support be provided to those organisations that were providing a service, but that organisations that had large financial reserves would cease to receive relief.  Appendix B to the report set out the organisations that would no longer be eligible.  It was noted that the vast majority of those previously in receipt of rate relief would continue to be supported.


Councillor Gilbert remarked that almost all charities seemed to be excluded and he was advised that the rate relief was specifically targeted at local charities that operated in the District only.  However, each application was assessed on a case by case basis and there were no hard and fast rules, only guidelines.


The Chairman asked about the exclusion of organisations that sold confectionary, as he thought that many general village stores would be affected by that.  It was pointed out that as long as the store sold the majority of its goods (excluding confectionary) for human consumption it would still qualify for relief.


The reference to the Autumn Statement on page 28 of the agenda was clarified.  The extra £1,000 relief for properties up to £50,000 rateable value was provided by funding from the Government at no cost to the Council.


The Leader of the Council asked if rate relief impinged on a Local Authorities ability to retain a percentage of the growth in business rates income.


The Head of ARP advised that the general principle was that the Council should pay 40% but with the new guidelines the Council would be paying slightly less relief.


The Chairman thanked the Officers for their report.


Task & Finish Group (Agenda Item 8)

To receive an update from the Chairman of the Watton Medical Practice Task & Finish Group.



Councillor Kybird updated Members on the work of the Watton Medical Practice Task & Finish Group (T&FG).


The Norfolk Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee had issued a briefing note which included information on the 1500 patients de-registered by Watton Medical Practice.  He would be attending their next meeting but that issue was not on the agenda.  If the Chairman allowed it he would speak to the Committee about the collection of evidence.


A Newsletter issued by the Watton Medical Practice had been brought to his attention by Councillor Bowes.  She had raised concerns that it was overtly political and its content had not been substantiated.  Councillor Kybird suggested that the matter should be taken up by the local MP.  He would try to get it put on the NHOSC agenda for the next meeting.


Councillor Matthews advised the Commission that one of the GP surgeries in Swaffham had purchased additional land for an extension but the NHS had said no to their proposals.  The surgery had received extra patients from Watton and that had not been considered.


The Chairman thought that there was more health scrutiny work to do.  He suggested that guidelines and parameters should be set and a plan drawn up for the T&FG to continue working.  The surgeries that had received additional patients from the Watton de-registration should be contacted and asked if they were being supported. 


From the work already done it was clear that prescribing practices were in a better position than non-prescribing practices and the reasons behind that needed to be understood.

The Deputy Leader advised that the matter remained on the Health & Wellbeing Board agenda.  Her own local surgery in Shipdham was working with other Practice Managers to project ahead for patient numbers from housing growth.  They also had a strong patient participation group.


Councillor Armes had received a full report from her local Patient’s Group and Watton had been discussed at their meeting.  She would forward a copy of the report to Councillor Kybird for information.


Councillor Byrne was concerned that access to information might be restricted due to confidentiality issues.


The Chairman agreed that they needed to know all the facts to get evidence to pass on and up.  The T&FG had gone Below the Line to discuss confidential information which had given them a greater understanding of the effects of the de-registration and the issues it had raised.


Councillor C Carter had received feedback from his residents.  They were very pleased that the Council was following up on their concerns.


Councillor Kybird advised that there was an item on the NHOSC agenda concerning the Joint Commissioning of GP Services.  The problem was that there could be a conflict of interest as the Commissioning body was made up of GPs.  He thought that might be an item for NHOSC to look at.


The Chairman was aware that GPs received extra money to put people on Statins.  Doctors were paid to do things that patients did not know about.  They  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.


Health Scrutiny (Agenda Item 9)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.


This had been discussed under Agenda Item 8 (See Minute No 52/14 above).



Work Programme (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 77 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 Chairman advised that Executive briefings would recommence at the next meeting.  There was to be a re-alignment of functions so that items on future agendas would be relevant to the Executive Member attending.


The Deputy Leader commented that she would be providing the Executive briefing at the meeting on 20 November.  Her update would not include Environmental Services as she would be focussing on the Community side of her Portfolio.  She had a new Environmental Services Manager starting on 1 October and would provide an update on that area at a later meeting.


The Chairman advised Members that he had had a meeting with the Executive Director for Commissioning & Governance (who had special responsibility for Scrutiny) and the Scrutiny Officer.  They would be refocusing their efforts on Scrutiny.  If Members had any requests for items to be put on the work programme they should contact the Scrutiny Officer.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 13)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 9 October 2014.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 9 October 2014 were noted.


The Chairman suggested that the Commission should hold some future meetings in the Market Towns as they had done in the past.  However, several Members commented that that had not produced the desired results of encouraging attendance by the public.

Councillor Gilbert thought that if the agenda contained an item relevant to a specific location, it would make sense to hold the meeting in that area.