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)

To confirm the minutes of the meetings held on:

1a

9 October 2014 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 9 October 2014 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

The Chairman noted that there had been a frank discussion at the meeting about the quality and type of service provided by Norfolk County Council.  Since then he had received a briefing note from the Interim Head of ICT which would be e-mailed to Members.  In summary there had been a marked improvement in the relationship and delivery of services from NCC.  ICT would be back on the agenda for the February meeting when Members would receive a comprehensive update.

 

1b

20 November 2014 pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 20 November 2014 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 for absence were received from Councillor D Irving.

 

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 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:

None.

 

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:

Councillors Bambridge, Jolly, Sherwood, Turner and Wassell were in attendance.

 

6.

Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Councillor Ellen Jolly, Executive Member for Finance, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within her portfolio and to answer any questions.

Minutes:

Councillor Ellen Jolly, Executive Member for Finance had been invited to update the Commission on her Portfolio.  At her previous visit to the Commission she had given an overview of the roles and core responsibilities of her Portfolio.  This time she updated Members on the following current issues.

 

·        The Audit Committee had approved a new risk based approach to internal audit.  There had been problems with outstanding audit recommendations in the past and with the new process the aim was to address 100% of those matters.  Currently 89% had been dealt with.

 

·        The withdrawal of the Co-operative Bank meant that the Council had had to find a new banker and was in the progress of a transition to Barclays Bank which should be completed by early February.  It had caused an enormous amount of work for the Finance Team and she thanked them for their efforts.

 

·        With regard to the Council’s money in Iceland she was able to advise that overall £10.9 out of £12million had been recovered so far. 

 

·        The External Audit report had raised no issues, which was a very good sign.

 

·        The Finance Team had been providing support for the Local Asset Backed Vehicle (LABV) project.  The project had required a shift in traditional requirements with a more pro-active regenerative role.  Those skills would be required in other Council projects.  The project had been challenging and she commended the Officers for doing a very good job.

 

She then gave a short presentation on the Anglia Revenues & Benefits Partnership (ARP) which had been added to her Portfolio.  The Partnership had started in 2003 with two Councils (Breckland and Forest Heath) and had recently expanded to seven Councils with two Members from each Council sitting on the ARP Joint Committee (JC).  Each Council received monthly performance reports on the Revenues and Benefits service.  Performance was good as the Partnership was an extremely efficient operation.

 

The ARP JC had delegated authority to the Operational Improvement Board (OIB) which was made up of Directors from each of the member Councils.  They advised the Joint Committee of changes in legislation and identified and prioritised any issues.

 

Members were given information about the size of the ARP in National terms and were advised about current projects and future challenges to the Partnership.

 

Councillor Gilbert thought that the Partnership was a fantastic success but he asked if it was getting too big.

 

Councillor Jolly said it was working well at the moment but that the introduction of Universal Credit was a big challenge and no-one knew how that would pan out.  All Members were cautious about future growth.  She went on to advise Members that ICT for the ARP was managed by West Suffolk and they were already PSN (Public Services Network) compliant.  A business continuity plan was being developed.  Data was backed up at two different centres for security.  All Partners could connect to the network through safe links and if anything happened to Breckland House in Thetford staff could be deployed and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Draft Corporate Plan and Budget (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Report of the Interim Corporate Improvement and Performance Manager.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director Place gave a short presentation which provided Members with a high level strategic overview of the budget to give them an interpretation of the ‘big picture’.

 

For 2015/16 the Council had a balanced budget with no dependency on reserves, or ‘yet to be identified’ in-year savings and all services would be maintained, as would a healthy balance in the reserves.

 

When the budget had been set the previous year it had been expected that the Council would have a balanced budget but there had been a picture of increasing deficits and the strategy had been to use the reserves in the short term to reduce those deficits.  However, half way through that budget there were only small deficits and no dependency on reserves.  The reason for that was that the Council had been successful in delivering efficiencies.  Shifting the stance to a longer term strategic view the aim was to seek a sustainable financial position across the full Medium Term of the budget.  By maximising opportunities the Council would be in a balanced position over the next two years.  There would be a £1million deficit in four years, but there was time to address that.

 

In terms of the District, there would be no reduction in services; free parking would continue; there would be no increase in Council Tax; the Parish Support Grant would be maintained; and there would be additional investment in growth.

 

Local Government funding had changed.  It used to be based on need but it was now focused more on success.  Councils with the most growth and new homes would benefit the most.  It therefore made sense to focus resources on the growth agenda.

 

Members were shown a pie-chart which showed where the Council’s money came from.  The reason the Council was so well placed was due to its successful investment portfolio which gave an annual income which was equal to what the Council received from its Central Government Grant and from Council Tax.  It illustrated the healthy distribution of income sources, for example only 10p in each pound that the Council spent came from Council Tax.

 

Copies of the presentation were available for Members and would be given out at the Town & Parish Council Forum on 15 January 2015. 

 

With regard to the Revenue Budget, the Executive Director Place felt that the Council was well placed to secure a sustainable position with a balanced budget over the medium term and a realistic savings target for a planned and resourced transformation programme.

 

With regard to the £15million capital spending proposed, there was only £11million available in capital resources.  There were two kinds of money; capital could only be spent on capital, but revenue could be spent anywhere.  Due to prudent budgeting in previous years the Council would have revenue reserves of about £14million by the end of the Plan.

 

There was still the challenge of the £1million gap in four years to address but the Council had already secured three times that amount in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Health Scrutiny (Agenda Item 8)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.

Minutes:

Councillor Kybird had submitted the comments he had received from Members about the consultation on the Watton Medical Practice redefining its boundaries.  He had also sent Members an update.

 

A Task & Finish Group was to be set up to look at recruitment issues generally and he would be part of that Group.

 

 

9.

Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 9)

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

Minutes:

None.

 

10.

Councillor Call for Action (Agenda Item 10)

To consider any references.

Minutes:

None.

 

11.

Work Programme (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 71 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 noted that Environmental Services work including flytipping, recycling, contracts, etc and ICT would be discussed at the next meeting on 12 February 2015.

 

Councillor Gilbert suggested that when Councillor Gould attended for the March meeting someone from the Housing Advice Team should be invited to give an overview of their work, as that formed part of Councillor Gould’s portfolio.  It would be good to hear about the difference they could make to people’s lives.

 

The Chairman agreed. 

 

At the next meeting there would be an opportunity for Members to quiz the Leader of the Council on the new equipment that would be issued to Members.

 

Councillor Kybird asked for Byelaws to be added to the future work programme to find out who operated them and whether they worked.

 

12.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 12)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 12 February 2015 at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham NR19 1EE.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on 12 February 2015 at 2pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham, were noted.