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 30 July 2015 pdf icon PDF 102 KB


The Minutes of the meeting held on 30 July 2015 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


To confirm the minutes of the Special meeting held on 17 September 2015 pdf icon PDF 92 KB


The Minutes of the Special meeting held on 17 September 2015 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 S Chapman-Allen, Oliver and Webb.


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 Interests (Agenda Item 4)

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate in 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 that they have, in relation to an agenda item that supports the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.


No declarations were made.


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, T Carter, M Chapman-Allen, Clarke, Dimoglou, Hollis, Newton, Sharpe, Turner, Wassell and Wilkinson were in attendance and were welcomed to the meeting.


Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

Lynda Turner, Deputy Leader & Executive Member for People & Information, has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within the IT and Performance areas of her portfolio and to answer any questions.


Councillor Lynda Turner, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for People & Information gave a brief update on the IT and Performance areas of her portfolio.


In the previous week the last of the ‘new’ Councillors had received their laptop.  Half of all Councillors were yet to collect their new mobile phones.  The deadline for that had been set as 15 December 2015.


The IT Team were working through the list of Members with IT issues.  All Members had been provided with the number for Desktop Support and that line was being added to a hunt group.


Progress had been made on the following:

·       IT refresh for Officers was almost complete

·       the Council was Public Services Network (PSN) compliant 

·       Shared Managers had received new equipment

·       Wireless Broadband was available at Elizabeth House

·       New microphones would be fitted in the Conference Suite

·       Connectivity issues between Dereham and Thetford were being looked at

·       the Licensing system was being upgraded

·       CITRIX had been upgraded and had new features

·       Microsoft e-mail exchange had been upgraded to 13


There were a few risks and issues:

·       the Outlook Address book was very out of date

·       more work was needed to improve the Disaster Recovery system

·       the service from NCC – regular governance meetings were taking place and alternative options were being prepared


With regard to Corporate Improvement & Performance the Council had historically used a system that was not fit for purpose.  Interim measures had been time consuming for Officers and so the decision had been made to purchase a new high quality system – Covalent.  The system would allow the tracking and management of performance indicators, risks, projects, complaints and freedom of information requests.  It was a web hosted system and could be accessed remotely.


There had been a phased approach to its implementation and the first report was being presented to Scrutiny (Agenda Item 8).  The Performance Framework was being reviewed to ensure that the Council was monitoring appropriate measures.


Broadband Update (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

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


The Chairman introduced Karen O’Kane from Norfolk County Council.  She had been invited to provide an update on the Better Broadband for Norfolk project with particular focus on Breckland District.  Members had been asked to provide questions in advance, which had been submitted to Ms O’Kane.  If other questions arose during the presentation which could not be answered immediately Ms O’Kane would provide a written response via the Scrutiny Officer.


Members were then given a presentation (copy attached) on the project which explained the costs and the technical issues.  The unit cost of providing coverage was divided between the number of properties that would be served and the aim was to use the money to reach the largest possible number of properties.  That meant that at the end of the project there would still be areas in the District without a service.


Ms O’Kane explained that the satellite voucher scheme was only aimed at those that got less than 2MB speed and where there was no plan to provide a fibre service.  It was a Central Government Scheme which would be available from mid-December.  It was not free as customers would still have to pay the usual satellite provider subscription fees.  The Government was trialling ultra-fast satellite but there were no results available yet.


The Chairman pointed out that some businesses in the District were unable to download/upload information which prevented them from doing their job.  Businesses were being penalised because they could not use on-line services.


Ms O’Kane confirmed that satellite would allow on-line services and it did work adequately but only as an alternative to extremely low broadband speeds.  It was up to Breckland how it spent its money, but some businesses were a long way from the nearest cabinet which would make providing a service to them extremely costly.


Councillor M Chapman-Allen referred to a resident of Blo’Norton who had advised her that the basic £9.95 for satellite provision did not always provide a good connection and they had to pay £35 per month if they needed to use broadband a lot.  Farmers, for instance, were required to upload data to the Defra website and the basic service was not good enough.


Ms O’Kane explained that the satellite scheme was aimed at people who had no alternatives.  Businesses should expect to pay higher levels. 


She went on to explain the problems giving an example in Old Buckenham which was a wide spread village served by three local exchange areas.  In the village there were cases where adjacent neighbours received very different broadband speeds because they were linked to different cabinets.  The distance and route to the cabinet affected the speed received.  She did not know what difference the Universal Service Commitment would make which was a Government requirement that every household should receive 20mgb.  She thought that there would have to be 4G mobile masts to provide that service to isolated premises.

The Chairman thought that if planning legislation was changed to give permitted development rights for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.


Performance Report (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To receive an update on Quarters 1 and 2 of 2015/16.

Additional documents:


The Corporate Improvement & Performance Manager presented the report and advised Members that they would receive a quarterly update in future.  Part of those future reports would be an update on the Transformation Programme.


He went on to highlight the performance details.  Quarter 1 had produced an overall rating of ‘Fair’ whilst Quarter 2 had improved to ‘Good’ with 80% of indicators being green (not 94% as appeared in the report).  There were no amber indicators, 16% red and one that had not been updated.  He noted the key areas of success and the areas of concern.

With regard to call abandonment and call waiting figures for the Contact Centre, a fact gathering exercise was taking place with information being collected from a number of sources to get a clear understanding of what was causing the problems.


A new measure that had been introduced was ‘Third Party Goods & Services procured within the District’.  That was currently red and the aim was to gradually increase the amount of local procurement over the next two years.  A new procurement policy was being prepared and would be presented to Scrutiny in due course.


Councillor Claussen asked what effect the call abandonment rate had on customer satisfaction.  It was explained that a residents’ survey might be needed to get a clear figure but in the meantime it was judged on the number of complaints received and those had not increased.


Councillor Bambridge suggested that a ‘ring-back’ system should be installed.  That would solve the problem of abandonment and reduce the call waiting times.  He also asked what had happened at the ‘Meet the Buyer’ event.


The Executive Manager People & Information explained that a new telephone system had been introduced which helped to funnel calls and transfer them, through to Serco for example.  It did not have a call-back facility but that could be looked into.  As the move to digitalisation progressed call waiting times could be used to encourage people to use the website.


Councillor Bambridge said that he was 100% for digitalisation but there were a minority of residents who would not use that method and a good system needed to be in place for those.


The Executive Manager People & Information agreed.  Those that could use digital means should be encouraged to do so which would free resources to help those that could not use digital means.


The Corporate Improvement & Performance Manager then went on to explain that local businesses had been invited to the Meet the Buyer event to talk to the Council and discuss the issues they had in bidding for contracts.  That information would be used to shape the Procurement Strategy and that group of businesses would be used for consultation purposes in future.  A list of Preferred Providers would be produced and added to over time.  Only 15% of goods and services were procured locally at the moment.


Councillor Wassell said that the Meet the Buyer event had been very well received.  The Council would like to procure all its  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.


Draft Budget Setting, Medium Term Plan (MTP) and Capital Strategy (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Finance introduced the item and said that the Council was well placed and had set an ambitious budget.  He invited the Executive Director Commercialisation to explain the details.


The Executive Director Commercialisation gave Members presentation which attempted to set out the complex Local Government financial issues in an easy to understand way.


She explained that the budget setting timetable for the Council meant that the draft had to be prepared before the Central Government settlement was known.  Therefore, certain assumptions had to be made and because of that uncertainty, a prudent approach had been adopted.


The Draft Assumptions had been tabled and two of the slides addressed the impacts of those being wrong and explained the proposals to limit those risks.


The strategic objective was to be financially independent and free from reliance on any particular income stream and to do that it was necessary to generate additional income streams. 

The three rules of Treasury Management were Security, Liquidity and Yield.  The order that they were applied depended upon an organisations risk appetite.  Security would always be placed first but during the course of the Plan the order of the other two might change.  Those decisions would be brought to Scrutiny for consideration.


By adopting a prudent approach and assuming that things would be worse than they were the Council could make savings ahead of schedule which would generate a fund for additional investment in properties giving an 8% return. 


The New Homes Bonus provided investment for growth.  By assuming that that would cease in three years (rather than six) a Growth Fund would be created for investment in growth.  In itself that provided a lower return, but growth provided jobs and more houses and businesses which would bring additional Council Tax (CT) and National Non Domestic Rates (NNDR).  The knock-on effects were likely to be a reduction in homelessness and benefits.


When the budget had originally been set a shortfall of £1.3million had been forecast by the year 2019/20.  A reduced reliance on the Rate Support Grant (RSG) would increase that to a £3million deficit.  However, £2.2million savings had already been identified reducing the budget gap to £806,000.


Other areas of risk were highlighted to Members and would be monitored.


Councillor Joel asked if the Government grant for maintaining Council Tax levels had gone.  He was advised that the Council was assuming that the grant would be paid.  If not Members would have a choice of what to do.


In response to a question from Councillor R Richmond it was confirmed that the 8% yield on investments was gross.


Councillor Jermy was pleased that the Council would have a growth fund to invest in housing as that would provide a financial and a social return and he asked if there was an opportunity to assess that social return.  He also asked for a separate financial analysis


Councillor Wassell thought it would be very difficult to quantify the social benefits but agreed that such investment would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 70.


Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 10)

To receive a verbal update on the progress of the Transformation Task & Finish Groups.


Members were informed by the relevant Chairmen of the Task & Finish Groups that they had all had successful first meetings, except for the Organisational Design Group which would be holding its first meeting shortly.


Health Scrutiny (Agenda Item 11)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.


Nothing to report.


Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 12)

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




Councillor Call for Action (Agenda Item 13)

To consider any references.




Work Programme (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 89 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 the next meeting would include an update from the Leader of the Council, Task & Finish Groups updates, consideration of the Constitution Review and an update on the Local Plan papers which he requested would include a clear understanding of the form that the public consultation would take.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 15)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 17 December 2015 at 2pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.


The arrangements for the next meeting were noted.