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) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2015.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 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 Jermy, Stasiak and Webb.  Councillor Bowes was present as Substitute for Councillor Stasiak and Councillor Clarke was present as Substitute for Councillor Jermy.



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, Borrett, C Carter, T Carter, M Chapman-Allen, Darby, Dimoglou, Duigan, Hollis, Martin, Newton, W Richmond, Turner, Wassell and Wilkinson were welcomed to the meeting.



Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 594 KB

Councillor Michael Wassell, Leader of the Council, has been invited to attend the meeting to give an overview of the year since the Election and to outline the Council’s plans for 2016.


The Leader of the Council gave a short presentation on achievements so far and plans for the future.


There was a refreshed focus and vision set out in the four-year Corporate Plan which built on the Council’s strengths for the benefit of the community.  The Corporate priorities were prosperity, strong and independent communities and working with partners.  The Council aimed to develop the local economy and the Meet the Buyer event had been the first step to ensuring more local procurement.


Key Select provided a better on-line system for housing applications, freeing up officer time to help those less able to help themselves.


The Transformation Programme would ensure that the right services were provided at the right time and in the right way and was the key to future-proofing the organisation.  The four themes of the Transformation Programme were being looked at by individual Scrutiny Task & Finish Groups which would be involved in the whole four year project.

The Corporate Plan would be updated to take account of changes.  Breckland’s voice would be heard in the Devolution discussions.  Work would continue to ensure that safe communities were maintained and joined-up services provided.


The consultation on the Local Plan was about to commence and the Plan would ensure that the right development was enabled in the right places and at the right time.


The Council would work to attract inward investment and would generate income from its assets.  It would continue to trade through existing partnerships such as the ARP and would look for other opportunities.  It would also ensure that major contracts provided the best value for money.


The Chairman asked about the outcomes of the Meet the Buyer event and the Chief Executive advised that two people that had attended the event were now being used to design the Council’s website.  Business to business contacts had been encouraged and good feedback had been received about that.  Local businesses now knew that the Council was focussing locally.


Councillor S Chapman-Allen asked how the Council was lobbying to stop the loss of PCSOs in rural areas and the Leader of the Council suggested that the Commission could invite the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner to come back to another meeting.


Councillor Oliver asked if there were any ‘red lines’ regarding Devolution and the Leader of the Council said that at the moment having an elected Mayor was something that all the Districts were against.  However, the best deals often went to organisations that had elected Mayors, so there was a need to be flexible.


Councillor Joel asked about CCTV cameras and the Executive Member for Place was able to advise that they were all working and recording and the Council had access to that information for all the towns.


Councillor R Richmond asked how the problem of the Council’s housing land supply shortage could be overcome as it was adding to infrastructure problems.  He asked if there was any chance of building a new settlement.


The Leader of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 82.


Constitution Review (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Report of the Executive Manager Governance.

Additional documents:


The Executive Member Governance presented the report on the final draft Constitution.  The substantive changes had been highlighted in yellow and/or were referred to in the covering report.  He paid tribute to the amount of work done by the Officers and the Members of the Working Group.


The Executive Manager Governance drew attention to the key changes.  He reminded Members that the review had commenced in April 2013 and the intention had been to structurally align the Constitution with South Holland’s.  This would enable easier navigation for Shared Managers, whilst retaining each Council’s separate rules.

The base document was based on a model (Exari) prepared by the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors, so was robust.  The Exari model had been first presented to Scrutiny in 2014 and amendments incorporated.  Since then there had been changes to the law, to portfolios and to the Management Structure.  It had been identified that Access to Information Rules were missing and this had been addressed.  The final document was less than 200 pages and about 58,000 words.  An abridged version would be prepared when the Constitution was approved, for easy access for Members and Officers.

There had been 30 substantive changes and he drew attention to a number of key amendments:


·        Officer Delegations – some key provisions had been included to allow the Monitoring Officer to amend delegations for staffing and statutory changes and Senior Officers were allowed to exercise each others delegations unless otherwise instructed.

·        Standing Order No 5 – Questions without notice had been added

·        Standing Order No 5 – it was proposed to add a point to enable the Chairman of Council to accept a new item of business at their discretion.

·        Standing Orders 25 and 26 had been slightly amended on legal advice

·        Standing Order No 39 – quorum of Cabinet to be 3 or half the total number, whichever is greater

·        Standing Order No 42 – gave freedom for the Chairman to allow members of the public to speak – unless there were already alternative arrangements, such as for Planning Committee

·        On page 144 the requirement to refer each virement to Cabinet had been removed

·        Pages 160-161 – Contract Procedure Rules had been amended in accordance with new regulations and the Council’s vision.


Councillor S Chapman-Allen asked who the Chief Officers were and he was advised that it was a legal definition referring to anyone that reported directly to the Chief Executive.  He also asked whether the delegations on pages 95 and 96 meant those matters would no longer be determined by the General Purposes Committee.  He was advised that the General Purposes Committee Terms of Reference for dealing with staffing issues remained the same and the Executive Manager Governance would clarify how the two delegations inter related after the meeting.


The Chairman asked about the proposed amendment to Standing Order No 5 to allow additional matters to be discussed at the Chairman’s discretion.  If that was done, some interested parties might not be aware and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83.


Local Plan (Agenda Item 8)

Report of the Interim Executive Manager Growth on the consultation process to be undertaken during 2016.


To Follow:

Plans of villages with settlement boundaries and site representations and associated list

List of site representations outside of settlement boundaries


Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Growth said that he was delighted to present the communications strategy for the Local Plan which was due out for public consultation on 11 January 2016.  The Plan represented many years of hard work and it was important to get the communications strategy right to encourage maximum engagement by parish councils and the community.  He handed over to the team.


Tim Mills the Interim Executive Manager Growth introduced Phil Mileham, Strategic Planning Manager, Neil Campbell, Planning Policy Manager, Sarah Robertson, Planning Policy Officer and Iain Withington, Planning Policy Team Leader. 


The consultation plans had been amended following comments received and an updated version was tabled.  It was important to engage the public as soon as possible and the proposed communications strategy met and exceeded the statutory duties.  The importance of Members and parish councils in the process was recognised and separate briefings had been scheduled for them.  Events in the Market Towns had been provisionally booked and were currently planned as drop-in events which would run from 2pm to 7pm.  The importance of similar events in the rural community was recognised and a proposal for four rural events roughly based on S106 parish groupings was presented.  There would also be a publicity campaign using posters and social media.


Councillor Borrett was pleased that the meetings were being arranged.  However, he noted that not all villages were included in the pack of maps.  It was clarified that the maps were of villages with Settlement Boundaries (SBs) as the Plan has a policy for rural areas which include reference to SBs.  Any development outside SBs would be determined on a criteria based policy and those villages would not receive any allocation in the Plan.


The Chairman clarified that Members had access to the information that had been provided to Cabinet which included key settlements and Service Centre Villages.  However, there was to be a rural SB review which would consider changes to those boundaries and it could appear that those villages without a SB had been discounted before the consultation.  Yet on page 38 of the consultation documents it said that consideration would be given to infilling and rounding off.  He did not think that made things very clear for the public.


Councillor Borrett thought that all villages should be treated the same whether they had a SB or not as the principal of having a SB had not been decided yet.

The Chairman agreed and said it had been an issue with Members for some time, as having a SB had changed the character of rural villages by enabling unacceptable development.  It would be much better to remove the SB and have a criteria based policy to allocate development.  As there was to be a SB review it seemed wrong to consult on defined areas.


The Interim Executive Manager Growth agreed to take those comments on board but said the consultation had to proceed if it was to meet the agreed timetable. 


Councillor Oliver suggested that a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 84.


Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 9)

To receive a verbal update from the Transformation Task & Finish Group Chairmen.


Councillor S Chapman-Allen said that the Organisational Design T&FG had held its first meeting with the Chief Executive as their lead officer.  He had been pleased with the participation.


Councillor Matthews said that the Aligning Public Services T&FG had met and been surprised that the whole of the DWP were moving into the Council Offices.  At their next meeting they would be talking to County Council members about the Early Intervention Hub.


No other T&FG Chairmen were present.



Health Scrutiny (Agenda Item 10)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.


Nothing to report.



Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 11)

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





Councillor Call for Action (Agenda Item 12)

To consider any references.





Work Programme (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 86 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 following items were added to the list of topics to be discussed:


·       How we scrutinise partners

·       How the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) functions and what it is doing for Breckland

·       Duty to co-operate – how it works and how it impacts on Breckland.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 14)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 28 January 2016.


The arrangements for the next meeting on 28 January 2016 were noted.


The Chairman wished everyone a very Happy Christmas.