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 694 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2015.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 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.





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, Bishop, T Carter, M Chapman-Allen, Dimoglou, Hollis, Newton and Turner were in attendance.



Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)

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


The Chairman noted that it was the first task of the Council year to set the budget and so he had invited the Executive Member for Finance to address the Commission.


Councillor Dimoglou said that his Finance Portfolio had been able to build on the astute management of previous generations to present a balanced budget for the first year of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) with a predicted shortfall of £806,000 at the end of year four. Since those predictions were made there had been some changes and an opportunity had arisen to accept a four year funding deal from Central Government.  The final budget proposals would be presented to Cabinet on 9 February 2016.


He invited the Executive Director Commercialisation to give Members a short presentation on the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review, its effect on the Budget and the project to meet the key issues for Breckland.


New Homes Bonus (NHB) – Change had been expected.  It had been thought that the NHB would only be available for the next three years.  In fact it should continue for the next four year, but there were retrospective changes to the way it was paid.  Consultation was also underway on other changes.  It was now directly linked to the Local Plan submission.  If that was not made in a timely fashion the NHB would not be paid.  The Plan also had to be robust otherwise the Government would withhold payment.  The Council’s Local Plan was on-track for submission in Autumn 2016.  However, if it was rejected the Government could withhold payment of about £500,000. 


Another issue was that if the Council refused planning permission for housing which was then granted on Appeal, the Council would not receive any NHB for that development.  The potential reduction in NHB would impact on the Council’s Growth Fund.


The good news was that the Necton Sub-Station had received an estimated Business Rates valuation of £500,000 so it could be used to top up the Growth Fund to mitigate the NHB risk if required.


Revenue Support Grant (RSG) – The Government had introduced a four year settlement for those Councils that had structured plans.  Breckland qualified and would seek agreement from Cabinet to accept the four year settlement.  There were no details about the proposal yet but they should be available in time for the Cabinet meeting.


War Pensioners – The changes would mean a small cost to the Authority of about £2,000 which would be recommended to Cabinet for approval.


The effects of those changes on the MTFP would increase the shortfall by the end of the term to £2million.  However, the Transformation Programme had identified sources of funding for 100% of that.  A summary of savings and income opportunities which showed the plans in place to secure the money was displayed.  Delivery of the Transformation Programme was critical.  The total expected return was actually higher than was needed, allowing greater flexibility.


Council Tax Comparative Position – The proposed £5 increase in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Revised Contaminated Land Strategy (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report of the Environmental Protection Manager.

Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Public Protection presented the report.  The Strategy had been updated due to changes in National Policy.  She introduced Richard Boole, Environmental Protection Manager.  The Strategy had been refreshed and updated to ensure it was fit for purpose.  There had been no major changes and it was similar to every other Contaminated Land strategy across the country.  The changes brought about by National Policy assisted in getting previously used land back into use to support the planning process.


Councillor Stasiak asked if there were any recent additions and was advised that contamination from domestic fuel spillages was not included.

Councillor Claussen asked what amount of Breckland owned land was contaminated.  The Environmental Protection Manager did not have that information.  The maps showed ‘potential contaminated land’.  He suggested that the Property & Asset Team might have more information.


Councillor S Chapman-Allen asked if any land previously excluded from the Local Plan would be allowed following the changes and how landowners were advised of the changes.


The Environmental Protection Manager explained that the District did not have any major contaminated land which would stop all development.  When the Strategy was approved it would be published on the website and the Planners would be advised of the changes.


Councillor R Richmond asked at what point an Environmental Impact Assessment was required.  He was advised that areas of potential concern were mapped and the Planners referred to those maps and highlighted any areas of concern to developers.  If contamination was found more details would be required.  The Council had a specialist Contaminated Land Officer who would give advice to developers to try to ensure that any undue risks to the public were picked up.


The Executive Member for Public Protection noted that sometimes the cost of mitigation could affect the provision of affordable housing.  Councillor Claussen agreed and asked if the Planners could be advised on the effect on viability of clearing contamination.

The Chairman pointed out that that was the role of the District Valuer.  He thanked the Executive Member and Officer for their report.



Task and Finish Groups (Agenda Item 8)

To receive a verbal update from the Chairmen of the four Transformation Task & Finish Groups.



The Chairman noted that it was four months since the process had started. The Commission should receive formal reports at regular intervals.  He therefore requested a written report for the next meeting.  In the meantime, each Task & Finish Group (T&FG) Chairman was invited to give a verbal progress report and to flag any issues.


Councillor Stasiak (Chairman – Commercialisation T&FG) said they were getting on well.  At their last meeting they had discussed Breckland Training Services; looked at how Council contracts could be let to Breckland organisations - ensuring Best Value whilst increasing opportunities for SMEs to bid for contracts;  income generation from the Brown Bin service; and identifying land for starter homes.

The Chairman referred to the list of projects provided by the Executive Director Commercialisation and noted that a lot had no income identified, including nothing from the 2016-17 Commercial Asset Review.


Councillor Stasiak explained that they had not looked at that yet.  Some stock was quite old and there could be a huge expense associated with asbestos problems.  That would be looked at in the future along with opportunities to add to the portfolio.


The Chairman said that Breckland Bridge had the necessary expertise, and access to the Council’s land, to identify opportunities.  He suggested that the T&FG should engage with them.

The Deputy Leader & Executive Member for People & Information agreed and said that she would ask the Chairman of the Breckland Bridge Board if Councillor Stasiak could attend a meeting.


Councillor Jermy (Chairman – Digitalisation T&FG) said they had discussed the website at their recent meeting and spoken about self-service booths.  The new Digital and Customer Access Manager had been present and he had a good commercial sector background.  At the next meeting they would discuss Breckland’s approach to Social Media and Customer Contact Centre trends.


The Chairman noted that there was a lot of out-of-date content on the Biz (Intranet) and the Outlook contact list was also very out of date. 


Councillor Jermy advised that there was a website content review underway.


The Deputy Leader & Executive Member for People & Information asked Members to look at their e-mails as they were being invited to take part in trials and she hoped they would participate.  She agreed about the out-of-date information list and said it had been discussed by the Executive Management Team.  She would find out what progress was being made.


Councillor Matthews (Chairman – Aligning Public Services T&FG) said they would be holding their second meeting next week.  The building work on the Reception area was going ahead and at their next meeting they would be discussing the Dereham Early Intervention Hub with a representative from NCC.


The Chairman said that amendments had been made to the plans for DWP.  The Reception would be a combined area and it was now a good use of Council space.


Councillor S Chapman-Allen (Chairman – Organisational Design T&FG) had postponed the meeting due to be held yesterday as he had not received  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Health Scrutiny (Agenda Item 9)

To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.


Nothing to report.



Scrutiny Call-ins (Agenda Item 10)

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





Councillor Call for Action (Agenda Item 11)

To consider any references.


Councillor Newton raised concerns that the Safer Thetford Action Group had been trying to engage with the Licensing Team about a Public Space Protection Order without success.


The Chairman asked him to consult with the Executive Member for Public Protection in the first instance.



Work Programme (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 84 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 noted the following items to be added to the work programme:


·       To invite the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to a future meeting to discuss how the Council could work with them.

·       To invite the Citizens Advice Bureau to a future meeting to talk about their workload and to understand the issues being brought to them.

·       To invite the Mental Health trust to come and talk about the issues of Breckland residents.


The Executive Member for Public Protection said that she could provide contact details for CAB.


Councillor Jermy suggested that the Chairman of the NCC Economic Development Committee and the NCC Director of Planning & Transportation should be invited to attend with the LEP representatives.


The Chairman said that he would plan the workload for the March and April meetings with the Scrutiny Officer.


Next Meeting (Agenda Item 13)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 3 March 2016 at 2pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.



The arrangements for the next meeting on 3 March 2016 were noted.