Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham
Contact: Democratic Services 01362 656870
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 3 March 2016.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 3 March 2016 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 Councillor Webb. Councillor Wilkinson was present as her Substitute.
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)
The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011. Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.
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, Borrett, C Carter, M Chapman-Allen, S Chapman-Allen, Claussen, Dimoglou, Gilbert, Hollis, Newton, Nunn, Robinson, Sharpe and Turner were in attendance.
Verbal update by the Leader of the Council.
The Leader of the Council had been invited to update the Commission on the Devolution negotiations. He gave Members a PowerPoint presentation (copy attached) setting out the current position which he advised was changing daily.
He was concerned that the Council would be asked to agree a draft document for public consultation on 28 June 2016 without having had the answers to the many questions being raised by the Leaders Group which met weekly. In his opinion, Devolution was the right way to go, but more time and more detail was needed.
His original strong objection to having a Mayor had been mitigated by attendance at the Leaders Group meetings where it had become obvious that one voice would be more effective at representing the views of all the partners to the deal, and negotiating with the Government. The Government had also made clear that having a Mayor was non-negotiable.
When asked to outline the benefits for Breckland of signing up to the deal, the Leader said that he could not do so at this stage. However, Devolution was not just for Breckland, it was for the wider area of Norfolk and Suffolk and there were benefits on offer.
If Breckland left the negotiations the Leader did not know what would happen. He felt it was much better to stay involved, keep a place at the table, and retain the chance of getting money, although there was no guarantee.
Members raised concerns about: the lack of detail; timescale; the LEP’s having a vote; no concrete benefits for Breckland; and the powers of the Mayor.
Councillor Oliver thought the Leader’s original objections to a Mayor were still sound. He proposed that the Commission make a recommendation to Council that if the final document contained the requirement for a Mayor, it should be refused.
The Executive Manager for Governance advised Members that the Governance Review document set out arguments with and without a Mayor and he suggested it might be premature to make a decision before seeing those details.
The proposal by Councillor Oliver was seconded by Councillor Crawford. Members supported the proposal.
RESOLVED to RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL that, should the Governance Review and final scheme conclude that the Devolution model should include a Mayor as defined in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016, the Council should refuse to support it.
The reference from the Overview & Scrutiny Commission would be included on the Council Agenda for the meeting on 28 June 2016 when the Devolution deal would be discussed. Councillor Jermy was asked to present the reference as the Chairman would not be present at that meeting.
Report of the Executive Manager Governance (Deputy Monitoring Officer).
The Executive Member for Governance presented the report which proposed amendments to the Committee Structure to make the decision making process more flexible, efficient and streamlined by removing the Local Joint Consultative Committee (LJCC) the General Purposes Committee (GP) and the Appeals Committee and redistributing their responsibilities to other Committees or to Council.
Councillor Matthews as Chairman of LJCC supported the proposal.
Councillor Jermy proposed that, to assist the Council in retaining its Charter Plus status, the Minutes of the Member Development Panel should be reported direct to Council to increase its prominence. Councillor Wilkinson seconded the proposal and it was supported by Members.
Councillor Bambridge, as Chairman of Licensing Committee supported the proposed changes but suggested that drinking in public places should be included in its remit. The Executive Manager for Governance agreed; it had been put under the Planning Committee in error.
Councillor T Monument spoke on behalf of the Chairman of Appeals (Councillor L Monument) and asked that consideration be given to continuity and the knowledge and experience that some long-serving Appeals Committee Members had.
Councillor Bambridge suggested that the proposed Licensing Committees would provide an opportunity to blend the specific experience of Appeals and Licensing Committee Members.
Councillor Brame was concerned about Tree Preservation Orders being considered by Planning as there could be a conflict of interest with planning applications. It was pointed out that that change had already been approved by Council, but the Monitoring Officer might want to consider it.
RESOLVED to RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL that:
a) the revised committee structure detailed within the report at Appendix B be approved and that it should take effect immediately after the Council meeting on 28 July 2016;
b) the revised responsibilities for each committee as detailed with the report at Appendix C be approved and take effect from after the Council meeting on 28 July 2016;
c) delegated authority be granted to the Monitoring Officer to make the necessary amendments to the Constitution to implement the revised structure; and
d) the Member Development Panel Minutes be reported direct to Council.
Report of the Executive Manager, Growth & Prosperity.
The Executive Member for Growth presented the report. There had been a lot of feedback from the first consultation on the Local Plan and the Planning Policy Team had done a lot of work since then on Local Service Centre villages, Settlement Boundaries and Housing Allocations in particular.
The key issue that the Commission was being asked to consider was the redrafting of Policy PD05 concerning Settlement Boundaries.
The Strategic Planning Manager introduced Steve Ottewell from Capita who would take Members through the report and appendices.
Mr Ottewell explained the changes to the wording in Policy PD05 and the five criteria that had been used to determine whether a village should retain its Settlement Boundary, or not. The Policy was now proposed to be split into two parts. In part A, development adjacent to Settlement Boundaries was still allowed but would be managed in a careful way to ensure it was of appropriate scale and design. Local support would be the key criteria. Part B dealt with development outside Settlement Boundaries. There would be opportunities for residential and employment development in smaller areas with less services. However, the criteria for that would be more restrictive and permitted only in exceptional circumstances, in areas with an existing cluster of buildings such as farmsteads or small sporadic areas of development. In such cases the numbers would be restricted to one or two dwellings only.
Councillor Joel asked how much weight could be applied to local support and he was advised that that was part of the qualifying criteria, but other planning constraints would still apply.
Councillor Borrett thought it was a really positive step, but he could not find any mention in PD05b about local support being ‘key’. He thought that parish requirements should be a material consideration. He liked the limit of five dwellings on sites adjacent the Settlement Boundary, as it was a good idea to break development into small pieces, but thought that the limit for the sites outside of Settlement Boundaries should be three rather than one or two. With regard to the use of the word ‘exceptional’ he thought it would cause confusion as there was a different criteria for exception sites.
Councillor Brame suggested that ‘exceptional’ could be replaced with ‘under local circumstances’.
The Strategic Planning Manager advised that the text could be amended to clarify local support and did not raise a concern about amending the word ‘exceptional, as long as there was no conflict with PD05a, and also Councillor Borrett’s suggestion for an ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
Health Scrutiny (Agenda Item 9)
To receive an update on the Norfolk Health Scrutiny Committee.
Councillor Wilkinson had attended the Norfolk Health Overview & Scrutiny meeting and had sent out a highlight report which included the following information:
· Health Education England had raised concerns about the retention of students. The situation was likely to get worse next year due to the loss of bursaries particularly in Norfolk.
· The possibility that Cranmer House in North Norfolk might close.
· Work on the tariff for health care services. Discrepancies were being looked into.
The Chairman advised that in future this standing item would be replaced by Outside Bodies Feedback.
Work Programme (Agenda Item 10)
(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.
The Chairman felt that the Task & Finish Groups were not functioning as they should. Therefore, she was closing the previous Groups and starting more focussed Groups of up to ten members, which would have a specific timescale and a particular task.
A new Performance Task & Finish Group was being set up with a 12 week work programme. Councillor Stasiak would chair the Group which would look at the Council’s commercial assets and see how they were performing. Councillors, Brame, M Chapman-Allen and R Richmond volunteered to join the Group.
There would also be one Transformation Task & Finish Group which would have a 12 week work programme. It would not look at the detail, but would rather focus on the overall benefits to both Councillors and residents of the transformation programme. Councillor Wilkinson would be Chairman. Councillor Matthews volunteered to join the Group.
An e-mail would be sent out to all Members inviting volunteers to sit on the Groups.
Councillor Jermy noted from the new Work Programme which had been tabled, that the Cabinet Member feedback item had been removed. He had found the opportunity to question Cabinet Members very useful and asked if they could be reinstated.
The Chairman did not feel that the feedback item had provided value. She wanted the Commission to look at individual issues and asked Members to put forward specific items for future agendas. Cabinet Members would be present at the meetings and Members would have the opportunity to question them in relation to individual issues, which would in turn provide scrutiny of the Portfolio Holder.
Councillor Joel asked for an update on Better Broadband for Norfolk.
Councillor Oliver asked about the ‘Call-in’ procedure. An e-mail would be sent to all Members explaining the process.
Councillor Sharpe asked how a non-Member of the Commission could get an item added to the Agenda and he was advised to speak to the Chairman or any Member of the Commission.
The Chairman told Members that Scrutiny training was available and they should contact the Councillor Development Co-ordinator (email@example.com) if they were interested. She wanted the Commission to scrutinise what the Council was doing, to ensure that it was providing benefits for residents.
Next Meeting (Agenda Item 11)
To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Thursday, 21 July 2016 at 2pm in the Norfolk Room.
The arrangements for the next meeting on 21 July 2016 at 2pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham, were noted.
Exclusion of Press and Public (Agenda Item 12)
To consider passing the following resolution:
“That under Section 100(a)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exemption information as defined in paragraphs 3 & 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.
ITEMS FROM WHICH THE PRESS AND THE PUBLIC ARE EXCLUDED
RESOLVED that under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3 & 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.
Breckland Bridge (Agenda Item 13)
Presentation and report by the Strategic Property Manager.
The Executive Member for Finance introduced the item and asked the Executive Director for Commercialisation to give Members a presentation. She gave an overview of the project which had been set up to provide growth and regeneration for income, and explained how the development of Burghwood Drive, Mileham was progressing.
A question and answer session followed in which details of the investment and income forecasts were explained.
Councillor Borrett congratulated all involved. He said that the key driver for the project had been the regeneration of Thetford. Sustainable development had been achieved at minimum cost, which was an exceptional use of taxpayers’ money.