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 9 June 2016.
The Chairman informed Members of the sudden death yesterday of Mr Harold Bodmer, Norfolk County Council Executive Director of Adult Social Services. Mr Bodmer would be sadly missed and she offered her condolences to the Norfolk County Council Officers, Ms O’Kane and Mr Cullum who were present today.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 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 were received from Councillors Crawford, Oliver and Webb.
Councillors Newton and Wilkinson were present as Substitutes for Councillor Crawford and Oliver respectively.
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, M Chapman-Allen, S Chapman-Allen, Hollis, Sharpe and Turner were in attendance.
Mr Milner (Old Buckenham Parish Council) was in attendance for Agenda Item 6 (Broadband Update).
To receive a presentation from Karen O’Kane, Norfolk County Council, and John Cullum, Better Broadband for Norfolk BT Openreach lead.
Karen O’Kane (Norfolk County Council) accompanied by John Cullum (Better Broadband for Norfolk, Open Reach Lead), gave a presentation (copy attached) and explained the next stage of the roll-out and changes to the way in which information would be provided.
The main aim of the project was to achieve maximum coverage for the money. No community would be favoured over another.
The first contract had achieved 80% coverage. The second contract would be in two stages. The first stage would use money from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the County Council and the Government to increase coverage to 90%. The second stage would use the underspend (currently about £10million), clawback money (about £5million) and the money contributed by the District Councils to increase coverage to about 95% in Norfolk.
The way in which information would be provided and how the public would be able to access a mapping tool for address level checks on what coverage they could expect, was explained. Information on speed and access would be available to the public. More detailed information would be provided to District Councils quarterly, some of that information would be confidential.
Councillor Bambridge noted that Lyng had got reasonable speed for Broadband but it had severe problems with internet and telephone landlines not working. As the village had no mobile coverage and no phone box some families were cut-off at times. Ms O’Kane said that she would look at Lyng as it sounded like there was a fault. She stressed the importance of people reporting issues to their service providers. The service providers would contact Open Reach if there was a fault. She explained that service providers gave different speeds. That might be due to the number of people sharing Broadband access. She encouraged people to ask their neighbours what speed they were getting. If people using different service providers were all suffering from low speeds it was likely to be a problem. If they were receiving different speeds it might be worth people changing provider. The ‘Think Broadband’ website had lots of useful information. Speed could also be affected by how far a property was from the box.
Councillor Joel asked about Old Buckenham where there were three exchanges but some areas of very poor Broadband speed. Ms O’Kane advised that it was likely that 94% of the village would be covered by high speed Broadband and anyone that had made an enquiry would be contacted with that information.
The first contract had provided 680 additional cabinets. More would be needed for smaller communities, but they required a lot of work and forward planning as they involved road closures.
Councillor M Chapman-Allen asked about Blo’Norton. It was less ... view the full minutes text for item 43.
Grant Process (Agenda Item 7)
To receive a presentation from the Executive Member of Place, Councillor Lynda Turner and the Communities Manager, Steve James.
The Executive Member for Place invited the Communities Manager to give Members a presentation on the Grant process (copy attached).
He gave some background information on the different grants that were available which were:
· Match Funding – providing up to 50% costs for projects up to £5,000 and 30% for projects over that amount.
· Pride – (Money from 2nd Homes Council Tax) providing up to 100% of project costs.
· Gifted and Talented – grants up to £500 usually to support people engaged in sports at National / International level.
· Access Arts – grants up to £500 to encourage creativity.
· Policy DC11 – money from developers for outdoor sports and children’s play ‘free to access’ facilities.
The decision had been taken in November 2015 to transfer the processing of grant applications to the Norfolk Community Foundation (NCF). They could provide comprehensive support to applicants and also signpost other funding opportunities.
They had put forward some recommendations to improve the grant scheme which included fast-tracking for applications for DC11 money where only one Expression of Interest was received in relation to a particular parish cluster.
The Council also had contracts to part fund 25 Community Car Schemes. Each contract had a ceiling amount of funding and some of the schemes had overspent. A review would be carried out to determine if the ceiling limit should be raised.
Members were asked to signpost the guidance notes on the website and advise potential applicants to contact the NCF for advice.
The Chairman invited Members to comment on the grant process and reminded them that they also had the opportunity to ask questions of the Executive Member for Place as she was present.
Councillor Joel asked if the NCF made decisions on grant applications up to £5,000.
It was confirmed that the Council still made the decision for all applications. Councillor S Chapman-Allen explained that previously applications had been circulated to Executive Members and there had been a points system to grade them. Now, if the application met the required criteria it was forwarded to the Executive Members for discussion and decision.
The Communities Manager advised that there had previously been a Grants Officer post which was no longer required. The money from that post paid for NCF and provided a £6,500 per year saving. The Council paid 5% of NCF costs and also had the wider benefit of their knowledge.
Councillor Sharpe noted that there was a ceiling of £20,000 for large grants. However, he was aware that the Council had previously provided much more than that and he asked if NCF were aware that there was flexibility. He was also concerned that the Community Car Scheme was at risk because NCF were enforcing the ceiling. He asked when that figure would be reviewed.
The Communities Manager explained that NCF would transfer any applications to the Council which fell outside the normal grant scheme. He ... view the full minutes text for item 44.
Report of the Executive Member for Growth, Charles Carter.
The Deputy Leader and Executive Member for People & Information introduced the report (in place of the Executive Member for Growth).
The report had originally been on the Council Agenda for 28 June 2016 but had been withdrawn to allow an opportunity for scrutiny. It set out the Council’s priorities in allocating housing.
The Council received about 150 housing applications a month. The proposed changes would free up officer time to deal with those in greater need.
Councillor Stasiak noted that in the report it said there was no interaction with the private sector. It was confirmed that although that was a future aspiration, at present the Council did not engage with the private rented sector.
The Chairman was aware that there used to be regular interactions and she asked why that had stopped. The Housing Support Manager explained that it had not been a formal decision but currently the Team did not have the capacity. It was hoped that the proposed changes would free up officer time giving the opportunity to engage in future.
The Chairman was worried that people might have filled their application form in incorrectly but they would not be assessed until after they had bid on a property.
The Deputy Leader explained that people with specific needs would receive help in filling in their forms.
Councillor Jermy had significant concerns about the proposals for fundamental change without a clear evidence base. He felt that there needed to be clearer understanding of why the Council was receiving 150 applications a month and how those figures compared to other Councils. Low wages could be one reason, together with high rents, especially in the private sector, leading to debt.
The Deputy Leader agreed that there were a variety of reasons for the volume of applications which was one of the highest in Norfolk. The aim would be to engage with the Housing Associations as early as possible to prevent people getting into debt and losing their homes. Discretionary Housing Benefit was available in some cases. Administering the large number of people on the Housing Register used up officer time and that needed to be sorted.
Councillor Jermy suggested that the people on the Housing Register were people on a low income who could not afford private rented accommodation. He thought the solution was to employ more officers.
Task and Finish Groups (Agenda item 9)
The following Task & Finish Groups have been set up:
Transformation Task & Finish Group
Peter Wilkinson (Chairman)
Performance Task & Finish Group
Adrian Stasiak (Chairman)
Initial meetings have been arranged:
Performance Task & Finish Group – Wednesday 27 July at 1.30pm, Anglia Room
Transformation Task & Finish Group – Wednesday 27 July at 3.00pm, Anglia Room
The purpose of the initial meetings is to:
· Set out the terms of reference
· Agree a clear approach and way of working/reporting
· Agree the timescales
The Chairman asked Members to be aware that the two Task & Finish Groups (T&FG) were each being set up to deal with a specific task over a 12 week period. They would not look into small details but take a more general overview ensuring that the subject was providing value for money and value for residents.
Outside Body Feedback (Agenda Item 10)
To receive updates from representatives on Outside Bodies.
Councillor Wilkinson had been intending to provide feedback from the Norfolk Health Scrutiny meeting that should have taken place in the morning, but it had been cancelled due to the death of Mr Bodmer.
Councillor Bambridge was one of the Council’s Internal Drainage Board representatives and he asked Members to contact him if they had any flooding issues.
The Chairman drew attention to a flyer from Wayland Partnership which had been distributed by Councillor Bowes.
Councillor Joel said that the Attleborough Plan Neighbourhood Steering Group had recently published its draft documents for six weeks consultation prior to submission to the Council. Things were moving forward at last.
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.
The Chairman referred to the recent flooding and particularly to the problems experienced by Elizabeth House. She asked for the emergency planning response for the Council to be provided to the next meeting as if the building was put out of action Members needed to know what the knock-on effects would be.
Councillor R Richmond noted that the South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group was £7million in debt. One of the Dereham surgeries might have to close. He suggested that they should be invited to a future meeting.
(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 Citizens Advice Bureau had been invited to the 13 October meeting and had confirmed their attendance.
The meeting scheduled for 5 January 2017 had been cancelled to avoid problems with agenda issue over the Christmas period.
The following items would be considered at the next meeting on 1 September:
· Emergency planning for Elizabeth House
· Quarter 1 Performance Report
· Anglian Water
Next Meeting (Agenda Item 14)
To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Thursday 1 September 2016, at 2.00pm in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham.
The arrangements for the next meeting on 1 September 2016 were noted.