Agenda and minutes

Venue: Anglia Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham

Contact: Democratic Services  01362 656870

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 31 May 2018.


The minutes of the meeting held on the 31 May were agreed and signed by the Chairman.


Apologies and Substitutes

To receive apologies for absence and to note substitute Members in attendance.




Chairman's Announcements (if any)




Urgent Business

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

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.





Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members or public speakers wishing to address the meeting.


Councillors Darby, Hollis, Newton, Turner and Webb.


Executive Member Portfolio Update

To receive an update from Councillor Alison Webb, Executive Member for People and Information has been invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing projects within her portfolio and to answer any questions.



The Executive Member for People and Information presented an update to Members on both Customer Services and IT.


The Customer Services Centres had recently moved into the Libraries in Watton, Attleborough and Swaffham with good feedback received from both customers and the libraries. 


The management team had been proactive by working closely with service areas across the authority to manage the workload and staffing expectations.  The new customer access strategy would ask members what service they expect to see in the future. 


Councillor Joel thanked the Customer Service team for their work and asked if the ‘press a number’ had been looked into to make it easier for the caller.  It was explained that whilst there had been issues in the past, the system did now work.  However, if Members had any evidence that the system did not work, details should be passed to the Executive Member.


Councillor Crawford had recently experienced an issue whereby he was offered a call-back within a 2-day period which had not been helpful, and asked if there had been enough staff to support calls.  The Customer Contact Centre Team Leader explained that staff would be called upon, trained and used during peak times such as Council Tax and elections. 


A Councillor said it was frustrating when he had called for an Officer via the Contact Centre, but the officer was not available.  The Contact Centre Team Leader would suggest that when a member called, they would transfer the councillor through.


Councillor Turner raised an issue whereby if an officer called a Member mobile phone, it registered as a missed call with the generic council number; so the Member was not aware who had called them.  Officers were asked that if they called a Member on their mobile phone, they left a message with their number to call.  The Executive Director for Governance said she would advise Officers through staff briefings and newsletters.


The Executive Member went onto provide the second part to her portfolio update which covered a presentation on ICT.   Members were reminded how the service had been brought back in-house in November 2017.  The detailed presentation included information on the breakdown of calls that were received and responses that were provided. 


The Member ICT Working Group were considering new ICT requirements for May 2019.


Members expressed how pleased they were with the new service and thanked the ICT team for their outstanding work.



Community Asset Register Policy

To receive a verbal report from the Communities Manager.


The Communities and Environmental Services Manager provided Members with an update on the Community Asset Regulations 2012.  The Council had a duty to establish and maintain a list of assets that were of community value, and should act as an intermediary between the community and local bodies to enforce against provisions set out within the Act.


Parish Councils or community groups could nominate an asset with community value however there was a need to demonstrate the connection with that asset.  There were restrictions within the regulations that, as an example, if a Pub wanted to change the use to a bed and breakfast planning permission would need to be sought.


The Chairman asked if permission would still be required for demolition if the pub had already closed.  It was agreed that permission would still be required.


The Chairman felt the current way of working was reactive and asked if it could be more proactive.  The Communities and Environmental Services Manager said a neighbouring authority already had a proactive approach and felt the way of working could be considered for Breckland.


Councillor Jermy asked if the team would have capacity to deal with the work or if it should be staggered approach across the District.  The Communities and Environmental Services Manager said if vast number of applications were to be received it would put his team at pressure.  He suggested he would consider how to manage the process going forward and report back to the Commission with a proposal.  He would also provide members with a list of the type of asset that could be included.


Councillor Dimoglou raised caution over being proactive and felt if a pub had closed it was for a reason; therefore what would be the benefit for Breckland if houses were built on the land.  The Chairman felt if something could be done to protect assets within a village, the Council should be proactive about it.


The Chairman thanked the Communities and Environmental Services Manager for his report and agreed that the proposals would be discussed at the next meeting of the Commission.


Market Town Initiative

To receive a verbal update from the Communities Manager on how the Market Town Initiative is working across the five market towns.


The Communities and Environmental Services Manager provided Members with an update on the Market Town Initiative.


Members had agreed £250,000 would be invested to ensure the market towns within the District were economically viable with a unique sense of identity.  The launch of the new Shop-Appy initiative offered residents an easy way to shop locally.  An event had been planned for business communities in Swaffham to discuss how they could work together collaboratively.


Work was underway to support Thetford Town Council who were preparing a Heritage Lottery bid to provide funding to promote the historic features of the town.

In addition, work was underway with both Swaffham and Watton Town Councils who looked to enhance the signage along the Peddars Way walk.


The ‘Glutton’ had been purchased to be used across the market towns and good feedback had been received on how this had cleaned up hard to reach areas within the towns.


The next step involved developing a project to raise awareness within the communities and how to improve infrastructure going forward.  Members were informed that recruitment was underway for a Market Town Initiative Officer, who would aim to work with the market towns to deliver projects. 


Councillor Hewett was pleased to hear about the initiatives, but asked for a fact sheet to enable Councillors to share information with the Parish Councils.  The Communities and Environmental Services Manager felt that communication was important and that communities understood the co-ordinated activities to protect the market towns.  He suggested a monthly newsletter could be sent to Members to share with Parish Councils.  Members supported this idea and he would ask the Market Town Initiative Officer to initiate the work when they were in post.


Councillor Richmond asked for a breakdown on how much the Glutton had cost per household.  It was a suggestion that the Communities and Environmental Services Manager would look into.


Councillor Matthews was pleased to hear of the number of people that used the Shop-Appy within Swaffham and that it was a fantastic idea.


Councillor Turner asked how the App was monitored, as she was aware that whilst a number of shops were listed, products had not been uploaded. Members were advised that Officers were working with businesses to support them in updating their pages.


Members were informed that the Shop-Appy had been operational for just over 2 months, and 98 businesses had already signed up.  A target of 200 businesses had been set. Google analytics was being used to track information that would be discussed with the businesses to improve the usage of the app.  Support was being given to businesses by holding training events.


Councillor Jermy encouraged Members to read the Mary Portas report that  highlighted the local high street should focus on their niche to provide an enjoyable customer experience.  He had sympathy that it was a challenge and felt disappointed businesses in Thetford had not listed their products on the App.  He asked what level of subsidy would be given if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 75.


Fly-tipping update

To receive a verbal update from the Communities Manager on the costs of clearing fly-tipping within the District since May 2018 and number of reports received.


The Communities and Environmental Services Manager had been asked to update Members on the statistics for fly-tipping following the changes that had been made at Norfolk County Council in April 2018.  Members were informed that the collection of fly-tips during June 2017 was 72 collections, and in June 2018 it was 70.


Councillor Jermy asked for information on the tonnage rate together with the cost.  The Communities and Environmental Services Manager would provide the information at the next meeting.


Councillor Hollis had noted that whilst there was not a large increase in the fly-tipping, asked if more DIY waste had been tipped rather than the usual household waste.  Members were informed that whilst there were was no evidence that it had changed, a review was being carried out in partnership with Serco to understand the type of fly-tipping taking place.


Members were pleased the fly-tip had been collected very quickly once it had been reported; but felt more work needed to be done on educating residents on what could and could not be taken to the recycling centres, and should promote opportunities for re-use and re-cycle.


The Chairman suggested that a Task and Finish Group should be set up to consider ways on educating residents and to look at campaigns with schools to encourage re-cycling.  She asked that Councillor Jermy to Chair the group.


The Breckland Place Manager said it would be an ideal time to have a Task and Finish Group as a new strategy was being considered by the Norfolk Waste Partnership which could feed into that Group.


Councillor Turner felt that Breckland should advocate websites that promoted re-cycling through its social media.






New Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To receive a report from the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Strategy, Governance and Transformation, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen.

Additional documents:


The Business Improvement Officer introduced the new key performance indicators (KPIs) to Members.


Councillor Oliver highlighted that the Freedom of Information request target should read 100% and not 95% as it was a statutory duty to respond within the 20-day period.  It would be amended.


Members were pleased with the proposed KPIs and asked for it to be considered for a KPI on empty commercial property be added.




To receive a presentation from the Director of Planning & Building Control.


The Director of Planning and Building Control gave a detailed presentation to Members that covered the planning validation process; consultation; case officer allocation and workloads; and the decision making process.


Planning Validation

There were two sets of criteria the planning application should follow in order to reach the validation process.  The impact of not receiving quality applications resulted in a back-log of validations and the number of valid applications that were received was very low.  

Members were informed whilst applications could be submitted via the planning portal, a large proportion was still received via the paper format.  The planning team still generated a significant amount of paper but work was underway to look at the way it could be improved, such as producing CDs with plans, or having specialised scanners.  The improvement of the new GIS system allowed for link with the Ocella system and would improve performance. 

A checklist was being prepared to aide the applications received to ensure the application followed the validation process quicker.


The Chairman asked if there was a reason for the lack of planning submissions through the planning portal.  Whilst the answer to this was not known, work was underway to collaborate with planning agents to encourage them to submit their plans on-line. 



The main issue with the consultation process was that consultees may not respond  in time.  However, for smaller scale applications a local flood authority officer sat with planning to work on planning applications.  Whilst a deadline could be given, a decision could be made in the absence of that consultation information, but that was on a case by case basis.


A Member asked that if a planning application was delayed within their ward that they should be informed. The Director of Planning and Building Control said the way in which the reports were generated did not always recognise if an application had been delayed, but work was underway to resolve the reporting mechanism.


Case Officer Allocation and workloads

The average case load at any one time was 40 applications per officer.  There was a case officer with 51 live cases in their name, however some were in abeyance as not all information had been received, but were still allocated.  It was expected that the junior officers would have a higher number of cases, whereas the principle officers had lower levels due to the complexity of cases.


There were currently two vacancies within the team, and members were informed how it was particularly difficult to recruit to vacancies within the District.  However, in order to assist the team, there were a pool of 11 officers in the organisation who worked across the country, supported applications for Breckland Council and helped to unlock the ability of those that were local. 


Decision Making Process

The Director for Planning and Building Control explained how Capita worked in partnership with Breckland to make recommendations but it was a Breckland Council officer who made a final decision.


A recent review of the Planning Committee had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.


Task and Finish Groups

To receive a verbal update from Task & Finish Group Chairman in respect of the following meeting:


Housing Task & Finish Group


Councillor Turner said Members had spent a day with Flagship which had proved to be very useful.  A number of outcomes had come from the meeting, including a request that Flagship offered to present to Members on the ward information pack that would be provided to all Members. 


Members were asked that if they agreed to a presentation it was felt the Task and Finish Group had achieved what it had set out to do.


The Chairman asked for a presentation to be given after a full Council meeting as it would be of benefit to all Members, but asked that Councillor Turner agreed the principle with Cabinet members in the first instance.  If there was agreement a presentation could be organised for Autumn 2018.


Councillor Matthews expressed her disappointment as she had not received any feedback from issues that she had raised with Flagship.


Councillor Jermy proposed that the Group be paused for a period of time in order to monitor the changes for a further 6-month period.  However, Members agreed to close the Housing Task and Finish Group subject to the presentation received at full Council.



Outside Body Feedback (Standing Item)

To receive an update from representatives on Outside Bodies.



Councillor Turner advised that there were now seven Youth Advisory Groups; five within each of the Market Towns, one in Litcham and one in the Buckenhams.  She encouraged Members to get involved and meet with the Youth groups.  She had recently attended a Youth Advisory Board meeting in Swaffham who wanted to learn more about Democracy.  It was a very useful meeting of which comments had been forwarded to the Leader.


Scrutiny Call-ins (Standing Item)

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




Councillor Call for Action (Standing Item)

To consider any references.




Work Programme pdf icon PDF 100 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:


Members asked for an update on the questions they had raised in relation to the presentation received from Highways. 


Councillors asked for the following items to be added to the work programme:

·        To receive a presentation on Universal Credit.

·        To receive a snapshot on the Section106 monies.



Next Meeting

To note the arrangements of a Special Meeting to be held on Friday 17 August at 10.00am in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.



The arrangements for the Special meeting on Friday 17 August at 10:00am in the Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Dereham were noted.


Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider passing the following resolution:


“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A to the Act”.






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 paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.




To agree the restricted minute from the meeting held on 31 May 2018.


The private and confidential minutes were agreed and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.