Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  01362 656870

Items
No. Item

Welcome

The Chairman welcomed Mrs T. Hewett as the new member of the Commission in place of Mr S. Chapman-Allen.

 

91.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 9 August 2007.

Minutes:

Subject to a correction to include the name of Mr C.R. Jordan in the list of apologies for absence given at the last meeting, the minutes of the meeting held on 9 August 2007 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

92.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr A.J. Byrne and Mr B. Rose and Mr M. Broughton (Scrutiny Officer).

93.

Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a person or prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

The following declarations of interest were noted:

 

  • Mr R.G. Kybird – Personal interest as recorded under minute 50/07 of Policy Development and Review Panel 1 of 30 August 2007

  • Mr J. Rogers – Personal and prejudicial interests as recorded under minute 58/07 of Policy Development and Review Panel 1 of 18 September 2007

  • Mr A. Joel – Personal interest as employee of company which has business dealings with Serco (Agenda Item 9)

  • Mr S.G. Bambridge – Personal interest by virtue of his working profession in relation to planning matters in connection with Agenda items 10(a) and (b)

  • Mr P. Cowen – Personal interest as professional architect in relation to planning matters in connection with Agenda items 10(a) and (b)

  • Mr K. Gilbert – Personal interest as employed by Royal Mail in connection with Agenda item 6.

94.

Non-Members wishing to address the Meeting

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

Minutes:

The following members were in attendance:

 

  • Mrs J. Ball
  • Mr M. Kiddle-Morris

95.

Post Office Network Change Programme (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

A briefing paper is attached for members’ information and Mr John Levantis of Postwatch will be in attendance for this review.

Minutes:

The Commission considered a briefing paper from the Operations Manager for Commercial Services and a presentation was received from Mr. J. Levantis, Regional Committee Member of Postwatch, an independent body set up under the Postal Services Act 2000 and whose principal statutory objective is to “protect, promote and develop the interests of all customers of postal services in the United Kingdom”.

 

In July 2007, Post Office Ltd announced that it was embarking on a Network Change Programme following the Government’s announcement in May 2007 on its future policy towards the Post Office network.

 

The Government had recognised the need to modernise and reshape the post office network against the backdrop of falling customer numbers, the decline in traditional services, changing consumer behaviour and rising losses (now standing at £4m a week).  The Government’s proposals involved:

 

  • The proposed closure nationwide of up to 2,500 branches (out of 14,300 currently) (both urban and rural)

 

  • The introduction of minimum access criteria in respect of the remaining branches

 

  • Future Government support funding for the network

 

  • The introduction of 500 ‘outreach’ branches

 

There were approximately 52 post offices in Breckland, of which approximately 10% could be affected.

 

Post Office Ltd (POL) was required to maintain a network against the following criteria:

1.      99% of the population to be within 3 miles (i.e. walking distance) and 90% of the population to be within 1 mile of a post office

2.      99% of the population in deprived urban areas to be within 1 mile of a post office

3.      95% of the urban population to be within 1 mile of a post office

4.      95% of the rural population to be within 3 miles of a post office

5.      For each post code district, 95% of the population of the postcode to be within 6 miles of a post office

When reviewing the network, POL was also required to take into consideration the physical environment, availability of public transport and alternative access to key services, local demographics and the impact on local economies.

 

The Government was expecting the changes to be implemented over an 18 month period.  The country had been divided into 50 areas, each of which would have a local plan and be subject to a detailed planning process and be subject to a 6 weeks’ public consultation period starting in March 2008.

 

A certain amount of partner activity had already commenced, involving the Norfolk Rural Community Council, all Norfolk Local Authorities and Postwatch as part of a pre-consultation process.

 

In his presentation to members, Mr Levantis explained that Postwatch’s role was to:

 

                Scrutinise proposals to ensure that POL takes all relevant ‘on the ground’ facts into consideration

                Ensure that POL adheres to the Government’s access criteria

                Encourage meaningful local engagement and feedback

                Work with POL and the local community where it felt plans needed amending

 

Under the pre-consultation stage, Postwatch would receive POL’s plans 10 weeks before public consultation, scrutinise the proposals through fieldwork and research and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95.

96.

Capital Strategy (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Report of the Chief Accountant.

 

Minutes:

The Chief Accountant presented the draft Capital Strategy for the Commission’s information and comment, prior to submission of the Strategy to the Cabinet and full Council for adoption.

 

No issues were raised and it was

 

         RESOLVED that the draft Capital Strategy be noted.

97.

Medium Term Financial Strategy (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 669 KB

Report of the Chief Accountant.

 

Minutes:

The Chief Accountant presented the draft Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2008/9 – 2014/15 for the Commission’s information and comment, prior to its submission to the Cabinet and full Council for adoption.

 

In answer to a question regarding the budget for the Concessionary Bus Fares Scheme, the Chief Accountant explained that it was understood that there would be an additional grant from the Government towards the costs of the national scheme which was due to commence in April 2008.  It would be necessary to keep the matter under review and, if necessary, to make adequate provision in the budget should the grant from the Government be insufficient to cover the costs of the scheme.

 

A member highlighted the fact that bus operators were ceasing some services as unviable as a direct result of the increased uptake in the use of bus passes and that while the majority of subsidised bus services were able to survive, those commercial services which were not subsidised were seriously affected.  There was also a correlation between the reduction in bus services and increased car journeys.

 

         RESOLVED that

 

(1)         the draft Medium Term Strategy be noted; and

(2)         a review into the impact of changes to the concessionary bus fares scheme on bus services be considered for inclusion in the Commission’s future work programme.

98.

Environmental Services & Security Contract - Performance Update (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Environmental Services)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Contracts Manager presented the report, which updated members on performance of the Environmental Services contract for the period April to June 2007.

 

The Interim Contracts Manager answered a number of questions of detail from members, from which the following points were noted:

 

  • Some clarification of the performance indicator relating to year-on year reductions in fly tipping incidents and enforcements would help the performance figures to be better understood.

  • In noting the limiting of certain areas for litter picking, members asked for details of those areas where litter picking had been ceased to be notified to them.

  • The officers were not aware of any proposals to take glass at the Costessey recycling centre at the present time.  The question of glass recycling collections was still being considered and there were a number of issues still to be overcome, for example the issue of contamination.  However, the Interim Contracts Manager undertook to investigate the system for collection of glass and food waste being operated in Norwich.

  • In regard to whether the Service Contract provided for bin collections from the kerbside or the curtilage of properties, the Interim Contracts Manager undertook to verify the contract specification on this point.  In the meantime, he advised that residents with special needs could request an assisted collection.

  • The Interim Contracts Manager agreed to look into and clarify the position in regard to the charging and payment arrangements to parishes for bottle bank collections and provide guidance for members’ information on appointing or changing collectors.

         RESOLVED that, subject to the above-mentioned matters, the report be noted.

99.

Policy Development and Review Panels (Agenda Item 10)

To consider reports from Panel Chairmen in respect of the following meetings:

9907a

Panel 1 - Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting held on 18 September 2007

Additional documents:

Minutes:

     (i)      Local Development Framework: Core Strategy – Analysis of Candidate Local Service Centre Villages (Minute 61/07)

The Environmental Planning Manager clarified the following points in answer to members’ questions:

 

§         Swanton Morley:  Further clarification was being sought from the Parish Council as to its views on the level of any further growth, i.e. whether its stated figure of 100 homes was on the basis of incremental growth or otherwise.

§         It was felt that there was sufficient supporting evidence to ensure that proposals were not being considered in isolation from the wider implications for the District as a whole.  Relevant map(s) would be included for members’ information at the next stage of the Panel’s consideration.

The recommendation to delete Bawdeswell from the candidate list was questioned on the grounds that the north of the District appeared to be not provided for and it was felt that Bawdeswell was strategically placed along the A1067 between King’s Lynn and Norwich and should qualify as a local service centre to serve the villages in the surrounding area.

 

Concern was also expressed about the position regarding Carbrooke, given the proposed level of housing growth.  It was noted that there was a growing likelihood that a boundary review for Carbrooke and Watton would be initiated at some point.

 

In response to a question, the Monitoring Officer explained that the LDF process was now approaching its critical stages.  Neither the Panels nor the Commission were empowered to make decisions about the wording in the final LDF; full Council would make the final decision.  It was not considered that the Commission had the power to override the views of a Panel.  Any supplementary or other comments that the Commission wished to make would have to be considered alongside those of the Panel.

 

The point was also made that the Commission did, of course, have the right to agree or disagree with recommendations made to it and for itself to make recommendations to Cabinet/Council.

 

RESOLVED that the Commission considers that, from a strategic point of view regarding the northern part of the District, Bawdeswell should be reconsidered for inclusion as a candidate local service centre to serve the number of villages along the A1067 and asks that its views be incorporated as part of the ongoing work towards finalising the Breckland Core Strategy and Development Control Policies document for consultation as part of the LDF later in 2007.

 

         Note:  Mr J. Rogers left the meeting during the discussion regarding the village of Carbrooke.

 

(ii)     Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 1 held on 18 September 2007 be adopted.

9907b

Panel 1 - Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting held on 30 August 2007 pdf icon PDF 466 KB

Minutes:

(i)      Thetford Growth Point Status (Minute 52/07)

 

A member asked whether, given the proposed housing growth figure of 6,000, the question of provision for associated issues of hospital and crematoria/burial sites to meet such a level of growth was being taken into account.

 

It was noted that Thetford Town Council, as the responsible authority for burial land, had begun to look at the question of burial land, including possible alternatives for woodland burials.

 

The Environmental Planning Manager confirmed that these issues would be taken into account as part of the development process.

 

(ii)     Norfolk County Council A47 to A1067 Link Improvement Consultation (Minute 53/07)

A typographical correction to this item was noted in that the response to the County Council’s consultation had been made under Executive Member’s delegated powers in order to meet the consultation deadline and the concluding paragraph entitled “recommendation” should, in fact, read “resolved”.

(iii)    Adoption

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 1 held on 30 August 2007 be adopted.

9907c

Panel 2 - Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting held on 4 September 2007 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Minutes:

(i)      All Members Matter Programme for Breckland District Council (Minute 42/07)

 

         This item was considered under Minute 100/07 below.

 

(ii)     Adoption


RESOLVED that the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 2 held on 4 September 2007 be adopted.

9907d

Panel 3 - Unconfirmed minutes of the meeting held on 11 September 2007 pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Minutes:

(i)      Operation of Leisure Facilities at Dereham and Thetford (Minute 40/07)

 

The Commission noted from this item that the work of the Sports Development Officer and Arts Development Officer had improved the availability of arts and sporting facilities within Breckland and that, In the light of this, the Panel recommended that the service term of the Arts Development Officer should be extended.

 

The Commission supported the views of the Panel and accordingly

 

RECOMMENDEDto Cabinet to give consideration to extending the service term of the Arts Development Officer.

 

(ii)     Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 3 held on 11 September 2007 be adopted.

100.

All Members Matter Programme for Breckland District Council (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Cabinet Office).

 

This item has also been considered by Policy Development and Review Panel 2 at its meeting on 4 September 2007 (Minute 42/07 of the minutes of that meeting (agenda item 11c above) refers).

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager presented the report in conjunction with the recommendation contained in Minute 42/07 of the meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 2 held on 4 September 2007.  

 

It was explained that, following the last Comprehensive Performance Assessment in 2004, the Council was asked to review the training, development and support provided to its elected members.  Subsequently, the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) had undertaken a review of the issue of member support and produced a report identifying possible areas for improvement.  Officers had analysed the report and produced a draft action plan to deliver the improvements for members’ consideration.

 

The report from the LGIU and the resulting draft Action Plan were considered by Panel 2 at its meeting on 4 September and the Commission noted the detailed response to the draft Action Plan as contained in Minute 42/07 of that meeting.

 

The Commission supported the recommendation from Panel 2 and accordingly

 

         RECOMMENDED to Cabinet to agree and adopt the Action Plan.

101.

Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 50 KB

To consider the Annual Report of the Commission.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

         RESOLVED that the draft Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report be approved for submission to the Council.

102.

Project Create Task & Finish Panel (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To receive the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Project Create Task & Finish Panel held on 9 August 2007.

 

Minutes:

         RESOLVED that the unconfirmed minutes of the meeting of the Project Create Task and Finish Panel held on 9 August 2007 be received and noted.

103.

Work Programme (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 8 KB

(a)               A copy of the Commission’s work programme is attached, together with a copy of the current issue of the Forward Plan of the Executive for members’ information.  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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that he hoped to arrange a meeting with all Panel Chairmen in the very near future to review the various work programmes.

 

The following matters were agreed for inclusion in the future programme of reviews:

 

  • Concessionary Bus Fares Scheme – Impact of changes on bus services (to include evidence from bus operators)

  • Land Drainage Policies – To look at potential flooding issues and drainage policies both generally and in relation to the Local Development Framework (to include evidence from Anglian Water and the Environment Agency)

 

Members were invited to bring suggested items for future review to the next meeting.

104.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 15)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 1st November 2007 at 2.15pm in the Anglia Room, Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on 1 November 2007 were noted.