Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services  Tel: 01362 865870

No. Item


Minutes (Agenda item 1) pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 10 June 2008.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 10 June 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following typographical amendments:


Housing Benefits – Anglia Revenues Partnership (Minute No. 19/08)


Second paragraph – 6th sentence – to read: “landlords must still be paid directly by the Councils, where there was discretion to do so”.


Eighth paragraph – 3rd sentence – to read: “The real effect”.




Apologies (Agenda item 2)

To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Messrs R Kybird, B Rose and F Sharpe.


Housing Performance and Improvement Plan - Monitoring Report July 2008 (Agenda item 6) pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Report by the Strategic Housing Manager – Anita Brennan.

Additional documents:


The Strategic Housing Manager presented the report, which set out progress against the delivery of the Housing Improvement Plan.


The report outlined the background to the development of the Housing Improvement Plan in response to the Audit Commission’s inspection report in May 2005.  The recommendations contained in the Improvement Plan formed the basis of the Council’s Annual Delivery Plan and the Strategic Housing Service Plan for 2007/08 and 2008/09.  These documents in turn influenced the staff appraisal process and the development of statutory documents, such as the housing and homelessness strategies.


Progress against the targets contained in the Plan had been consistent since its adoption, despite pressure on the team to respond to other national and local targets not contained within the Improvement Plan itself.


The majority of targets had been met.   The main recommendation outstanding for the Housing Team was a comprehensive review of the Council’s private sector policies on empty properties and fuel poverty and the development of a new Private Sector Housing Strategy.  Although work was well under way on these recommendations, the completion had been delayed somewhat by the Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) response to Breckland’s request for a district wide licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupations (HMO).


Referring to the HMO scheme, the Strategic Housing Manager explained that the DCLG had requested that Breckland Council should concentrate on towns only, in particular, Thetford.  Although this approach had not been supported by the Housing Team, further consultation would take place with all Town Councils.  A policy would then be implemented on the market towns following which the Housing Team would lobby for a full district wide licensing scheme. This scheme would allow the Council to licence all HMO landlords.  Landlords that failed to abide by this scheme could be fined an amount of £20K. 


The Chairman was concerned about the Government not backing such a scheme.  Another Member asked whether the Government’s response to this scheme had been published. The Strategic Housing Manager advised that no formal written response had been received; however, she had been contacted by the DCLG to discuss the Council’s desire to adopt such a scheme and to assess how the approach on market towns could be developed.


Referring to fuel poverty this policy would be brought back to the Panel in due course and would cover matters such as energy efficiency and budgeting etc.  A Member was very concerned about this matter as he was aware that fuel costs would increase to £1200 for an average Band D property; for Norfolk that equated to more than 10% of an average household’s income.  He felt that the figures should be modified for Norfolk and that the Council should be facing the prospective problems sooner rather than later.  The Strategic Housing Manager agreed with the aforementioned comments but highlighted that there were already a number of schemes in operation which were explained.  One of the schemes involved working with the Council’s RSL’s partners to wield their purchase powers to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Leisure PFI Update (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 188 KB

Report of the PFI Monitoring and Sports Development Officer – Riana Rudland.


The PFI Monitoring and Sports Development Officer presented the report which provided Members with an update and overview of the PFI Leisure contract and the performance of Dereham Leisure and Breckland Leisure Centres.


The first 12 months of operation of the centres had proved an exciting and challenging time for the operator Parkwood Leisure, who had worked hard to drive up participation and memberships while coping with some ongoing defects resulting from the building phase.  The key challenges during this period had related to the tiles in the learner pool at Dereham and the MUGA fencing at Thetford, both of which had now been rectified with pleasing outcomes.


The overall usage of the Leisure Centres had increased dramatically, particularly for Dereham.  Dereham Leisure Centre had achieved Quest accreditation, the leisure industry quality award scheme for leisure management, with an excellent first time score of 72%.  This score had put Dereham in the “commended” category. Breckland Leisure Centre was currently undergoing Quest.


The PFI Monitoring and Sports Development Officer explained the rigorous assessment process.  Quest Approval status lasted for two years, and was supplemented by an additional maintenance visit, and mystery visit. This mandatory stage ensured that quality of service delivery was maintained and/or continuously improved in line with the Quest standards. In response to a question about who carried out these inspections, it was confirmed that QLM, an independent organisation, was responsible for this work and Parkwood paid for the privilege of being inspected. The Chairman asked for the results of Breckland Leisure Centre to be emailed to Panel Members.


Both facilities had also gained the environmental management standard ISO14001 in recognition of the environmental systems in place.


An additional investment of £35k by Parkwood Leisure had been made to improve the MUGA netting and the café are in Thetford.  A high level catch net had been installed on the MUGA to limit the number of balls deflecting into the adjoining properties.  This had greatly improved the relationship with these residents.  Investment into the catering facilities had resulted in a brand new front counter and serving area, a new store room, kitchen and state of the art catering equipment.  A number of user satisfaction surveys had also been undertaken during the first year of operation covering a range of service areas that had resulted in the menu being changed at Thetford. Another area of improvement that had been identified was signposting.   Parkwood had been in discussions with Norfolk County Council about better signage being installed for the Thetford Leisure Centre.  As for Dereham, Parkwood was looking at installing a large sign outside which for the moment it lacked.


There had been a dramatic increase in swimming lessons both in Dereham and in Thetford. A table showing comparative figures for both centres had been included in the report.  The PFI Monitoring and Sports Development Officer said that it was evident that the level of increase was due to Parkwood branding.


The PFI Monitoring and Sports Development Officer highlighted on-going issues for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Provision of Dog and Pest Control Service (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Report of the Head of Environmental Health – Mike Wheatley.


The Head of Environmental Health provided Members with the background to this report which was to review the future provision of the Dog Warden and Pest Control Services.


The Dog Warden report had been to Cabinet on 22 July where an option had been agreed to go forward to Council for a decision.


The Pest Control options would be going to the next Cabinet meeting on 9th September.


In the interim both services were meeting statutory deadlines.


Following a number of questions, the report was noted.


Breckland Health Improvement Work Programme/Smoke Free Compliance (Agenda item 9)

Verbal reports by the Health Improvement Manager, Martin Seymour and Oliver Clark from Clarkson Business Services.


Members were informed that this report would be discussed at the next meeting scheduled for 16 September 2008.


Work Programme (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To receive the Work Programme and note any amendments.


The Member Development and Scrutiny Officer circulated a revised work programme.  The following items had been programmed for the next meeting:


  • Housing Waiting List – Allocations Policy & CBL
  • Breckland Health Improvement Work Programme
  • Monitoring of Homelessness Strategy Action Plan
  • Smoke Free Compliance
  • GP Led  Health Centres in Rural Areas (Poly Clinics)


This full Agenda would include time slots.


Next Meeting (Agenda item 11)

To note that the next meeting of Policy Development and Review Panel 3 will be held at 10.00am on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 in the Norfolk Room, Dereham.


The arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 were noted.