Cabinet Minutes - 8 June 2010 (Agenda Item 9)
Unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 8 June 2010.
a) Dereham Memorial Hall (Minute No. 60/10)
The Leader of the Labour Group commended Cabinet for their support of this flagship project, which he believed offered huge potential, not only for Dereham and Breckland, but also mid-Norfolk and further afield. It would be a splendid arts/leisure complex. He understood that the contractor had been announced and that work was shortly to get underway. He thanked the Council for their support in helping to bring this project forward.
An Independent Member concurred, adding that whilst Breckland Council had a good reputation for supporting village projects, he hoped that support given to the Dereham Memorial Hall boded well for similar projects in other Breckland towns.
The Chairman agreed, adding that the Memorial Hall would be of enormous value and the project was now moving forward fast.
b) Request for the Release of a Restrictive Covenant at Sandy Lane, Dereham (Minute No. 62/10)
The Leader of the Labour Group commented on the Resolution to release the Restrictive Covenant at nil consideration. This would enable the redevelopment of the site to accommodate two new flats for affordable housing. He felt that there was a fine balance between the acknowledged need for social housing, against understandable sensitivities about filling spaces in and around already established estates. He therefore sought assurance from the Deputy Leader that there would be correct scrutiny by the Council before any further Restrictive Covenants were waived.
In response the Deputy Leader pointed out that:
i) every application was considered on its merits;
ii) the new Government was clamping down on ‘garden grabbing’;
iii) there was a huge housing need, albeit the proposed distribution throughout the District needed to be dealt with in a sensitive way;
iv) the Ward Rep was in favour of the Sandy Lane proposal; and
v) the Cabinet needed to be mindful of obtaining the best value for money. In this respect, there would be other small areas of land where it may well prove sensible to proceed along the same route.
The Chairman added that Ward Representatives were always consulted about such pockets of land and had the opportunity to liaise closely with the Planning Department. She agreed that there was a fine balance to be considered in such cases.
c) Brecks Countryside Project – Memorandum Agreement (Minute No. 63/10
A Member said that he had hoped that this matter could have been brought before Council for a Resolution at this meeting. This had been postponed from the Cabinet meeting on 8 June, but would definitely be considered at their next meeting in July, and hence taken to Council in August if additional funds outside of budget are required.
The project, which had been running for over 18 years, had already contributed much towards the Brecks environment and also helped sustain economic tourism in the District. There was much further potential too.
However, urgent and renewed support from Breckland Council would be vital for its future - not just financially, but also via active partnership contributions in the form of knowledge and expertise.
Another Member fully endorsed these comments, adding that in his view Breckland had dragged its feet in the past. This was a very worthwhile undertaking, meriting strong support.
Noting these comments, and the hope that this would progress urgently, the Chief Executive confirmed that he would ensure that this matter would appear before the July Cabinet meeting. He added a note of caution though that if the report sought to use additional funding, then this might not actually be in the budget. If that were the case, then Cabinet would need to recommend this additional expenditure to Council.
A Member then queried why, if this was an acknowledged Partnership project, allowance had not been made in the budget.
The Chief Executive said that he had used his words cautiously: “If there was no provision in the budget…”. If there was not, then the decision to spend the money could not be taken at July’s Cabinet meeting: it would be necessary to make a recommendation up to Council for a decision in August.
There was some dispute over exactly how helpful Breckland Council had been with regard to the project. The Deputy Leader defended the Council’s record, saying that Breckland Council had been extremely generous to the cause over the years. However other Members felt that the Council had dragged its feet and it had taken far too long to resolve this funding issue.
RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 8 June 2010 be adopted.