Agenda item

Cabinet: 20 November 2007 (Agenda item 5)

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 20 November 2007.

Minutes:

a)            Value for Money Strategy (Minute No. 133/07)

 

The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office stated that the Value for Money Strategy would help the Council create greater public understanding of what value for money was, how it was measured and how the Council could continue to provide the delivery of cost effective services.

 

An Independent Panel would be created to monitor executive resources.

 

RESOLVED that the Value for Money Strategy be approved.

 

b)            Child Protection Policy (Minute No. 134/07

 

The Democratic Services Manager made Members aware that the identification of those Members for whom it would be appropriate to require a Criminal Records Bureau check be delegated to the Chairman of the Cabinet meeting at which the recommendation was made.

 

The Executive Member for Community and Cultural Services stated that the Council believed that all children should be able to live their lives to the fullest potential, to be protected, and to have the opportunity to participate in and enjoy any activity, and to be treated with dignity and respect.  The Child Protection Policy would be there to protect Breckland Council, young people and the children within the district.

 

RESOLVED that

 

a)            the Child Protection Policy be adopted; and

 

b)            future changes to the practices and procedures which support the Council’s Child Protection Policy be delegated to the appropriate Executive Member in consultation with the Strategic Director.

 

c)            Breckland Council-Owned Land at Croxton Road, Thetford – Family Accommodation (Minute No. 135/07)

 

A Member said that the Cabinet’s decision to transfer the council-owned land at Croxton Road to Cotman Housing Association had given rise to great concern to the town.  He further felt that the land would be dangerous to build on as he was aware that it had been a former rubbish tip.  The Member asked whether the Council would be donating some of the money from the sale of the land back into Thetford.

The Leader stated that the Council had a very clear policy on the disposal of its assets and that the money would be used for the good of the community not just for one particular town.  In response to the contaminated land issue, the Operations Manager for Commercial Services advised that he had not been aware that the land had been a former tip; however, further site investigations would be carried out with Cotman Housing Association, prior to the formal consultation process. 

Another Member felt that a further issue that should be taken into consideration was the loss of open space.

 

d)            Sustainable Community Steering Group (Minute No. 136/07)

 

The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office advised that it was the Government’s aim to build a vision on how to provide Strategic Leadership.  He hoped that together with these two policy documents, the Sustainable Community Strategy and the Local Development Framework, life and biodiversity within Breckland would be significantly enhanced.

 

The Leader of the Labour Group queried the source of the statement that only large urban areas would be considered as sustainable.  It was pointed out that this comment emanated from Government, to whom any queries on the definition should be directed.

 

RESOLVED that

 

1)            the formation of a Sustainable Communities Steering Group be approved; and

 

2)            the following Members be appointed as Members of the Sustainable Communities Steering Group:

 

Mr W Nunn

Mrs A Steward

Mr D Myers

Mr M Kiddle-Morris

Claire Bowes

Mr B Borrett

Mrs M Chapman-Allen

One vacancy (Labour)

 

e)      Audit Committee (Minute No. 138/07)

 

The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office informed Members that an effective Audit Committee would benefit the authority by:

 

o        Raising greater awareness of the need for internal control.

o        Increasing public confidence.

o        Reinforcing the importance and independence of internal and external audit.

 

The Executive Member thanked Mark Stokes, Mark Finch and Stephen McGrath for all their hard work in preparing the report.

 

In response to a question, Members were informed that the Audit Committee would be open to the public and full minutes of the meetings would be taken. Members were further informed that external representatives would be appointed as co-opted advisors, albeit without voting rights, in addition to elected Members. 

 

The Opposition Leader agreed that there was a clear need to take out the financial matters from the Scrutiny agenda and he was in favour of an Audit Committee; however, he was not happy about the Audit Committee “stealing the thunder” from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

 

The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office stated that the guidelines of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) excluded the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and the Executive from the audit function.  He reminded Members that with the pending re-structure of the Overview and Scrutiny function there would be plenty of other matters, other than finance, for the Scrutiny Commission to deal with.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Commission Chairman endorsed the above comments and felt that it was important that the Council had an independent committee that was targeted and focused on financial matters.

 

A Member asked whether the Audit Committee was a resurrection of the former Finance Committee.  The Executive Member for the Cabinet Office explained that the Audit Committee would be doing exactly what it implied, to audit; there would be no emasculation of the Scrutiny function.  A Member felt that the Audit Committee would relieve some of the pressure and some of the ramifications of audit throughout the year and would also remove some of the risk that had been borne by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

 

RESOLVED that the establishment of an Audit Committee be approved, as follows:

 

(1)     appropriate amendments be made to the Council’s Constitution;

 

(2)     the Terms of Reference, as detailed in paragraph 4.3.1 of the report, be adopted;

 

(3)         The power of final approval of the accounts remain with full Council;

 

(4)         external representatives be appointed if necessary, as co-opted advisors, without voting rights;

 

(5)         the Independent Renumeration Panel be asked to consider whether external representatives be paid an allowance;

 

(6)         the Audit Committee to determine its meeting programme/schedule with at least four meetings being held each year; and

 

(7)         the Audit Committee to comprise of five members and to be politically balanced (currently four Conservatives and one from the minority parties),

 

(8)         the following Members be appointed:

 

Mr P Hewett

Mr R Kybird

Mr C Jordan

Mr R Childerhouse

Mr M Fanthorpe

 

f)       Adoption

 

RESOLVED that the unconfirmed Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 20 November 2007 be adopted.

 

Supporting documents: