Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)
To receive a verbal update from Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of the Council.
The following announcements were made by Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, the Leader of the Council:
New Appointment – Executive Manager for People & Innovation
Following the retirement of Phil Adams, Jason Cole from Aviva Group, had recently been recruited as the new Executive Manager for People & Innovation. He thanked Councillor Jermy and Councillor Claussen who sat on the Joint Appointments Panel with him along with colleagues from South Holland District Council. Matthew Cross, the interim Manager, would continue in this role until January 2020.
Town Delivery Plan
The Breckland Town Delivery Plans would be considered later on in the agenda. The Leader, as well as colleagues across the Chamber, were absolutely committed to supporting Breckland’s market towns and surrounding hinter lands to ensure these communities could thrive. The challenges faced by these communities could not be addressed just by the public sector, it had to be addressed by all. To work in isolation was no longer achievable. Whilst many organisations had plans and strategies, the Leader felt that it was important for Breckland as the local district council to bring all these agencies together and facilitate a focus on each one of the towns independently to support these areas. Residents of these towns and communities were the best source of information for some of the solutions/ proposals that could be taken forward in true collaboration. Initial discussions were taking place at the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the County Council, businesses, the police and the community sector to support this initiative. He hoped that all would come together to drive this collaborative work forward and he urged Members to support the item when discussed.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government had written to all Local Authorities urging Councils to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-semitism. The definition was highlighted as follows:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”.
The definition, whilst not legally binding, had already been adopted by the UK Government and was being used in guidance by the Crown Prosecution Service. This Council in partnership with the local Police Force would continue to protect Breckland’s communities, tackling all forms of hate crime. The Leader of the main Opposition Group had been consulted on adopting this definition on behalf of the Council. The Leader was sure that all Members across the Council would join him in condemning all forms of racism, including antisemitism and commit to continue to fight against them.
All Members supported the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
Commitment to Carers
As an employer, the Council was committed to support all staff and recognised that people who were caring for their loved ones and friends and family outside their work needed flexibility to support them. Breckland Council was proud to offer that flexibility by offering a 24/7 employee assistance programme and an occupational health provider. The Council would ensure that its policies moving forward fully reflected this commitment and would be signing up to being a carer friendly employer.
Urgent Business Rates Pool Decision
Following a short time frame provided by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), all local authorities were invited to pool business rates for the year 2020/2021 with the deadline being the 25th October 2019, the Leader was pleased to confirm that all Norfolk Councils had once again agreed to form the Norfolk Business Rates Pool. This would mean that the levy payments for business rates growth which would have been paid to Central Government would now be paid to the Norfolk Business Rates Pool to invest in Norfolk and allow those Norfolk Councils to decide where those priorities sat.
Councillor Ian Sherwood was now the lead on Climate Change & Strategy
Councillor Sarah Suggitt and Councillor Jane James had both been appointed as Executive Support Members to the Cabinet.
Referring to the Breckland Town Delivery Plans, Councillor Jermy the Leader of the Labour Group asked the Leader if he could provide assurance that whatever was produced was broken down into short, medium and long term targets and that performance monitoring was built in too. In response, the Leader advised that he could not pre-empt the Council’s decision but reassured Members that this, if approved, would be owned by a plethora of other agencies not just the District Council. He agreed that it would be an extremely useful tool to hold those agencies to account and would be happy for the Overview & Scrutiny Commission to monitor this process. The governance of how this should work for each community had not, as yet been ratified but he would ensure that the Chief Executive would feed this into the final tender documents prior to submission if Members were minded to support it.
Councillor Atterwill asked if each of the towns would be looked at consecutively or concurrently. The Leader advised that the format had not been decided as yet but advice would be sought from the consultant as to whether each town should be looked at individually or altogether. A full answer to this question would not be possible until the Council had been through the initial tendering process. Councillor Atterwill felt that as a great deal of emphasis had been on Attleborough and Thetford over recent years he hoped that Dereham would not be at the end of this process.