Agenda item

Questions without Notice under Standing Order No 7 (Agenda item 7)

Minutes:

Councillor Morton asked what the timetable was for the Council to adopt the Local Plan including all the Inspector’s recommendations.  In response, Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Planning advised that he believed the adoption would take place at the newly announced Full Council meeting on 28 November 2019 but whether all recommendations would be taken into account would be the Council’s decision.

 

Following a recent meeting with the Chief Executive, Councillor Birt said that he had been reminded of a section of the Constitution that stated: ‘Members must use their IT equipment and emails provided by the Council.’ With this in mind, he wondered whether there was a different view on this considering that it appeared to be at variance with current legislations specifically statutory instrument 2015 No. 5, the Local Government Electronic Communications Order that only permitted such electronic communications with the consent of the person involved and to a particular email address.  He was certain that he had never been asked for consent, let alone given it, and had actually refused consent on a number of occasions.  His query was, however, how this variance between the Council’s Standing Orders and legislation seemed to ‘play out’ and how much consent had actually been sought from the whole of the Council.

 

In response, the Chief Executive pointed out that she was still in dialogue with Officers and Managers about a whole range of questions that had previously been asked by Councillor Birt, some being quite legal and some quite constitutional.  She believed that Councillor Birt had met recently with Jason Tillyard, the Council’s IT Manager and some questions had been answered even though he had been dealing with an IT emergency.  She was also aware that Mark Stinson, the Executive Manager for Governance, had been looking at some of the constitutional questions and as this question required further consideration, she would be happy to put this question forward for Councillor Birt at a meeting that had been arranged with the Executive Manager.  The Chief Executive advised that she would also be happy to share to all Members the answers given to Councillor Birt’s questions.

 

Councillor Jermy directed his question to Councillor Alison Webb, the Executive Member for Housing, Health & Environment.  He and Councillor Harvey had recently spent an hour touring their Ward looking for broken and faulty street lights and, in just an hour, had found 10 broken lights most of them being owned by Breckland Council. He asked Councillor Webb for assurance that there was sufficient resource to get these lights fixed quickly particularly now that the nights were getting darker.  Councillor Webb totally agreed that for public safety these lights should be in working order and would investigate and put forward this matter as high priority.<2>

 

Councillor Gilbert asked the Chairman if she would receive his kind thanks for all the good wishes on his recent wedding.

 

Councillor Taila Taylor asked when Breckland Council would be submitting a formal declaration on its 5 year housing land supply.  Councillor Bambridge assured Members that when the Local Plan was adopted the Council would have its 5 year housing land supply.

 

Councillor Colman asked if the Executive Member for Assets would like to join him in thanking Officers of the Asset Team for working tirelessly over the past few months pulling together and promoting the parking trial in Swaffham.  The time limits had been live for a few weeks and had been very well received locally and he knew that he and Councillor Sherwood, the Executive Member for Customer Engagement and a Ward Member for Swaffham had both received positive responses from residents and business owners in the town.  Councillor Paul Hewett, the Executive Member for Contracts & Assets endorsed the aforementioned comments.

 

Councillor Atterwill asked for clarification in respect of the reply to Councillor Taylor’s question in relation to the 5 year housing land supply.  According to the Inspectors Report, Breckland Council had a 5.24 year housing land supply using the Sedgefield method.  He felt disappointed that Breckland Council was not able to demonstrate that it had the required 20% buffer and he asked what the Council’s strategy was to address this situation as he felt that windfall developments should be taken into account when the Examination Hearings took place.  Councillor Bambridge said that he would have to get back to Councillor Atterwill on this matter but his understanding was that the Council had a 4.77 year housing land supply and would be legally within the 5 year land supply until at least October 2020 on the basis of the Local Plan if and when it was adopted. However, he would need to speak to relevant Officers to get a more detailed answer.

 

The Leader concurred with Councillor Atterwill on another question about whether he agreed that it was good practice for all Members to regularly review their published Register of Interests in relation to their individual roles and responsibilities as Councillors. 

 

Councillor Dowling asked a question about the speculated delay to the proposed dualling of the A47 between East Tuddenham and Easton and asked what the timetable was for this work to start.  The Leader pointed out that he had attended a recent LEP Board meeting in which this exact question had been raised.  He reported that the timetable for this work to start had not as yet been confirmed additionally no delays had been mentioned but as soon as any information came forward he would keep all Members of the Council informed.

 

Councillor Terry mentioned the recent murder of a resident in Thetford being linked to county lines and asked if the Executive Member could provide an update about any involvement the Council had with county lines.  In response, the Leader advised that this matter had not been through the formal process as yet but he would be asking this Council for confirmation of spend in relation to supporting Norfolk Constabulary with county lines.