Agenda item

Abbey Estate: Joint Working with Flagship Group

Report of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen.

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the report and explained the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) had been developed to underpin the collaboration between Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council and Flagship Group and set out the basis on which the three parties would work together to create meaningful change and improvements to the Abbey Estate. 

 

The Chief Executive highlighted that the MOU was not a legally binding document and it should be seen as a statement of intent and shared commitment to deliver positive change to the Abbey Estate.

 

Councillor Birt felt that the MOU outlined what the Council should be doing across the District, and it was not a concrete document outlining the finances and resources required to deliver the project.   The Chief Executive added that it was a specific project that required specific attention due to the significant investment and trust between the three parties. 

 

Councillor Birt went on to say that MOU agreements were usually seen at a later stage within proceedings when finances and resources were to be considered.  The Chairman replied that the Board of Directors from the Flagship Group sought reassurance that the partners would work in a collaborative way.  Whilst it was business as usual the findings may require additional resources and finances as and when issues were raised throughout the programme.  The Chief Executive also added that it was an agile document and therefore would likely be amended as the project moved forward.

 

Councillor Birt felt it was unusual that Intellectual Property rights had been included within the MOU.  The Executive Manager for Governance reiterated that the document was not legally binding and simply set out the expectations from each party involved.  Whilst at this stage it was unclear as to what new innovations would be created, the provision established the principle that any intellectual property rights created would vest in the party whose employee had created them.

 

Councillor Jermy thanked Officers for the briefing that had been given to Thetford Members which had proved very useful.  He felt it was a huge opportunity for Breckland to be involved, and to use those that were democratically accountable and had local expertise to help guide the project.  He went on to say there could be a lot learnt from previous work that had been undertaken on the Abbey Estate and outlined five points he felt needed consideration:

Expectation management – residents had been promised a lot in the past and it was important to be clear on what the project would set out to achieve before sending out press releases.

 

Recognising good things – should focus on what is going well within the Abbey Estate such as community spirit, the green areas, community centre events etc.

 

Trust – Flagship has had a poor reputation within Thetford and it was important to empower organisations and make the distinction between regeneration and day-to-day activities.

 

Time – it will take time to deal with some of the issues and is reliant on key individuals to deliver projects.

 

Communication – communication would be key to deliver the project.

 

The Chairman thanked Councillor Jermy and he felt those were valid points. 

 

Reasons for recommendation

The proposal was considered to align closely with Breckland Council’s strategic vision and priorities for the five years 2019-2023 as agreed in the Corporate Plan.  The rationale behind the proposal is to improve the physical, environmental and community elements of the estate in a manner agreed with the local community.

 

Options

1.     Approve the Memorandum of Understanding.

2.     Do not approve the proposal, as Norfolk County Council and Flagship Group could develop the scheme between themselves without Breckland.  If this route was taken, Breckland Council would remain a statutory consultee on any planning application.

3.     Do nothing.

 

RESOLVED that the Memorandum of Understanding between Flagship Group, Norfolk County Council and Breckland Council be approved.

Supporting documents: