Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 16th October, 2019 9.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices. View directions

Contact: Matthew Stembrowicz  Email:

No. Item


To Receive Apologies for Absence


Apologies received from Cllr T Adams.






Public Questions & Statements

To receive questions / statements from the public, if any.


None received.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 18th September 2019.


The minutes of the meeting held on 18th September were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Items of Urgent Business

To determine any other items of business which the Chairman decides should be considered as a matter of urgency pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


None received.


Declarations of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in any of the following items on the agenda. The Code of Conduct for Members requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest.


None declared.


Petitions From Members of the Public

To consider any petitions received from members of the public.


None received.


Consideration of Any Matter Referred to the Committee by a Member

To consider any requests made by non-executive Members of the Council, and notified to the Monitoring Officer with seven clear working days’ notice, to include an item on the agenda of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


None received.


Responses of the Council or the Cabinet to the Committee's Reports or Recommendations

To consider any responses of the Council or the Cabinet to the Committee’s reports or recommendations:


At the meeting of Cabinet on Monday 7th October, Members agreed to the Overview & Scrutiny Committee’s recommendation to develop an Executive/Scrutiny Protocol.


The DS&GOS informed Members that at their meeting on Monday 7th October, Cabinet had agreed to the Committee’s recommendation to develop an Executive-Scrutiny Protocol, and that work was now underway.













Options considered:

This report sets out alternative options for the level of council tax discounts which Full Council will resolve shall apply to classes of dwelling for the financial year 2020/21.


The determinations are made by the Council under sections 11A and 11B, and of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, subsequent enabling powers and Regulations made under the Act.


The recommendations take advantage of the reforms included in the Local Government Finance Act 2012 as amended to generate additional revenue. 




The legislation provides local authorities with the power to make changes to the level of council tax discount in relation to classes of property. The Council has to approve its determinations for each financial year. The calculation of the tax base for 2020/21 will be made on the assumption that the determinations recommended below will apply. 



























































Reasons for




Members recommend that Full Council shall resolve that under section 11A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, and in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 2012 and other enabling powers one of the following applies:


Recommendation 1


(a)          The discounts for the year 2020/21 and beyond are set at the levels indicated in the table at paragraph 2.1.

(b)          The premium for long term empty properties (those that have been empty for a consecutive period longer than 24 months) is set at 100% of the Council Tax charge for that dwelling

(c)           The premium for long term empty properties (those that have been empty for a consecutive period longer than 60 months) is set at 200% of the Council Tax charge for that dwelling

(d)          To continue to award a local discount of 100% for eligible cases of care leavers under section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as amended).

(e)          That an exception to the levy charges may be made by the Section 151 Officer in conjunction with the Portfolio holder for Finance, on advice of the Revenues Manager in the circumstances laid out in section 3.6 of this report.


Recommendation 2


(a)          those dwellings that are specifically identified under regulation 6 of the Council Tax (Prescribed Classes of Dwellings)(England) Regulations 2003 will retain the 50% discount and;

(b)          those dwellings described or geographically defined at Appendix A which in the reasonable opinion of the Head of Finance and Asset Management are judged not to be structurally capable of occupation all year round and were built before the restrictions of seasonal usage were introduced by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, will be entitled to a 35% discount.


In accordance with the relevant legislation these determinations shall be published in at least one newspaper circulating in North Norfolk before the end of the period of 21 days beginning with the date of the determinations.



To set appropriate council tax discounts which will apply in 2020/21 in accordance with the legal requirements and to raise additional council tax revenue.



Cabinet Member(s)

Cllr E Seward

Ward(s) affected



Contact Officer,  ...  view the full agenda text for item 10.


Cllr E Seward (PH for Finance) introduced the Report, and informed Members that the RM was in attendance to answer any specific revenue related questions.


Questions and Discussion


Cllr E Seward informed Members that the Report had been approved by Cabinet on 7th October, and outlined that the key changes were to Council Tax premiums charged on empty properties. It was noted that this charge had been a 50% premium for empty properties, whereas now the premiums could be raised to 100% for properties empty for two years or more, and 200% for properties empty for five years or more.


It was reported that there were currently 146 properties in the district that had been empty for two or more years, and 49 that had been empty for five or more years. Cllr E Seward stated that the Council Tax premiums were a maximum inducement to bring down the number of empty properties in the district.


The RM stated that he and the Combined Enforcement Team Leader considered all options to encourage owners of empty properties to bring them back into use. He added that discretion would now also be available to premium charges in cases of development or difficulties. In response to a question from the Chairman, the RM confirmed that this discretion had not yet been utilised, as it was a new policy. He added that in some cases a 200% premium would discourage developers, but this discretion to relax premiums could encourage development by allowing limited flexibility in special cases.


The Chairman asked for the definition of an empty property, which the RM defined as unoccupied and unfurnished, with long-term being defined as six months or more. He added that in addition to the proposed premiums identified in the Report, it was expected that next year a further penalty could be introduced on properties unoccupied for ten or more years.


Cllr N Pearce asked for clarification on whether there was any leeway on the changeover period for bringing a property back into use. It was confirmed that new owners would be liable for payments from the first day of ownership, though properties would not be considered unoccupied if furnished. The RM reminded Members that single occupants were still entitled to a 25% discount.


Cllr L Shires referred to revenue data on properties in Eccles, and asked what could be done to bring these properties back into use. Cllr E Seward replied that these properties were not unoccupied, but paid lower Council Tax rates as a result of discounts applied due to poor road surfaces.


Cllr H Blathwayt asked for clarification on chalet and beach hut rates collection. The RM replied that whilst the Council acted as the collection authority, the rates themselves were set by the Valuation Office. He added that the difference between the two was a planning issue, as the Chalets were likely built prior to the implementation of seasonal planning regulations, meaning seasonal exemptions did not apply. The HECD provided further clarification that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019 – 2024 pdf icon PDF 429 KB

To review the Homeless and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019-2024 Report and consider any recommendations prior to public consultation.


Cllr A Brown (PH for Housing & Planning) introduced the Report, and stated that rough sleeping was a national plight that posed a serious risk to life. He outlined that the aim of the strategy was to achieve earlier identification of those at risk of becoming homeless, and to avoid a return to homelessness for those that had found accommodation. It was explained that the strategy would take a multi-agency approach to tackle all aspects of homelessness and rough sleeping.


Questions and Discussion


The HOM informed Members that the strategy was renewed every five years and  reviewed annually. This year the strategy was due for renewal, and had been approved for public consultation with responses required by 4th November. She added that feedback had already been received from NCC and that the Council was looking into providing additional temporary accommodation. It was confirmed that the strategy would go to Cabinet in December for final approval.


In response to a question from Cllr G Mancini-Boyle, it was confirmed that statistics on the number of homeless coming into the district was limited to those with a connection to North Norfolk.


The Chairman raised concerns regarding resource implications, and asked what the strategy would mean for the Council’s resources. The HOM replied that the strategy did not imply that there would be any increase in resources beyond the existing Housing Services Team, though funding had been previously secured for four additional fixed term posts. The Chairman asked a subsequent question on the cost implications of the strategy, to which the HOM replied that the Council would always incur costs in this area due to its duty of care. She added that due to the variable number of people in need of assistance, it was difficult to quantify a cost at this stage. The Chairman asked whether the fixed costs such as staff salaries were reported transparently in the strategy, to which the HOM replied that this had not been included previously, but could be taken into consideration as part of the consultation.


The Chairman asked whether collaborative working had been considered as part of the strategy e.g. shared services. The HOM replied that the Council did work closely with its partners, but had to focus primarily on the need in North Norfolk. She added that the Council had worked extensively with NCC to help vulnerable young people. The Chairman asked whether there was any statutory reason why the Council could not share its services. It was confirmed that there was no specific reason not to share services, though Council’s often took a different approach to one another that could make this difficult. Members were informed that all seven Councils in Norfolk did work collaboratively on specific issues such as helping domestic abuse victims.


An individual case was discussed and it was confirmed that whilst NNDC was not the principal authority handling the case, accommodation would be offered in circumstances of extreme weather, and assistance would be offered after the principal authority’s 56 day  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Splash Leisure Centre Project Update Briefing - October 2019 pdf icon PDF 635 KB

To receive a briefing on the progress of the Splash Leisure Centre Project.


Cllr V Gay (PH for Culture & Well-Being) introduced the briefing and informed Members that the briefing had been requested following a recommendation at Council for the O&S Committee to provide additional monitoring of the SLC project after £2m of additional funding was approved.


Questions and Discussion


Cllr V Gay stated that whilst the budget position on the project remained unchanged, all Members had a responsibility to continue to monitor the project. It was confirmed that the remaining sum of the Sport England grant should be delivered by November.


Cllr V Gay informed Members that risks associated with the project were ranked on a scale of 1-16k, calculated by multiplying the impact by the likelihood, and that at present, there were only medium risks ranging from 2-4k.


Communications of the project was discussed, and the Committee were reminded of the SLC event held in September to introduce new Members to the project. It was confirmed that the HECD had also attended a meeting of Sheringham Town Council to update them on the project.


The Committee agreed, in response to a question from Cllr V Gay, that the update was useful for Members to keep track and monitor the progress of the SLC project. The Chairman stated that all Councillors had a duty to help monitor the project, and added that Members must remain vigilant. He then asked whether the Committee wished to continue receiving monthly updates in the same format or consider alternate arrangements. Cllr N Housden suggested that it would be helpful to see actual spend alongside the budget, including details of any cost overruns with concerns highlighted in red. Cllr V Gay replied that the budget monitoring of the project had been included in the Report to Council, but agreed that it could be useful in the updates. The HECD stated that the budget would not change unless either significant problems were encountered or changes to the design were requested. He added that cash-flow monitoring was not necessarily needed, but agreed that it could be useful to see quarterly budget updates.


Cllr N Pearce expressed his appreciation of the Committee’s role in increased monitoring of the project, and suggested that the same level of scrutiny should have been applied from the start. He added that there were still many potential risks within the project, and that the Committee must therefore continue to monitor its progress.


The Chairman stated that a budget profile should be included in updates, as opposed to cash flow information. The HECD agreed and added that new governance arrangements had been set in place to closely monitor the budget.


Cllr J Rest reminded Committee Members that as Chairman of GRAC, he had requested that the Internal Audit Team undertake a review of the project that would include an explanation for the overspend. It was expected that the Report would be presented to the December GRAC meeting.


The Committee agreed that the SLC updates should continue at their current frequency until the Committee was satisfied that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Consideration of Recommendations from the Review of the Draft Framework of the Corporate Plan pdf icon PDF 106 KB

An extraordinary meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee was held on 9th October to review the existing Draft Framework of the Corporate Plan, a number of possible recommendations were put forward to be considered by the Committee. The purpose of this item is to consider the proposals and formalise recommendations to Cabinet.


The Chairman introduced the item and informed Members that the Committee was required to formalise recommendations raised at the additional O&S meeting, held on 9th October, to review the Draft Framework of the Corporate Plan. It was agreed that the recommendations would be taken en bloc once agreed.


Questions and Discussion


In reference to the first recommendation, Cllr J Toye stated that mobile libraries should be included when distributing hard copies of the Corporate Plan across the district. The HECD suggested that the distribution should be as broad as possible, taking into account areas that bordered the district, such as Aylsham and Wroxham. It was agreed, following a question from Cllr N Housden, that the distribution must also include all Parish and Town Councils.


On the second recommendation, the Chairman expressed disappointment that the residents’ survey used to inform the key themes of the Corporate Plan had not yet been shared with Members of the Committee. It was suggested that these concerns could be added to the recommendation, alongside a request to share the survey with Committee Members as soon as possible. Cllr L Shires stated that the Corporate Plan’s key themes echoed concerns that had been raised by the public when canvassing. Members discussed the distribution of the survey, and it was agreed that the request for further distribution and return metrics would remain, despite suggestions that further data may not be shared.


Recommendation three, to consider the renaming of the affordable housing theme was discussed, and concerns were raised that the proposed ‘local homes for local people’ could affect property values. The Chairman replied that the suggestion had to be seen in context as a generic title, that reflected the Council’s desire to build homes for local residents, which in itself was not a policy that would affect property values.


Members agreed that the content of the fourth recommendation was satisfactory.


On recommendation five, it was suggested that reference to specific areas should be changed to specific barriers faced when doing business in North Norfolk.


Members agreed that the content of the sixth recommendation was satisfactory.


On recommendation seven, to suggest that the customer focus theme be renamed, Cllr H Blathwayt suggested that the term customer could be patronising to individuals receiving fines or rejected applications. Cllr L Shires stated that customer focus suggested a quality of service that the Council should aspire to. It was agreed that the recommendation would remain open for Cabinet’s consideration.


Cllr N Lloyd (PH for Environment) referred to the eighth recommendation, and stated that several suggestions had been made to place greater emphasis on coastal issues within the environment theme. He informed Members that he would look to amend the theme title to reflect this.


Members agreed that the ninth recommendations should remain unchanged.


On recommendation ten, Cllr V Gay stated that whilst the Corporate Plan was still in its early stages, success descriptors had been considered and would likely be included in the final version of the Corporate Plan.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


The Cabinet Work Programme pdf icon PDF 293 KB

To note the upcoming Cabinet Work Programme.


The DSM informed Members that the previously discussed Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy would go to December Cabinet to be considered for final approval, once the public consultation had closed.


The DS&GOS informed Members that the Digital Transformation Update was expected to slip, and would subsequently not be on the November Scrutiny agenda.




To note the Cabinet Work Programme.


Overview & Scrutiny Work Programme and Update pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To receive an update from the Scrutiny Officer on progress made with topics on its agreed work programme, training updates and to receive any further information which Members may have requested at a previous meeting.

Additional documents:


The DS&GOS provided an update on the Committee’s Work Programme, and reminded Members that the waste contract and crime & disorder briefing on rural policing were expected at the next meeting. Members were informed that the waste contract was now in its final stages, which meant that further amendments could not  be made. Members were reassured that the Committee had been given ample opportunity to comment on the contract options during its development.


The DS&GOS encouraged Members to submit questions in advance of the next meeting once the agenda had been published, for more detailed responses to be given at the meeting, and to make better use of the available time.




To note the Overview & Scrutiny Work Programme.


Exclusion of the Press and Public

To pass the following resolution, if necessary:


“That under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph _ of Part I of Schedule 12A (as amended) to the Act.”


To Consider Any Exempt Matters Arising From Consideration of the Public Business of the Agenda