Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 12th August, 2020 9.30 am

Venue: remotely via Zoom. View directions

Contact: Matthew Stembrowicz  Email:

No. Item


To Receive Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Cllr T Adams and Cllr E Spagnola.







Public Questions & Statements

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


None received.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 344 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 22nd July 2020.


Minutes of the meeting held on 22nd July 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following amendment:


On p9 Cllr V Gay stated that there was approximately £200k remaining in the Sheringham Leisure Centre Project’s contingency fund, as opposed to the stated £200k of contingency funds spent.



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.


  i.         The DS&GOS informed Members that a petition had been received against the pedestrianisation of North Walsham Town Centre, however it had not met the threshold for debate due to a significant number of incomplete addresses. It was reported that Cabinet had chosen to respond to the petition, and the CE explained that since social distancing measures had been put in place, there had been regular reviews of the area. As a result, whilst traffic had been excluded from the market place to allow safe queuing, this had now been relaxed following the reopening of non-essential retail establishments to allow traffic and parking. It was noted that ten of fifteen normal parking spaces and two of three blue badge spaces had now been reinstated, although one hours free parking remained in place at the bank loke car park. The CE informed Members that whilst the scheme had been amended as a result of the petition, it was always the intention of the Council to create a Covid-safe pedestrian environment, to balance the needs of customers with local businesses.


 ii.        Cllr V Gay stated that the Council would keep the situation in North Walsham under review, and remain alert to the needs of disabled individuals. She added her thanks to all involved and Cllr E Seward who had worked to resolve the issues as soon as possible.



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 a meeting of Cabinet on 3rd August 2020, the following recommendations were accepted:






To consider undertaking a viability study, including a cost-benefit analysis, to determine the viability of maintaining the existing Splash facility, and its impact on building the new facility. In particular, the study should determine whether a much earlier demolition of the existing Splash would allow a much earlier opening of the new Splash and deliver enhanced project financial viability together with reduced health and safety and repair cost risks arising from the deteriorating current building.






That a blanket extension of six months is offered to the completion deadlines of MTI projects from rounds two and three, to account for the impact and delays caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic.



      i.     The DS&GOS informed Members that Cabinet had accepted the recommendation to undertake a viability study of whether a much earlier demolition of the existing Splash facility would allow for a much earlier opening of the new facility, whilst also delivering enhanced project viability and cost savings.


     ii.     On the MTI recommendations it was noted that Cabinet had accepted the recommendation to offer a blanket six-month extension to projects from rounds two and three of funding to account for the delays and impact of Covid-19.


    iii.     On recommendations from the customer services report, it was noted that Cabinet had accepted the recommendation for an all Member briefing on the digital by design proposals, to take place at an appropriate time, once further discussion with the portfolio holder had taken place. The CE confirmed that the recommendations had been discussed at SLT, and stated that a further briefing on the digital by design proposals which addressed how they would improve customer complaint handling could potentially come to the Committee’s September meeting. On recommendation three, to provide a more detailed report on the nature of complaints, it was stated that it was unlikely that more detail would be available, but this was under review. It was reported that the Council had just received its annual Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report, which was very favorable and would also be brought to the September meeting. Cllr S Butikofer noted that no complaints had been upheld by the ombudsman which was a very positive outcome for the Council, and thanked staff for their efforts.






















Options considered:

This report follows the previous COVID-19 financial update provided to Members in May, at which time a net budget deficit of c£1m was being forecast for the 2020/21 financial year. The anticipated year end deficit is now forecast to have reduced significantly from the previous report to around £0.4m although it should be noted this is still based on a number of assumptions about future funding and income pressures and assumptions regarding further government support which are discussed in more detail within the body of  thereport.


This second report provides a further update and follows the government announcement made on 2 July in respect of additional support towards lost income. It contains high level proposals for revising the 2020/21 budget to ensure that budget monitoring for the remainder of the year is meaningful, whilst also considering the impact on the Council’s medium term financial position.


The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continues to represent a significant challenge for the District Council which will continue to impact on the Council’s resources and budget during 2020-21 and future years.


This report sets out the current high levelforecasts relating to the the latest central government support package. There are a number of options considered based on the recommendations made within the previous report in respect of capital resources, budget re-prioritisation, savings and reserves.



The country continues to face an unprecedented public health crisis which will have impacts on the Council’s expenditure and income during the current financial year and future budgets It will continue to be important to continue to engage with Government, MPs and other stakeholders to campaign for adequate and sustainable funding for the District so that we can continue to deliver vital services to residents, businesses and visitors and this includes the current year and beyond.


The current pandemic demands very different ways of working and will require ongoing review and consideration of current and future priorities as well as different and innovative service delivery models. Looking beyond the immediate impacts, the overall level of uncertainty means the financial environmentremains extremely challenging for the foreseeable future, none  of which is helped by the ongoing delays tothe various local government funding reviews. The assumptions upon which both the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and the 2020/21 budget are based have been significantly undermined by the current crisis.



The current projected budget position (c£0.4m deficit 2020/21) is constantly changing and therefore the high level projections contained within this report must be seen in this context and could be subject to significant change depending on further announcements over the coming months. The report contains high level proposals for revising the 2020/21 budget to ensure that budget monitoring for the remainder of the year is meaningful.


It is recommended that Cabinet note and agree:


1.    The  current  package  of  financial  support  being provided to the Council by the government to support its response to COVID-19 and the continued importance of central government lobbying for further additional financial  ...  view the full agenda text for item 45.

Additional documents:


The HFAM introduced the report and stated that it highlighted the additional costs and income pressures caused by Covid-19. He noted that in May the forecasted deficit had been approximately £1m, though this had now reduced significantly due to further Government funding as a result of continued lobbying efforts. The HFAM reported that Government support had been received in stages, with an initial payment of £50k, followed by £1m in April,  and £185k in July, to a current total of approximately £1.3m. It was recommended that lobbying continued for a fourth tranche of support funding, as a further funding stream had been announced that would aim to address lost income, for which it was estimated the Council could receive up to approximately £1.1m. A funding stream for Council’s with in-house leisure facilities was also in the process of being established, though it was reported that the Council would not be eligible without a change in the criteria, as NNDC’s leisure facilities were run by an external contractor. The HFAM stated that the current forecasted deficit was approximately £400k, as a result of additional funding, with the caveat that increased cost pressures remained. He added that income loss remained the key area of concern at approximately £1.5m, most of which was lost parking revenue, though parking revenue was showing significant signs of improvement. The HFAM stated that a reserve had been identified to meet the budget gap if required, but the situation would be kept under review. He added that business rates were expected to fall by approximately 5% in the year ahead, though a rollover of funding arrangements caused by ongoing delays to funding reviews, meant that the budget deficit forecasted for the 2021/22 financial year could potentially fall from £1.8m to £1.5m.


Questions and Discussion


      i.     Cllr L Shires sought to follow-up a written question on the forecasted 5% reduction in Council tax and business rates collection, and asked how the District’s demographic might affect this, and whether a comparison could be made elsewhere in the country. The HFAM replied that he accepted that differences in demographics could influence the figure, and stated that he would model the variations when preparing the MTFS. Cllr L shires referred to a second question on whether current Cabinet spending plans would continue as planned in light of Covid-19, and requested further clarification. The HFAM replied that discussion would continue on the Council’s spending priorities, but were no current plans to reduce spending on front-line services and the Council had made some savings as a result of the Pandemic. He added that the focus would remain on reducing the deficit without having to use reserves, and that various proposals were being considered, such as zero base budgeting and a fundamental review of the Council’s fees and charges.


     ii.     Cllr G Mancini-Boyle noted that without Central Government support the Council would be in a far worse position. He then asked if there was a short, medium, and long term strategy for resolving the Council’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.


Treasury Management Outurn Report 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 252 KB


This report sets out the Treasury Management activities actually undertaken during 2019/20 compared with the Treasury Management Strategy for the year.


Options Considered:

This report must be prepared to ensure the Council complies with the CIPFA Treasury Management and Prudential Codes.



Treasury activities for the year have been carried out in accordance with the CIPFA Code and the Council’s Treasury Strategy.



That the Council be asked to RESOLVE that The Treasury Management Annual Report and Prudential Indicators for 2019/20 are approved.


Reasons for Recommendation:

Approval by Council demonstrates compliance with the Codes.





Cabinet Member(s): Cllr Eric Seward


Ward(s) affected: All

Contact Officer, telephone number and email: Lucy Hume, 01263 516246,            




The CTA introduced the report and informed Members that the investment interest totalled just over £1.1m, which was positive though slightly under budget. She added that the average interest rate was approximately 3.4%, which was good considering the current global financial climate. It was reported that the effects of Covid-19 on the Council’s investments were beginning to materialise, with approximately £33m of pooled investments reduced to a value of approximately £30m in March, though they risen approximately £1.5m since, but markets remained volatile. The CTA informed Members that this meant that there was an unrealised capital loss on the Council’s investments, which would remain unrealised until the Council sold its investments. She added that it was highly unlikely that the Council would need to sell, and as a result, the risk remained relatively low. It was reported that the dividends from the pooled funds had risen, though this was decreasing as a result of Covid-19. It was noted that the Council remained one of the treasury manager’s top earning clients, which was a positive reflection of the Council’s investment strategy.


Questions and Discussion


  i.         The Chairman thanked the officers for the report and with no questions Cllr W Fredericks proposed to commend the report to Council for approval, and Cllr J Toye seconded the proposal.




To commend the report to Council



Debt Recovery Report 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 210 KB



This is an annual report detailing the council’s collection performance and debt management arrangements for 2019/20


The report includes:


·         A summary of debts written off in each debt area showing the reasons for write-off andvalues.

·         Collection performance for Council Tax and Non- Domestic Rates.

·         Level of arrears outstanding

·         Level of provision for bad and doubtfuldebts





1.    To approve the annual report giving details of theCouncil’s write-offs in accordance with the Council’s Debt Write-Off Policy and performance in relation to revenuescollection.

2.    To agree the Debt Write Off Policy (shown in Appendix2)

3.    To agree the use of High Court Enforcement Agents if considered necessary (shown in Appendix3)



Cabinet member(s): All


Eric Seaward All

Contact Officer, telephone number,

and e-mail:

Sean Knight 01263 516347


Additional documents:


The HFAM introduced the report and informed Members that the Council’s collection rates remained consistently in the upper quartile for both the county and country, which helped income generation and cash flow. The RM added that recovery action had been stopped for council tax and business rates on 18th March, which was prior to Government advice. He added that for the 2019/20 year, council tax collection rates still hit target, though business rates did not. It was noted that the latter was the result of an increase in NDR growth for the Bacton gas site, as the increased collection had not been received until after the 2019/20 accounts deadline. The RM stated that this was still a good news story, as the collectable rates had increased by approximately £1.1m and the rates retention share to NNDC was £577k, whilst Norfolk County was another £247k as it was a pilot year.


Questions and Discussion


  i.         Cllr Shires referred to the Debt Management and Recovery Policy, and asked how residents were supported and what support was available. The RM replied that officers always reviewed each customer’s situation carefully to determine what support could be offered. He added that all efforts were made to resolve issues prior the any collection action, though it was sometimes difficult to differentiate individuals who were not able to pay, from those who refused to pay. It was noted that council tax support was available to residents if needed and the Team always made people aware of the support available. On business rates collection, the RM stated that there was exemptions, reliefs and discounts available but these are out of date and the Government’s decision to review Non-Domestic (Business) Rates is well overdue. It was stated that the first post-lockdown soft reminders for outstanding payments had been sent last week, and some customers had paid after receiving this. The RM informed Members that mental health had become a much larger issue in recent years that the Team took very seriously. He added that the Help Hub was available for referrals, and check-up visits were undertaken by the police when serious concerns were raised.


 ii.        Cllr W Fredericks wished to place on record her thanks to the Revenues and Benefits Team for their efforts.


iii.        Cllr L Shires stated that Mind were offering a certified suicide awareness course for free, and encouraged all Members and officers to sign-up for the training. The RM replied that HR had shared an invite for the training on 11th August, and he had requested that all Team members (excluding apprentices), be encouraged to sign-up on the same date.


iv.        The recommendations were proposed by Cllr L Shires and seconded by Cllr P Heinrich to be taken en bloc.




To note and agree:


1.    To approve the annual report giving details of the Council’s write-offs in accordance with the Council’s Debt Write-Off Policy and performance in relation to revenues collection.


2.    To agree the Debt Write Off Policy (shown in Appendix  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


Officer Delegated Decisions (June to July 2020) pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Text Box: Summary: Options considered: This report details the decisions taken by Senior Officers under delegated powers from 19th June to 24th July 2020. Not applicable. Recommendations: Reasons for Recommendations: To receive and note the report and the register of officer decisions taken under delegated powers. The Constitution: Chapter 6, Part 5, sections 5.1 and 5.2. details the exercise of any power or function of the Council where waiting until a meeting of Council or a committee would disadvantage the Council. The Constitution requires that any exercise of such powers should be reported to the next meeting of Council, Cabinet or working party (as appropriate).






(Papers relied on to write the report, which do not contain exempt information and which are not published elsewhere)


Delegated decision forms – as completed by the relevant officer


Cabinet Member(s) All

Ward(s) affected All

Contact Officer, telephone number and email:

Emma Denny, Democratic Services Manager, 01263 516010


Additional documents:


The CE introduced the report and stated that he was happy to take questions if required.




To note the report.



The Cabinet Work Programme pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To note the upcoming Cabinet Work Programme.


The DS&GOS informed Members that the Outturn report was expected to go to Cabinet in September alongside a further Covid-19 recovery report, and both would come to Scrutiny. He added that a budget monitoring report may also be expected.



Overview & Scrutiny Work Programme and Update pdf icon PDF 105 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 suggested that from September the Committee would need to consider setting a work programme for the rest of the year. He suggested that he would ask Committee Members to submit potential items for the Work Programme via email, which could then be filtered for suitability prior to formally agreeing a Work Programme for the remainder of the municipal year.



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