Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 14th July, 2021 9.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices. View directions

Contact: Matthew Stembrowicz  Email:

No. Item


To Receive Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Cllr P Heinrich, Cllr N Housden, Cllr A Varley and Cllr E Spagnola.




Cllr P Bütikofer substituted for Cllr P Heinrich.


Public Questions & Statements

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


None received.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 345 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 16th June 2021.


Minutes of the meeting held on 16th June 2021 were agreed 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 pdf icon PDF 233 KB

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 held on 5th July 2021, Cabinet accepted the following recommendation:


‘To recommend to Cabinet that consideration is given to the resourcing of the Planning Enforcement Team to strengthen and support the Council’s planning enforcement process.



The DSGOS noted that at the meeting held on 5th July 2021, Cabinet accepted the recommendation to give consideration to the resourcing of the Planning Enforcement Team, in order to strengthen and support the Council’s planning enforcement process. He added that the issue remained under active consideration, and any decision on whether additional resource was required remained outstanding. It was noted that the Planning Portfolio Holder had also requested that a briefing be arranged on the Enforcement process, with details to be shared in due course.


Sheringham Leisure Centre Project Update: July 2021 pdf icon PDF 403 KB

To receive and note the update.

Additional documents:


Cllr V Gay – Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Wellbeing and Culture introduced the report and informed Members that the completion date had been delayed until September, as a result of delays in the materials supply chain. She added that the new completion date given was considered a realistic estimate. It was stated that as this would likely be the last update prior to project completion, additional budget information had been included for consideration. Cllr V Gay added that to her knowledge, the project had not yet required borrowing, as adequate cashflow had been maintained.


Questions and Discussion


       i.          Cllr S Penfold stated that he assumed the opening date would follow the completion date, and asked whether the opening would still take place in September or a later date. Cllr V Gay replied that a scheduled opening date was yet to be agreed, but it would follow the completion date once initial testing was completed. It was expected that the opening date might be in October, and Cllr S Penfold suggested that it would be helpful to know the specific date as soon as possible.


      ii.          It was confirmed, following a question from Cllr H Blathwayt, that the new facility would have a soft opening prior to its formal opening to the public.


     iii.          Cllr S Penfold suggested that it would be beneficial for Members to visit the facility once complete. Cllr V Gay agreed and stated that whilst smaller visits had taken place, Covid-19 restrictions had limited the number of visitors allowed on site, and suggested that she would seek to arrange a visit for all Members as soon as possible.


    iv.          Cllr J Rest suggested that the delays caused by materials shortages highlighted the need for greater consideration to be given to using local materials when undertaking projects of scale in the future. Cllr V Gay noted that the project had shown the number of materials that had to be imported, and agreed that it should be given consideration in the future.


      v.          Cllr V Holliday asked whether the current budget position was as expected, to which Cllr V Gay confirmed that this was the case, as it had remained unchanged for considerable time following an adjustment in summer 2019.


    vi.          The Chairman suggested that once the facility was open, it would be helpful for the Committee to receive a project review, to consider the process of development, the lessons learned and a review of the operating procedure. Cllr V Gay agreed that this would be a helpful exercise that she would be happy to facilitate.




To receive and note the update.



To receive and note the update.


Cllr R Kershaw – Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Growth introduced the report and informed Members that the HSHAZ project was a holistic programme of interrelated projects that aimed to improve the vitality and viability of North Walsham town centre. He added that the project was an opportunity for significant investment in the town to support residents and visitors, which would therefore require their agreement and support. It was reported that the project included a placemaking scheme, renovation of the Cedars, building improvement grants, a cultural programme, and a communication and engagement programme. Cllr R Kershaw informed Members that project governance had changed from a Working Party to Project Team, which met weekly to oversee the project alongside a project board, chaired by the ADSG.


Questions and Discussion


       i.          The HAZPM and EGM provided an overview presentation of the project and noted that funding had come primarily from Historic England, in conjunction with match-funding from NNDC, followed by additional funding from the LEP and Historic England, to a total of £3.2m. The HAZPM informed Members that the project would focus predominantly on the town centre, in areas such as the Market Place, the area surrounding St Nicholas’ Church, and the surrounding streets and lokes. An overview of the five key programmes was provided and it was noted that the placemaking scheme had reached the detailed design stage, utilising input from a range of stakeholders. It was noted that considerable consultation and engagement had taken place with local exhibitions in the town and at local schools.


      ii.          The HAZPM informed Members that essential maintenance work on the Cedars had already begun, alongside a full conditions survey to ascertain the works required. She added that a detailed schedule of work and specification had been prepared that would be procured in the autumn, with renovations to begin soon after. It was noted that the building had already been marketed by the Estates Team to seek potential interest.


     iii.          The Historic Buildings Improvements Grant Scheme was outlined as a means for private landlords to apply to improve existing historic buildings, with 103 listed buildings in the town, it was hoped the scheme would help to return these buildings to their former glory. It was noted that the scheme was set to launch in approximately two weeks’ time to cover repairs and renovation, with the expectation that it could bring neglected spaces back into use.


    iv.          The HAZPM referred to the heritage research and training that would be undertaken as part of the project by Historic England, and noted that very little heritage research had been completed previously. It was reported that most of this research would be funded separately by Historic England, though the findings would be shared with officers to better inform the project. Alongside this work, it was noted that the Cultural Programme would be led by an independent consortium with £90k funding available over three years.


      v.          The HAZPM informed Members that a Stakeholder Group had been established that met  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Ambulance Response Times: Coastal Parish Working Party Update pdf icon PDF 531 KB

To receive and note the update.


Cllr V Holliday introduced the report as Chair of the Coastal Parish Working Group, and informed Members that monitoring at Parish level had begun when the BBC reported that the area had the worst ambulance response times in the Country at 23 minutes for urgent calls and over three hours for non-urgent calls. It was stated that the complex issue was the result of a number of factors ranging from rurality to turn around times. Cllr V Holliday stated that the Group were now trying to work with the CCG to improve response times by addressing a range of issue and offering potential solutions. It was noted that Covid-19 had impacted progress, and evidence at the postcode level continued to show that response times in rural areas were far worse than urban areas. It was suggested that aiding the recruitment and training of Community First Responders (CFR), as well as retaining rapid response vehicles should be a priority. Cllr V Holliday noted that a stroke support ambulance had been trialed, and whilst expensive, suggested it could be considered for charitable support, taking into account that North Norfolk had the highest incidence of strokes in the Country.


Questions and Discussion


       i.          The Chairman noted that the report showed there had been very little improvement, with targets still being missed. He sought clarification on whether the rapid response vehicles would be used by CFR or paramedics, to which Cllr V Holliday confirmed that they were used by highly trained paramedics. It was noted that these paramedics would be employed directly by EEAST, as opposed to local surgeries.


      ii.          Cllr P Fisher stated that as the Member for Wells, he was acutely aware that beyond its remoteness, the significant amount of summer traffic and parked cars seriously hindered emergency services access. He added that for this reason, there were a number of wider issues that had to be resolved for response times to improve. Cllr V Holliday stated that she would raise these issues with the Working Group at the next meeting. It was noted that population growth was also a significant concern during the peak summer season.


     iii.          The Chairman noted his support for the CFR, and stated that interventions within the first hour were crucial. Cllr C Cushing asked whether a map of CFR coverage of the District was available for consideration. Cllr V Holliday stated that she would seek this information from EEAST to share with the Committee. Cllr V Gay stated that she had also requested this information and hoped to have it soon.


    iv.          The Chairman asked whether the Committee were supportive of a further update being provided in twelve months. Cllr L Withington stated that she had concerns that the rapid response vehicle funding was due to finish in the months ahead, and suggested that support should be offered to retain the vehicles.


      v.          Cllr N Pearce stated that a six-monthly review could be useful to take into account both summer and winter demand. Cllr V Holliday  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.


New Housing Strategy: 2021 - 2025 pdf icon PDF 227 KB


This report sets out:

-        The works so far undertaken to develop the new Housing Strategy for 2021 to 2025, including considerable consultation with members and other stakeholders. 

-        A new Housing Strategy and Housing Strategy Action Plan 2021-25 for Cabinet’s views.

Options considered:

The New Housing Strategy is a Corporate Objective - there are no alternative options possible.



The Housing Strategy will ensure the Council delivers the housing objectives in the Corporate Plan.



To recommend that Full Council approves the Housing Strategy and Action Plan 2021-25.

Reasons for  Recommendations:


To deliver a new Housing Strategy and the other Housing related objectives in the Corporate Plan.







Cabinet Member(s):

Cllr. Wendy Fredericks


Ward(s) affected:


Contact Officers:


Nicky Debbage, Housing Strategy & Delivery Manager, Tel: 01263 516027, email


Graham Connolly, Housing Strategy & Delivery Manager, Tel: 01263 516282, email


Additional documents:


Cllr W Fredericks – Portfolio Holder for Housing and Benefits introduced the report and informed Members that housing was a top priority for the Council. She added that the new Strategy would build on existing work to improve housing conditions and provide more housing throughout the District. It was noted that current achievements included the purchase of fourteen homes for use as temporary accommodation, the delivery of the first extra care scheme in Fakenham, and the delivery of new affordable homes above annual targets. Cllr W Fredericks stated that the Strategy had four key themes of increasing the supply of housing, improving housing conditions, making best use of existing homes, and supporting vulnerable residents’ housing needs.


Questions and Discussion


       i.          The Chairman asked what had changed from previous strategies to address the supply of affordable housing in the District. The HSDM-ND replied that whilst there was no easy solution, there were a range of actions that could help. She added that whilst the targets for affordable homes were close to being met, with future targets predicted to be surpassed, the key issue was the high number of property disposals by housing associations. It was suggested that working with housing associations to address the number of disposals would be crucial to retain as much social housing as possible, in addition to ensuring supply through new development proposals. The Chairman said that despite these actions, net deficits of affordable housing remained a concern. Cllr W Fredericks stated that despite the issue of disposals, she was confident that the Council would meet its affordable housing targets.


      ii.          Cllr N Pearce stated that he felt the strategy was high risk, as many residents did not want affordable housing built in their communities. Cllr W Fredericks replied that Town and Parish Councils had been involved in the development of the Strategy, and suggested that most residents accepted that more affordable housing was needed for young people to purchase their own homes. She added that there was also a Community Liaison Officer within the Housing Team that worked with communities to address concerns and mitigate objections to affordable housing developments. The Chairman noted his appreciation of this role, given the entrenched resistance seen amongst communities.


     iii.          Cllr C Cushing referred to the affordable homes targets and suggested that these should take into account the disposals or loss of affordable homes, as well as those delivered. He then referred to the overall Strategy, and stated that vague explanations did not provide clear guidance on how targets would be achieved. Cllr W Fredericks replied that each potential disposal was given thorough consideration to determine viability, and in some cases disposals were unavoidable. She added that the Strategy would continue to develop in order to address issues and meet targets.


    iv.          Cllr S Penfold stated that whilst the Council was exceeding its targets for developing affordable homes, more needed to be done to avoid the loss of social housing via disposals.


      v.          Cllr V Holliday referred to the term  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


Pre-Scrutiny: Customer Services Strategy pdf icon PDF 428 KB

To review and comment on the draft Customer Services Strategy.   


The ADOR introduced the report and informed Members that Draft Customer Services Strategy was a revision of the previous document, as it was a primary aim of the Corporate Plan to realign its focus on the customer experience when accessing Council services. It was noted that the Strategy was still awaiting an equality impact assessment, which was being undertaken externally and expected in the coming weeks.


Questions and Discussion


       i.          The Chairman noted that the Committee had reviewed Customer Service performance and identified several concerns, then asked to what extent these learning points had been addressed within the Strategy, and whether any examples were available. The ADOR replied that the Strategy would clearly define the level of service that could be expected from each point of contact provided at the Council. He added that better statistical information would also be provided to allow comparison between the level of service provided and the level promised within the Strategy and Customer Charter. The Chairman asked whether officers were confident that customers would understand the service standards set out within the Strategy, to which the ADOR stated that the Council would endeavor to make this information as easily available and simple as possible. It was noted that the complaints policy and process would also be revised to be as clear and transparent as possible, so that customers could understand how issues would be resolved.


      ii.          Cllr C Cushing suggested that it would be helpful for key metrics to be included within the body of the Strategy rather than the appendix. He asked whether any comparison had been made with the digital access offerings of other Council’s, to which the ADOR replied that whilst authorities measured their services differently, comparisons had been made with neighbouring authorities where possible. It was noted that unlike some authorities NNDC had not removed telephone access, which some Councils had replaced entirely by digital access channels.


     iii.          Cllr L Withington noted that as a result of Covid-19, many services had been adapted to allow more digital access which had been helpful for many, and asked whether more emphasis could be placed on digital access within the Strategy. The ADOR replied that subsequent action plans would include steps to further improve digital access to services. He added that with the reduction in Covid-19 restrictions, access messages had changed to allow customers more access to face to face services, though digital access would continue to be promoted where possible.


    iv.          Cllr V Holliday commended the language used in the Strategy and asked what audience the information was intended for. The ADOR replied that officers were seeking to make guidance as easy to read and understand as possible, to ensure access for all. Cllr V Holliday asked whether web content would continue to be improved, and it was suggested that each service area would soon be given the ability to manage its own content, to improve and update information where necessary. It was reported that at present, NNDC was rated 27th  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.


The Cabinet Work Programme pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To note the upcoming Cabinet Work Programme.


       i.          The DSGOS informed Members that financial reports expected in July would go to the September meeting, as well as the Customer Services Strategy just reviewed by the Committee. He added that there was an additional Cabinet meeting planned to take place on 19th July, as a result of a property transaction.


      ii.          The DSGOS reported that the Cabinet Working Party that would run parallel to the Scrutiny Panels was likely to have its first meeting in September, after which the Scrutiny Panels could review reports.




To note the Cabinet Work Programme.




Overview & Scrutiny Work Programme and Update pdf icon PDF 281 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:


       i.          The DSGOS informed Members that as with the Cabinet Work Programme, several routine financial reports were expected at the September meeting. He added that as per the Committee’s request, the Beach Huts and Chalets monitoring had been delayed until October to allow for full summer occupancy levels to be included within the report.


      ii.          In reference to the outcomes and actions from the previous meeting, it was noted that a response was yet to be received from CLT, but would be shared when available.


     iii.          The Chairman informed Members that to follow-up informal actions, he had requested the creation of an actions log, that would outline the status of agreed actions by relevant officers.




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.”