To receive reports from Cabinet Members on their portfolios.
Members are reminded that they may ask questions of the Cabinet Member on their reports and portfolio areas but should note that it is not a debate.
1. Cllr A Brown – Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housingstated that the affordable homes pitch had been mitigated by sales through victory housing and the right to buy, hence the Council was set to pursue greater delivery of affordable homes through the Corporate Plan. Cllr J Rest asked what percentage of the value of right to buy properties was returned to NNDC from Victory Housing, to which Cllr A Brown replied that he would seek clarification and provide a written response. Cllr J Rest suggested that he understood that the approximate value was £60k per property, but would appreciate clarification of the figure. Cllr A Brown noted that whilst this could be the approximate value, it was important to remember that once sold, the rental revenue was lost. Cllr J Rest noted that £1m had been outlined in the Corporate Plan for affordable homes, and asked whether this could be earmarked for development and not placed in the general fund. Cllr A Brown replied that he would look into whether this would be possible. The Head of Finance and Asset Management stated that the percentage received from sales of right to buy homes varied depending on the size and number of rooms in the property. He added that the receipts for these sales were capital, which meant they could be used for any project.
2. Cllr S Butikofer – Portfolio Holder for Corporate Services informed Members that two schools had visited the Council in November, and that there were now plans being developed to create a Youth Council for North Norfolk. It was reported that a voter registration enquiry form had been added to the NNDC website, and Members were encouraged to help people register to vote. Members were informed that new software had been acquired for online consultations, which would be used for public consultations on the budget to help determine residents’ spending priorities.
3. Cllr A Fitch-Tillett – Portfolio Holder for Coastal had given her apologies for the meeting, and Members were informed that a written answer could be given for any questions.
4. Cllr V Gay – Portfolio Holder for Culture and Wellbeing stated that the key projects were outlined clearly in her report, and that work continued on the sports development strategy and community grants. It was reported that the Chairman of O&S had requested that the Portfolio Holder provide answers to a number of questions raised at the Committee regarding the Splash project. As a result, Cllr V Gay stated that the Splash project contingency consisted of two elements, the first being the construction contingency of £200k, and the second, a client contingency of £79k. She added that to date, £59k of the construction contingency had been spent. In response to concerns raised regarding an unexpected concrete slab and gas main, it was reported that the gas main had been relocated at no additional cost, and that the slab had been removed with the costs covered by the contingency. Neither issue was reported to have caused any significant delay to the project schedule. Cllr D Baker asked how the additional £2m approved for the project sat within the contingency, to which Cllr V Gay replied that the contingency was part of the original budget.
5. Cllr G Hayman – Portfolio Holder for Commercialisation and Assets informed Members that there had been significant progress made on the EV charging points due to be installed across the district, with tenders soon to be issued and completion of the project expected in March. It was reported that there would be a pause to works on the Pier, but at no cost to the Council, and that the work would reconvene in the Spring. Cllr V FitzPatrick stated that he had requested a written answer regarding EV Charging points at Stearmans Yard. Cllr G Hayman replied that he had approved the response and would ensure that this was sent as soon as possible. He then apologized for the delay and asked Cllr V FitzPatrick to notify him once he had received the response.
6. Cllr R Kershaw – Portfolio Holder for Economic and Career Development stated that apprenticeships in manufacturing continued to improve across the district. On tourism, it was reported that at a recent meeting with Visit North Norfolk, he had been informed that their latest promotional video for the district had approximately 2.6 million views. On grant funding, it was confirmed that the third and final round of MTI applications had been awarded, and that the first grant submission for the North Walsham High Street Heritage Action Zone was on track to be ready for December.
7. Cllr N Lloyd – Portfolio Holder for Environment informed Members that officers had been drawing up plans to take advantage of National Tree Week and launch the official start of the Council’s pledge to plant a tree for every person in North Norfolk. The Chairman added that he was working with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust to arrange tree planting and nature awareness events at schools across the district. It was stated that there would be ten events in total, and three had already been arranged. Cllr D Baker asked whether the tree planting programme aimed to plant all trees within the district, or whether some would be planted at other locations across the UK. Cllr N Lloyd replied that it was the intention of the administration to plant all 110k trees within North Norfolk, and that he and officers had been reaching out to various landowners and organisations to make this happen. It was reported that there were plans to plant 10k trees over the winter period on Council owned land, and the GIS Team were working on a mapping tool that would allow the Council to monitor where trees had been planted. Cllr C Cushing asked whether the opportunity to help with tree planting had been advertised anywhere by the Council, to which Cllr N Lloyd replied that advertising and promotion of the project would begin in line with National Tree Week. He added that it was also important for the Council to consider a maintenance plan alongside its planting efforts, as the tree would have to be nurtured over the first few years.
8. Cllr E Seward – Portfolio Holder for Finance, Revenues and Benefits updated Members on Central Government’s Redmond Review on the quality of financial reporting and external audit of local authorities. It was stated that in preparing the Council’s response, he had worked with the Chairman of the GRAC, and it was hoped that local authorities would get better guidance and legislation on commercialisation and asset programmes. It was suggested that new guidance could call for more effective intervention from Scrutiny Committees, similar to how O&S was now receiving monthly updates on the Splash project. Cllr J Rest referred to the 2020/21 budget, and asked whether not having the Council’s annual accounts signed off by the external auditor would cause any issues. Cllr E Seward replied that he did not expect much impact from the issue, but wouldn’t know for certain until January when the financial settlement would be agreed, and until that point the Finance Team could only rely on modeling. He added that all Members had a right to be involved in the budget setting process, and arrangements would be made to facilitate this.