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.
No member may ask more than one question plus a supplementary question, unless the time taken by members’ questions does not exceed 30 minutes in total, in which case, second questions will be taken in the order that they are received (Constitution, Chapter 2, part 2, section 12.2)
Cllr A Fitch-Tillett – Coast
Cllr V Gay – Health, Wellbeing & Culture
Cllr G Hayman – Housing & Benefits
Cllr R Kershaw – Economic Development
Cllr N Lloyd – Environment & Climate Change
Cllr E Seward – Finance & Assets
Cllr L Shires – Organisational Resources
Cllr J Toye – Planning & Enforcement
The Chairman invited Portfolio Holders to present their reports:
Cllr A Fitch-Tillett, Portfolio Holder for Coast said that she was delighted to inform members that the Bacton to Walcott Sandscaping scheme had recently been awarded the Norfolk Construction Excellence Award. She said that Coastal Partnership East’s £8m bid for a 6 year programme to deliver an adaptation scheme on the Norfolk / Suffolk coast had been successful. She concluded by saying that the CPE team was preparing a response to the consultation on the FloodRe scheme, which was exploring the possibility of widening the current scheme to include protection from wider forms of risk such coastal erosion, which was currently uninsurable.
Cllr C Cushing began by congratulating the team on their award. He referred to a report in the North Norfolk News on 16th April which detailed sand erosion on Bacton beach. He sought reassurance that the issue was being addressed and asked how it would be monitored. Cllr Fitch-Tillett replied that sand was constantly moving and changing. The coastal team was aware of certain objects rising to the surface and being exposed and the situation was being monitored by the coastal engineers. Any hazards that were found were marked as such. Advice to the public on beach safety would be issued in advance of the summer season.
Cllr V Gay, Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, presented her report. She informed members that the new ‘Reef’ leisure centre in Sheringham was on course for a summer opening. She said that an announcement was expected imminently regarding the Council’s blue and green flags. From Saturday 1st May, four beaches would have a lifeguard in attendance.
Cllr Gay highlighted the continuing success of the North Norfolk Sustainable Communities Fund which had allocated £106k to 22 organisations between March 2020 and March 2021. She concluded by saying that the social prescribing briefing for members had now taken place. It was well attended and feedback had been excellent.
Cllr W Fredericks thanked Cllr Gay for the social prescribing briefing which had been very informative.
Cllr G Hayman, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Benefits presented his report as written. He drew members attention the to Domestic Abuse bill which was shortly to be enacted. He said that the Council was working closely with the County Council to deliver the services required to support the victims of domestic abuse.
Cllr R Kershaw, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development introduced his report and provided an update grant payments. In the last year the Council had distributed £118.5m to businesses. He thanked the team for their exceptional performance. He informed members that consultants had been appointed for the North Walsham Heritage Action Zone project, with work about to commence on the lokes. The newly formed Cultural Committee had recently met.
Cllr G Mancini-Boyle asked whether the Portfolio Holder would like to thank central government for the funding received from Government to pay in grants to businesses. Cllr Kershaw agreed.
Cllr N Lloyd, Portfolio Holder for Environment, introduced his report. He said that the Environmental Charter would be going to Cabinet on 10th May for approval. He then referred to the Environment Forum which had taken place virtually, with 50 delegates in attendance. Cllr S Penfold said that he had attended the forum and it had been very engaging and thought-provoking. He thanked everyone involved.
Cllr J Toye agreed, adding that the Chairman of the Purbeck Trust had commented how good it had been.
Cllr N Dixon referred to the noise abatement notice on page 62. He said that as local member for Hoveton, this was the first he had heard of it. He asked whether this reflected the local member protocol which covered communication relating to such issues. Cllr Lloyd apologised and said that he would follow this up with the relevant officers. Local members should be informed of any issues relating to their ward.
Cllr E Seward, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Assets presented his report as written.
Cllr L Shire, Portfolio Holder for Organisational Resources, introduced her report. She thanked the Customer Services team for the assistance that they had provided to the NHS by contacting patients and booking appointments for vaccinations.
Cllr V FitzPatrick referred to page 69 and the rollout of the NNDC App. He asked if it was purely transactional or information-based. He asked what the anticipated uptake was likely to be, the initial outlay and the ongoing running costs. He concluded by asking if there was a financial benefit to the Council and whether a business case had been presented to the Portfolio Holder. Cllr Shires said that she did not have the information to answer the questions but she would provide a written response.
Cllr N Housden referred to Customer Services and availability via telephone. Several of his constituents had contacted him to say that they could not get through, occasionally waiting 20 minutes for a response. Cllr Shires asked if any specific departments were involved. Cllr Housden said it was regarding the Planning and Licensing service areas. He agreed to provide Cllr Shires with more information so she could look into it.
Cllr J Stenton asked why the Council continued to use paper pay slips instead of digital ones. It wasn’t environmentally friendly. Cllr Shires agreed, saying that she would look into it.
Cllr D Birch referred to the issue of accessibility and the Council’s website. He welcomed that it had improved and asked Cllr Shires what steps would be taken to build on this. Cllr Shires replied that this was ongoing issue. The layout of the site would be assessed and the facility to enlarge text easily, with good colour contrast. Keyboard navigation was also a factor. NNDC was in the top 30 accessible councils.
Cllr J Toye, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Enforcement, presented his report. He said that there had been a huge increase in planning applications. Despite this, the Planning Team were processing them quickly and he thanked them for their hard work.
Cllr T FitzPatrick referred to the section of the report on ‘digital transformation’. He said that two of his parishes had not received notification of planning applications. He asked whether this issue could be looked into as it may be occurring more widely. Cllr Toye agreed, saying that it would be helpful to know if there were any gaps.
The Chairman said that there was sufficient time remaining to take any outstanding questions.
Cllr G Mancini-Boyle referred to the Environmental Charter. He asked about the targets set and the commitments stated and how they would be measured and reported back to measured and how frequently. Cllr Lloyd referred to the Managing Performance updates to Overview & Scrutiny Committee and asked if there was any further informed that Cllr Mancini-Boyle required. Cllr Mancini-Boyle replied how ambitious the Council was being regarding its environmental targets and what Cllr Lloyd would aspire to achieve. Cllr Lloyd replied that the Council was committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 and there would be a roadmap to achieving this. Regarding recycling, he said that the pandemic had led to significant changes to the waste streams and this made the setting of targets very challenging. That said, he felt there was room for improvement. He would like to see food waste collection but the costs at the moment were prohibitive.
Cllr Toye asked Cllr Shires about car parking season tickets and what the uptake was. Cllr Shires replied that during the last financial year there had been an increase of 620 extra season tickets. There had been a shift in how transactions were undertaken with 67% of purchases now being done digitally.