To receive reports from Cabinet Members on their portfolios. Please note that update reports provided are for the month of January 2022 and with a meeting of Full Council on 9th February, not all Cabinet members will have an update to provide.
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)
Cabinet members (listed alphabetically)
Cllr T Adams (Leader)
Cllr A Fitch-Tillett – Coast
Cllr W Fredericks – Housing & Benefits
Cllr V Gay – Leisure, Culture & Wellbeing
Cllr R Kershaw – Sustainable Growth
Cllr N Lloyd – Environment
Cllr E Seward – Finance, Assets & Legal
Cllr L Shires – Organisational Resources
Cllr J Toye – Planning & Enforcement
The Chairman invited Cabinet members to provide a brief update to their written report if they wished to do so.
Cllr R Kershaw, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Growth, said that over the period of the pandemic there had been several Covid Support Officers who had provided invaluable support across the District, making 10,000 contacts with residents and businesses. Their efforts had ensured that the District had maintained one of the lowest rates of Covid infection in the country. As their roles came to an end, he said he wanted to thank all of them for outstanding service to the community.
The Chairman invited members to put questions to Cabinet members.
Cllr G Hayman said that he would like ask the Leader what he intended to do to address the rat problem in Cromer and other coastal towns. He said it was particularly bad in North Lodge Park in Cromer and on the seafront. Cllr Adams replied that the question related to his role as ward member rather than as Leader. He said that he would discuss the matter with officers and provide a written response. He said that he was aware there had been some complaints but did not accept that it was of wider public concern, adding that it was a common occurrence over the winter period.
Cllr J Rest asked Cllr W Fredericks, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Benefits, for more information about the post of Energy Officer which was referred to in her report. He asked if it was a full or part-time role and whether the Council intended to charge a fee for advice or whether it was a free service. Cllr Fredericks replied that the new Energy Officer would start on 7th March. The improvement works fell within the ‘warm homes grant’ and they would advise them on how save energy and improve efficiency within their homes. She confirmed that it was a full time post and costs were covered by the Warm Homes Grant scheme.
Cllr N Housden asked Cllr Fredericks about ‘test and trace’ support payments – of which 258 had been approved. He asked what the total financial value for these was. Cllr Fredericks said that she would provide a response in writing.
Cllr T FitzPatrick asked Cllr V Gay, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Wellbeing & Leisure, about visitor numbers to the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier. He said that her written report referred to numbers being 64% of pre-Covid attendance figures. He asked for details of the actual numbers and commented that 64% seemed quite a low figure when other non-subsidised, local venues had been sold out over Christmas. Cllr Gay referred Cllr FitzPatrick to the forthcoming Member briefing on this. She said that she had been advised that 64% compared well with other similar venues and the operators, Openwide, were very pleased with the figures. Cllr FitzPatrick asked for the exact attendance figures and whether there was an opportunity to explore making the Pavilion Theatre cost free. Cllr Gay replied that until 2020, Openwide was returning money to the District. The pandemic had impacted considerably but it was hoped that it would return to pre-Covid attendance rates soon.
Cllr N Lloyd asked Cllr Fredericks about the Landowners event on 16th March and what the current take-up rate was. Cllr Fredericks replied that there had been nine expressions of interest from agents to date. She said that it was a pilot scheme and if it was successful it would be rolled out further.
Cllr V FitzPatrick referred to the Housing Support Fund which was mentioned in her written report. He asked how the 10% administration fee worked and whether there was any profit or if it just covered costs. Cllr Gay replied that it was intended to pay for the provision of the service. She explained that it was a special fund that was established to support people and that 10% of the fund was allocated to cover the cost of operating the fund.
Cllr C Cushing asked Cllr N Lloyd, Portfolio Holder for Environment, how confident he was, on a scale of 1 -10, that the remaining 49,100 trees of the tree planting project would be planted by end of April 2023. Cllr Lloyd replied that he was as confident as he could be but there was a lot of competition out there. He said, as it currently stood, there were more than enough trees on the books for planting next season.
Cllr S Penfold asked Cllr Lloyd what would happen to old brown bins that were being replaced. Cllr Lloyd confirmed that they would be recycled and the Council would be paid for this.
Cllr J Stenton asked Cllr L Shires, Portfolio Holder for Organisational Resources, for more information regarding the handling of benefits queries and the outsourcing of this service. Cllr Shires confirmed that they had come back in-house as part of the Councils ‘one front door policy’ and revenues queries would be coming back in-house from June 2022. Cllr Stenton asked what the current cost of outsourcing these enquiries was. Cllr Shires confirmed that Civica currently handled these and the cost was £72k.