Agenda Item___4___
Minutes of a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 18 October
2011 in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, Holt Road, Cromer at 9.30 am.
Members Present:
Mr E Seward (Chairman)
Mr R Reynolds
Mr B Smith
Mr N Smith
Mr R Smith
Mr P Terrington
Mrs A Claussen-Reynolds
Mrs A Green
Mr B Jarvis
Mr P Moore
Mr J H Perry-Warnes
Officers in
Members in
The Strategic Director - Community (for Item 63), the Planning Policy and
Property Information Manager (for item 63), the Housing Services Manager
(for item 64) the Technical Officer - Housing Services (for item 64) the
Health Improvement Officer (for item 66) the Environmental Services
Manager (for item 67) and the Democratic Services Team Leader
Mrs A Fitch-Tillett, Mr K Johnson and Mr J Lee
Apologies were received from Mr R Wright
Mr N Smith for Mr R Wright
Mrs J Farrow, of the Upcher Local Area Partnership asked the following questions:
1. Would the Cabinet recommendation to approve the Corporate Plan 2011/12 negate
the subsequent recommendation from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to
defer the Corporate Plan to allow for further consultation? The Democratic Services
Team Leader replied that the recommendations were listed in chronological order on
the Agenda and that both items would be considered together.
2. The Council were undertaking a review of the Local Area Partnerships (LAPs). The
last review by Mark Patchett had focussed on the effectiveness of the LAPs and how
the existing structure could act as a springboard for Localism and the Big Society.
She asked whether the Committee had seen the report and how the Council could
justify spending additional money on another review within such a short period. The
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011
Chairman replied that the Committee had not seen the report and that a full answer
would be provided in writing within seven days.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 20 September 2011 were signed as a correct record.
None received
The Democratic Services Team Leader updated the Committee on petitions from
members of the public. No further petitions had been received via the e-petitions facility
since the last meeting.
None received. A Member commented that it was very unfortunate that Cabinet had not
responded to the Committee’s comments on the corporate plan.
Members had no comments on the Forward Plan.
The report outlined the process of securing contributions towards infrastructure needs in
the district through the development management process. It explained the Community
Infrastructure levy (CIL), the process required for its introduction and how CIL
might benefit local communities. The Planning Policy and Property Information Manager
outlined how CIL had the potential to raise significant additional resources to help fund
the infrastructure needed to deliver the growth proposed in the Council’s adopted
development plans. To date the Council had relied on section 106 agreements to
contribute towards the cost of infrastructure. However, these did not apply to small scale
developments and as the majority of developments were within this category, very little
income was generated.
CIL was a ‘tariff’ that was applied according to the size and category of development. It
would not replace s106 agreements but operate in parallel with them. There were some
exceptions to CIL, including buildings not visited by the public, affordable housing and
charitable organisations. It would cover market housing, retail, educational buildings and
factories. Local authorities could also choose to exempt certain developments. Levy
rates would be set in consultation with local communities and the development industry
and would apply to most new development over 100sqm in size. The tariff would be
applied at the point when planning permission was granted, with the payment usually
being due on commencement of construction.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011
The Planning Policy and Property Information Manager told the Committee that when
the Council had prepared the core strategy, the infrastructure gaps had been outlined
but not costed. If CIL was to be adopted, potential gaps would need to be checked and
costed up. Available sources of funding could then be identified, totalled up and then
used to justify seeking contributions from developers and setting the tariff. He stressed
that it was important that the levy was not set so high that development would cease to
be viable.
Members discussed the report:
a) A Member said that he had initially been opposed to CIL as he thought it was a
development tax. He thanked the Planning Policy and Property Information Manager
for explaining the levy to him and said that he now felt that it could bring
considerable benefits to the district. He added that he was concerned however with
the recommendation to ‘introduce’ CIL. He felt that further work was needed before
the Committee could agree to its introduction. The Planning Policy and Property
Information Manager suggested that ‘investigates’ was inserted into the
recommendation instead of ‘introduce’. In response to a further question from the
same Member regarding whether CIL would apply to existing planning permissions,
he replied that it would only apply to planning applications made from the date of
b) It was suggested that there could be a case for treating brownfield sites and towns
with existing infrastructure in place, differently – possibly with a zero or low tariff.
The Planning Policy and Property Information Manager said that different charging
zones would be introduced and it was possible to vary the tariff within these zones
allowing some flexibility.
c) A concern was raised regarding the amount of CIL that would be diverted to the
County Council. The Planning Policy and Property Information Manager said that the
District Council would be both the charging authority and the collecting authority and
it would be at their discretion how much CIL income was diverted to the County
Council. In addition, the Council would have control over how the income was spent.
The Strategic Director – Community added that if CIL was introduced by the Council,
they would be in a strong position in terms of commissioning local infrastructure. The
Council could opt to give parish and town councils funds to spend on play areas and
community centres.
d) A Member pointed out that the report referred to the District Council being the
charging authority ‘in most cases’. She asked for further clarification on this. The
Planning Policy and Property Information Manager said that the Council could also
allow the County Council to act as a charging authority on their behalf but it must be
agreed with them first.
e) A concern was raised regarding the exemption of buildings not open to the public. A
Member felt that large scale projects such as wind farms and quarries required
infrastructure and should be subject to CIL. The Planning Policy and Property
Information Manager said that it was not possible to charge a levy on such projects
as it was payable per square metre. However, payments could still be negotiated
under a section 106 agreement.
f) A Member asked how s106 agreements would fit into the proposed charging zones.
The Planning Policy and Property Information Manager replied that the Council
would need to decide which type of development would stay within the s106 process
and which would fall within the confines of CIL and how both categories would apply
within the charging zones. He emphasised that it was not possible to double-charge
for the same development. The Strategic Director – Communities added that there
was concern over this issue as CIL would be given priority over any other charge.
This could have implications for affordable housing and might mitigate against the
negotiation of affordable housing provision within market developments. As a result
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011
of such concerns, the government was considering how to cover affordable housing
within CIL.
To recommend to Cabinet that the Council investigates CIL and that the Planning Policy
and Built Heritage Working Party progresses the detailed work in relation to
infrastructure planning, viability testing, and preparation of a Draft Charging Schedule.
The report updated the Committee on the Housing Services Team’s work on addressing
fuel poverty across the District. The Stay Warm and Cosy initiative was launched in
March 2011 and to date 135 households had been visited and a survey of their
properties completed. Bespoke advice had been given to these households on how they
could improve the energy efficiency of their home. The Strategic Housing Manager
stressed that this was an enabling initiative and no funding was attached. The Housing
Services Team offered their expertise to residents and provided advice on how to
access funding. Although the response rate to the scheme had been low initially, 61
surveys had been carried out during September and there was an increasing number of
referrals from people who had taken part. The Committee were provided with case
studies giving examples of individual properties.
Members discussed the report:
1. There was a concern that funding for the project may not continue long-term. The
Housing Services Manager reiterated that there were no additional cost implications
for the service just the expertise and time of the Housing Services Team.
2. A Member commented that the average Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP)
rating of 59 was quite high. He sought clarification on the source of that figure and
whether it was likely to go down as older properties deteriorated. The Housing
Services Manager replied that the SAP figure was based on the Council’s 2007
Stock Condition Survey. She acknowledged that it could potentially go down as
properties deteriorated but the hope was that residents installing energy efficient
devices and insulation in their homes would balance that out in the long term. The
Strategic Director – Communities added that the Stay Warm and Cosy initiative
focussed on older properties. Future housing stock would be energy efficient.
3. Current Government advice was to switch energy providers to ensure the best deal.
A Member asked whether the Housing Services Team included this when they
advised residents on energy efficiency. The Technical Officer (Housing Services)
said that they provided residents with a step by step guide on how to switch energy
provider and they would help anyone who found the process difficult. The Housing
Services Manager added that they also encouraged people to contact their energy
supplier and query the tariff that they were on and, if applicable, register as a
vulnerable person.
4. A Member commented that she was concerned that Housing Associations were not
doing enough about damp problems in their housing stock. The Housing Services
Manager said that damp problems were more of a concern in the private rental
sector. From 2013 properties could not be let if they had a SAP rating below 35. She
added that the Housing Services team had a responsibility to deal with any
complaints from householders and a legal obligation to deal with Category 1
hazards. She acknowledged that there were some issues regarding damp within the
district but that all the Housing Association stock in North Norfolk complied with the
Decent Homes standard.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011
5. The Chairman asked how many of the 135 surveys carried out by the Housing
Services Team had an SAP rating of 35 or below. The Housing Services Manager
said she would find out and provide an answer in writing. A Member requested that
the information should be published in the Member’s Bulletin.
a) to support the continuation of the Stay Warm and Cosy initiative
b) to receive an update via the Member’s Bulletin on the number of homes partaking in
the Stay Warm and Cosy initiative with an SAP of 35 or less
1. In response to a request from a Member, the Democratic Services Team Leader had
provided the Committee with a draft version of the minutes from the Special meeting
of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 4th October. A copy of the initial
comments from the meeting had also been circulated.
2. A report on Community Safety would be presented to the November meeting of the
3. The Financial Plan Update 2011/12 – 2014/15 was no longer going to Committee.
The Democratic Services Team Leader sought the views of Committee Members on
how they wished to proceed now. The Chairman suggested that the document
should be considered at the November meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny
Committee as originally agreed.
4. A Member asked whether Cabinet would provide a response to the Committee’s
comments on the corporate plan at the Full Council meeting. The Deputy Leader
said that there would be a full debate on the matter at that meeting.
To consider the Financial Plan Update 2011/12 – 2014/15 at the November meeting of
the Overview and Scrutiny committee
The Health Improvement Officer provided an update on the Council’s Health Strategy:
1. The proposed changes to the public health system and the new legislative
responsibilities that were being placed on upper and unitary local authorities were
outlined. It was envisaged that district council services relating to health, such as
housing, leisure, planning and economic development, would be key to developing
holistic solutions to health and wellbeing. Public health responsibilities would
transfer fully to local authorities from April 2013. Clarity was still required regarding
the input of district councils into the new County Health and Wellbeing boards.
2. The North Norfolk Health Consortium had recently changed its name to the North
Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (NNCCG). The group included 20 local GP
practices covering the whole of the district and some in Broadland.
3. The North Norfolk Health Improvement Forum had held its second meeting in
September 2011 and agreed that the three main project areas for the first year
would be information on services, enabling community groups and activity referral.
4. The new Health Trainer service comprising 7 NHS staff would be based at NNDC
from October 2011. It was hoped that their presence at the Council offices would
lead to an increase in partnership working and cross-referral to NNDC leisure,
activity and wellbeing services.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011
5. The Council had successfully applied to take part in the Ageing Well Programme, an
externally funded programme run by the Young Foundation.
6. The Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment (MWIA) programme was focussing on the
impact of the Sheringham Little Theatre’s programme on mental wellbeing.
7. The mobile gym service had supported another bid for lottery funding to establish a
community gym in Aylsham. This was the 4th community gym that the mobile gym
service had helped establish.
Members discussed the update:
a) A Member commented on the impact of mental health and depression on the
districts’ residents. Norfolk had the highest suicide rate in East Anglia and he had
concerns regarding how people affected by depression were integrated into the
health system. The Chairman suggested that the Committee received a presentation
on suicide and mental health at a future date.
b) The Chairman said that he had concerns regarding public health responsibilities and
what the Council’s role would be. The Health Improvement Officer said that there
was recognition at County level that district councils should be involved. The Chief
Executive was making representations to the County Council to include NNDC on
the Health and Wellbeing Board. If this was agreed it was likely that there would only
be one representative from NNDC on the board. The Chairman suggested that the
Committee made a recommendation to support the Chief Executive in getting
effective district representation on the Health and Wellbeing Board.
c) A Member asked whether smaller health bodies and organisations were able to get
involved with the North Norfolk Health Improvement Forum. The Health
Improvement Officer replied that only core organisations were represented at the
forum but that under each project area, other partners and organisations would be
brought in to provide supporting information.
d) Clarification was sought on the role of the new Health Trainers. The Health
Improvement Officer said that they were new staff who were being trained to
become health trainers. Many of them had previously worked in the health sector
and once trained they would advise people on lifestyle and health choices. To date,
such schemes had only been based in urban areas. The Chairman suggested that
the Committee should receive a presentation on the work of the Health Trainer team
1. to receive a presentation on suicide and mental health in North Norfolk
2. to support the Chief Executive in getting effective representation as a district on the
Health and Wellbeing Board
3. to receive a presentation by the Health Trainer team in January 2012
The Environmental Services Manager provided an update on the new Waste and
Associated Services contract which commenced in early April 2011. During the busy
summer period, complaints about street cleaning and public toilets had dropped
considerably. Praise had also been received from Wells and Sheringham Town Councils
on the improvement to the street cleansing service. The Environmental Services
Manager said that Kier had been quick to resolve a problem when a complaint was
In October 2011, changes to the bin collection rounds had been introduced. A significant
number of households had been affected – approximately 45000. He acknowledged that
there had been pockets of problems but Kier had tried to resolve them quickly.
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011
Residents had been provided with as much information as possible in advance to
reduce the chance of problems occurring. Despite this, some residents had not received
letters and this had been a failure by the supplier doing the round information on behalf
of Kier. As a result, there had been an increase in contact to Kier and an overspill to the
Council’s Customer Service Team. The Chairman asked for an approximate figure for
the number of calls received in relation the bin round changes. The Environmental
Services Manager said that during the first week of the changes there were about 1000
calls a day, 600 of which were handled by Kier. By the end of the second week, the
number had dropped to about 200 calls a day. He explained that the majority of calls
related to confusion over the initial letter.
The transfer of the customer services element to Kier had taken place in August 2011
and had gone smoothly. Any callers requiring advice or wishing to complain about their
waste collection were referred to Kier now.
At the previous update in July 2011, Members had raised concerns about the bottle
banks. The Environmental Services Manager informed the Committee that a lot of work
had been put into improving this service. A collection schedule was now in place which
meant that the banks were emptied more frequently. There was now additional capacity
to support the service following the changes to the bin rounds and it was intended that
the bottle bank service would be expanded in the next few months. He added that Kier
had put down hard standing where banks currently stood on soft ground and they were
looking at how to improve security to prevent the banks being pushed away.
The Environmental Services Manager concluded by saying that the Council would be
working with the contractor over the next few months to identify areas where savings
could be made with no impact on frontline services.
Members discussed the update:
1. A Member commented that any problems with the doorstep collection service in his
ward had been resolved quickly and he commended the resiting and layout of the
bottle bank area, which was now much more accessible. He pointed out that there
was a problem with pigeon droppings in North Walsham. The Environmental
Services Manager said that the Environmental Protection Team Leader was dealing
with complaints relating to the pigeon-droppings. In the meantime, he would ask Kier
to look at ground level cleansing in the areas most affected by pigeons.
2. The issue of grounds maintenance was raised and whether there had been any
changes in the standard of service. The Environmental Services Manager said that
there had been no complaints relating to this service at all. There had been a
transfer of the existing staff to the new contractor and consequently the previous
high standard of work had continued. He added that it was likely this service area
would be considered for potential savings over the next few months.
3. A Member praised the Environmental Services Manager and his team for dealing
with any concerns promptly. They referred to the waste collection team in Fakenham
who had initially been required to collect their vehicle from Aylsham. This had added
considerable time to their working day but as soon as the Member highlighted the
issue with the Environmental Services Team the problem had been rectified. The
Environmental Services Manager said that initially Kier had decided to base all the
vehicles in Aylsham but quickly realised that it was preferable to go back to using
the Fakenham stands.
4. A Member raised a concern regarding the contact details on the initial letters sent to
residents. He said that when one of his ward members had tried to contact Kier they
had been referred to the Council instead. The Environmental Services Manager said
that only Trade Waste collections remained the responsibility of the Council and that
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011
no complaints from householders should be referred to the NNDC Customer
Services Team. In response to a further question from the same Member regarding
the collection of just one missed bin in a road despite there being several others, he
said that this problem had been discovered quickly and was now rectified.
There was praise for the street cleaning team in Wells. The Town Council were so
impressed that they had enquired whether they could employ a street cleaner during
the winter months. The Environmental Services Manager said that there was a
commitment from Kier to maintain standards throughout the year. The service may
be adjusted to each season and there may be litter picking rather than street
sweeping during winter.
The issue of mixed glass in the bottle banks was raised. A Member said it was not
clear where the brown glass should be placed. The Environmental Services
Manager said that there were plans to have brown glass banks added to these sites
in the next few months. In the meantime brown glass could be added to the green
glass banks.
The Chairman commented on the toilets next to Sheringham station. It seemed that
there were still issues with cleanliness. The Environmental Services Manager said
that this was an historical issue. The water pressure was not high enough to service
all the ladies toilets so one toilet was permanently closed. A Member commented
that it might be possible to use a pump to increase the water flow.
The Chairman said that it would be useful to compare the level of phone calls
following the bin collection round changes to the level of calls after the introduction
of wheeled bins in 2003. The Environmental Services Manager said that he did not
have the figures to hand but he believed that the number of calls generated by the
introduction of wheeled bins was about 5000 a day.
The meeting concluded at 12.25pm
Overview and Scrutiny Committee
18 October 2011