CABINET. Members Present: Cabinet:

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1 CABINET Minutes of a meeting of the Cabinet of South Norfolk District Council held at South Norfolk House, Long Stratton on Monday 8 December 2003 at 9.00 am. Members Present: Cabinet: Mr R A P Carden Mr J B Halliday (Chairman) (Vice Chairman) Mrs J Caldwell - for part of the meeting Mrs P M Dore - for part of the meeting Mr T Lewis Mrs J M Mackie Dr J W M Peterson Non-Appointed: Mr B Clark - Taylor Mr C L Gould Mr B H A Spratt Mr K E Weeks Officers in Attendance: The Chief Executive, the Corporate Director (KB), the Head of Corporate Affairs, the Head of Democratic Services, the Head of Financial Services, the Head of Planning Services, the Head of Strategic Housing, the Audit Manager, the Development Control Service Manager, the Direct Services Manager, the Housing Strategy Manager, the Communications Officer and the Scrutiny Officer. 742 MINUTES The minutes of the meeting held 10 November 2003 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

2 743 HOUSING STRATEGY Members considered the report of the Housing Strategy Manager which presented to members the draft Housing Strategy. The Housing Strategy Manager advised members that the comments of the Care Fairness and Housing Policy Development Panel had already been built in to the document, however there were still gaps where further work was required. Members noted that the strategy identified a severe shortage of affordable housing throughout the District over the following two years. From 2006 onwards it was hoped that more housing would become available through Section 106 Agreements with developers. Following consideration of the document, members requested that under the Executive Summary and throughout the document, Issue 1 be reworded to read: To ensure that housing in South Norfolk, in all tenures is of a standard suitable for modern day living, contributes to good health and is energy efficient. It was further requested that under section 6, the comment regarding the Housing Stock capital receipt and its relationship to Council Tax levels be clarified. During discussion, Mr B H A Spratt queried the accuracy of the percentage figures of employment sectors in South Norfolk, particularly the figure of 6% for agriculture. The Housing Strategy Manager confirmed that these figures were official government statistics and were used for comparison purposes only. Following further queries from members, the Housing Strategy Manager explained that if the UP2U2 survey results became available before March 2004, he would be building them in to the strategy. He also confirmed that the District Wide Housing Needs Survey was essential and without it the strategy would not be recognised as fit for purpose. In response to a query from Mr J B Halliday, the Housing Strategy Manager explained that he felt the Council s role with regard to ensuring private dwellings were kept in good repair to be one of persuasion through loans and grants. However he was unsure as to whether or not the Council s powers went beyond this, and he agreed to pass the query on to the Housing Renewal Manager. The Housing Strategy Manager referred members to the Housing Strategy fit for purpose criteria at Appendix 1 of the report, in particular the statement that an explanation should be given of how decisions are taken on the proportion of available resources to be used for housing and how this linked in to the authority s capital strategy The Chairman confirmed that it had always been an intention to allocate a significant amount of resources to affordable housing from the funds received through the LSVT capital receipt. However no firm commitment could be given until the outcome of LSVT was known and until then the Council could only demonstrate the options available. Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 2

3 743 HOUSING STRATEGY (continued) It was then 1. To agree in principle that substantial capital resources are required to fund affordable housing. 2. To approve the draft Housing Strategy subject to minor changes, and to delegate final approval of the Strategy to the Head of Strategic Housing following consultation with the relevant Cabinet Portfolio holder and the Leader of the Council. 744 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE COMMENTS TO CABINET ON AREA PLANNING COMMITTEES (see minute number 745) It was To note the comments of Scrutiny Committee regarding the future of Area Planning Committees. 745 REVIEW OF AREA PLANNING COMMITTEES Members considered the report of the Head of Planning Services, Head of Democratic Services and the Solicitor to the Council which sought guidance from members as to the future arrangements for Area Planning Committees. Members also took in to consideration the views of Scrutiny Committee which were outlined in a separate report to members. Members agreed to the continuation of the three area planning committees and the Chairman suggested that much of the cost savings outlined in the report had then become irrelevant. The Head of Planning Services reminded members that the time lost by officers travelling to and preparing committee venues, although not costed, was quite significant. In response to a query regarding the cost and quality of venues, the Head of Democratic Services confirmed that the selection of venues available to the Council was limited, due to the frequency and variable length of meetings. The Head of Planning Services suggested that to delegate applications even where there were third party objections would match practice in other Local Authorities such as Broadland and could help to reduce the length of meetings. However, members noted that Scrutiny Committee did not support an extension to the scheme of delegation, fearing that the process would become less democratic. 745 REVIEW OF AREA PLANNING COMMITTEES (continued) Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 3

4 After discussion during which members made various suggestions for change, it was concluded that a survey of members and the public through Parish Councils was required before further decisions could be made. It was To: agree to the continuation of the three Area Planning Committees. revisit the issue of venues after a consultation exercise has taken place with District Councillors, and the public through Parish Councils. 746 GREEN GARDEN WASTE COLLECTION POLICY Members considered the report of the Direct Services Manager which detailed proposals of a green garden waste collection service to be piloted in the existing Think Twice recycling collection area. The Direct Services Manager presented his report to members and advised them that members of the Safeguarding the Environment Policy Development Panel had accepted the recommendations of his report. He further explained that no decision had yet been made on where the trial would start, however he was certain that it would not be in the same area where the Think Twice campaign had originally commenced. It was suggested that an area with a wide spread of income levels would be appropriate. The Chairman welcomed the proposals, but was however concerned as to the impact of withdrawing the free ticket system to the elderly and infirm. He stressed the need to explain to householders the reasons for the change and to fully evaluate any impact as part of the trial. The Corporate Director (KB) explained that a 50% discount to all householders on benefit was proposed. The Scrutiny Officer advised members that there had been a lengthy discussion with regard to concessions at the Safeguarding the Environment PDP, and that they had referred the matter to the Care Fairness and Housing PDP to consider fully. Mrs J M Mackie suggested that Recycling Adopter Groups could be a potential source of help for the elderly and infirm and the Direct Services Manager explained that bin share could be an option if requested. With reference to a question from Mr J B Halliday, the Direct Services Manager explained that for the short term, the brown bins were able to take green garden waste only as there were no licensed sites able to take kitchen waste in the near by vicinity. In response to a request from members, the Corporate Director (KB) clarified the financial implications of the scheme stating that the 25,000 estimated costs referred to the District as a whole, and not the trial area alone. 746 GREEN GARDEN WASTE COLLECTION POLICY (continued) Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 4

5 After Mr J B Halliday had stressed the need for financial implications to be more precise in all reports, it was To: agree that a brown wheeled bin, fortnightly green garden waste collection service is piloted in part of the existing Think Twice recycling collection area at a charge of per household. agree that the current ticket system of collection is withdrawn in the pilot area. agree to a 50% discount to those householders on benefit and to assess the impact of withdrawing the free Ticket system on the elderly and infirm householders. investigate the possibility of involving Recycling Adopter Groups in the process. 747 DRAFT CONSULTATION PAPER ON A NEW PLANNING POLICY STATEMENT 7 (PPS7) - SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN RURAL AREAS Members considered the report of the Head of Planning Services which requested members to consider the draft consultation paper on a new planning policy statement 7 (PPS7) - sustainable development in rural areas. The Head of Planning Services presented his report and referred members to the minute from the Planning Committee held 22 October 2003, and the views of officers summarised in Appendix 3 of the report. After members had expressed their views on some areas of the policy, it was That the comments contained in the report, the minutes of the Planning Committee and other officer views are included in the response to the consultation draft to be forwarded to the ODPM. 748 PROPOSED DRAFT CAPITAL PROGRAMME FOR 2004/05 AND BEYOND Members considered the report of the Head Of Financial Services which informed members of the capital bids received for 2004/05 and beyond, and the funding potential. Mr T Lewis felt that the report required some clarification with regard to the implications of LSVT, and asked that the report to Cabinet in February clearly outlined these implications. Members acknowledged the considerable funding gap but did not feel in a position to confirm the borrowing requirements. The Chairman suggested that members considered the priorities of the capital bids further and that consideration be given to the consequences of failing to provide funding for certain projects. 748 PROPOSED DRAFT CAPITAL PROGRAMME FOR 2004/05 AND BEYOND (continued) Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 5

6 It was That further work takes place with regard to the prioritization of capital bids To request that the report to Cabinet in February clearly outlines the implications both if LSVT were, and if LSVT were not to take place. 749 PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT SETTLEMENT 2004/05 Members considered the report of the Head of Financial Services regarding the Provisional Government Settlement 2004/05, and the implications to South Norfolk Council. The Chairman expressed his disappointment at what appeared to be a total reduction in funding of 0.3% for the Council, compared with last year s allocation. Unfortunately this would severely impact on Council Tax levels and members agreed that the Council should protest vigorously to the ODPM with regard to the settlement. The Corporate Director (KB) explained that the subsidy for Housing and Council Tax Benefits was now paid separately from the main settlement and the figure for this was yet to be confirmed. However it was felt unlikely that this would increase the overall total allocation to a figure over that already estimated. After brief discussion it was To note the provisional finance settlement announced by the ODPM That further work takes place with regard to savings and growth items To protest vigorously to the ODPM with regard to the settlement, the detail of the response to be delegated to the Head of Financial Services following consultation with the relevant Cabinet Portfolio holder and the Leader of the Council. 750 REVIEW OF FEES AND CHARGES FOR 2004/05 Members considered the report of the Head of Financial Services which reviewed the Council s discretionary fees and charges for 2004/05. The Chairman, on behalf of Mrs J Caldwell, expressed some concern at the introduction of charges for domestic fridges and freezers (CFC collection). 750 REVIEW OF FEES AND CHARGES FOR 2004/05 (continued) However, the Corporate Director (KB) assured members that the impact on flytipping and safety issues had been carefully considered and for these reasons it was decided that the charge should be for no more than Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 6

7 With reference to car park charges, members agreed that an increase from 0.60 to 0.70 on the short stay car parks would fail to have the desired effect, and it was therefore agreed to increase the charge to Mrs J M Mackie suggested that the purchase price for the District Wide Housing Needs Survey be increased to 20.00, as opposed to It was then To agree the proposed charges for 2004/05, subject to minor amendments. 751 PROGRESS AND EFFECTIVENESS OF SOUTH NORFOLK COUNCIL S MANAGEMENT REORGANISATION Members considered the report of the Chief Executive which considered aspects of the effectiveness of the management re-organisation carried out between June 2002 and April The Chairman was pleased to note the encouraging and supportive comments of both the CPA and the District Audit s report which portrayed the re-organisation as well thought out with adequate attention given to the Council s policies and procedures. Members also noted that there were ongoing requirements and further issues to be explored and the outcome of these would be reported to a future Cabinet meeting. The Chairman reported that the redundancy costs of the re-organisation stood at 67,776, significantly less than the total costs allowed for. Members agreed that a letter should be forwarded to Richard Bacon MP, confirming the position with regard to the costs of re-organisation. It was then To note the comments made so far and receive a further report in early January 2004 which will outline the staff opinions and the capacity issues related to Service Heads write to Richard Bacon MP confirming the current position with regard to the costs of reorganisation. 752 CPA IMPROVEMENT PLANNING Members considered the report of the Head of Corporate Affairs and the Chief Executive which presented to members an Improvement Plan aimed at achieving an excellent rating in the next CPA inspection. Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 7

8 Members congratulated the Head of Corporate Affairs and the Chief Executive on an excellent report. Dr J W M Peterson advised members that he felt it crucial that poor performance was closely monitored, and felt that portfolio holders should be more involved in resolving how to improve areas of poor performance. In referring to the recent staff workshop sessions, Mr J B Halliday stated that he was surprised that some staff were not aware of the performance indicators relating to their service, and the Head of Corporate Affairs felt that lessons could be learnt from services such as Benefits, where current PI levels were made visible to staff. The Chief Executive commented that in relation to PI s an improvement planning exercise would be undertaken with the Cabinet in early January The Chairman added that the staff workshops had resulted in good ideas such as job shadowing and members visiting teams to meet staff and gain a better understanding of services. After the Head of Corporate Affairs had confirmed that the percentage of invoices paid on time had increased considerably since last reported, it was To approve the Improvement Plan and Action Plan note that Cabinet will receive regular quarterly monitoring reports with regard to the Improvement Plan and Action Plan as part of the Council s Performance Management routines. 753 REVIEW OF INTERNAL AUDIT WORK Members considered the report of the Audit Manager which presented members the results of internal audit work for the year to December The Audit Manager presented his report and advised members that he had been most satisfied with the quality and the timing of the work produced from the new contractor. Members noted the need for extra work to give the Head of Financial Services the required assurances to enable him to complete the statement of internal financial control required as part of the statement of accounts. The Audit Manager reminded members that internal financial control had scored a low rating as part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment and he acknowledged that there was a need to improve in this area. It was then To endorse the report on the work of internal audit. 754 HOUSING STOCK TRANSFER - UPDATE Members considered the report of the Corporate Director (TM) which updated members on the progress made with the Housing Stock Transfer process. Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 8

9 The Chairman reported that negotiations over the transfer were progressing steadily. It was then To note the contents of the report. 755 CABINET CORE AGENDA Members considered the latest version of the Cabinet Core Agenda. Dr J W M Peterson requested that members note that he was not the responsible member for Air Quality as the Core Agenda had indicated. The responsible member was Mrs J Caldwell. Members also noted that an update on the staff survey would be reported at the January 2004 meeting of the Cabinet (The meeting concluded at a.m) Chairman Cab Min 8 December2003/CB 9

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