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Our selection process

Stage 1 – Application and business plan

The first stage is the assessment of applications and business plan.  The assessment is undertaken by a panel of County Council Officers who will recommend a short list of applicants to be taken forward to the second (interview) stage.  The final list of applicants to be interviewed will be agreed by the Head of Property and the process will be independently audited.

As part of this stage the financial reference will be taken up and reviewed.  This may include undertaking additional financial checks as appropriate.

On the basis of the application form, business plan and satisfactory financial reference the Officer panel will score each application against a pre-determined scoring matrix and will recommend a short list of applicants to be put forward for the second (interview) stage.  The total number of applications recommended to go forward to the next stage is not pre-determined.

Scores from the first stage will be carried forward to the second stage.  The results of the scoring of these applications may be made available for moderation by an external third party or Internal Audit (if required).

Stage 2 – Farm visits and interviews

Prior to the interview

Each candidate’s application will undergo:

  • An inspection from the County Farms Team to the candidates existing holding where they farm in their own right as owner/tenant (if applicable)
  • The personal reference being taken up and reviewed by all members of the interview panel
  • The business plan being reviewed by all members of the interview panel

For the interview itself:

The interviews are undertaken by the members of the Tenant Selection Panel which will generally comprise some combination of the following:

  • Two elected Members from the Business and Property Committee (voting)
  • Head of Property (vote, plus casting vote, if required)
  • County Farms Surveyor (vote)

Norfolk County Council may invite a technical expert to attend the panel from one of more of the following bodies (non-voting):

  • The National Farmers Union
  • Country Land and Business Association
  • Tenant Farmers Association

Applicants will be informed of the make-up of the interview panel in advance.

All applicants will be asked the same questions, however there may be supplementary questions on particular points relevant to the proposed business plan to ensure understanding by
the panel.

Final decision-making

On the basis of the interview the panel will score each applicant against a pre-determined scoring matrix.  The aim is to hold interviews for each holding on the same day, however this will depend on the number of applicants invited to interview and may extend to a second day.

A decision will be made by the tenant selection panel as soon as possible after completion of all interviews for each holding.  Decisions will be communicated to each applicant by telephone within 48 hours, followed by a decision letter.  If required, appointments with the relevant County Farms Surveyor will be made for those unsuccessful applicants to provide more comprehensive feedback on their application.

It should be noted that a decision can include not letting the holding to any of the applicants interviewed.

Lobbying/canvasing of County Council Officers and elected Members, or any of the potential non-voting panel members prior to or during the application process will lead to automatic and immediate disqualification of the applicant from the process.  Furthermore the applicant will not be permitted to make new applications for a Norfolk County Farms Estate holding for a minimum of two years from the date the applicant was notified of the disqualification.

Applicants are advised not to use elected Members (or their local Councillors) or Officers as either referees or references, nor ask for letters of support.

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