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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held via Zoom on Wednesday 2 September 2020 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor D Bushby (Chairman)
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor D McGeough

South Ward:

Councillor R Wootton

East Ward:

Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs J Gubb (Vice-Chairman)
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer

West Ward:

Councillor D Ratcliff

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)

130.     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

There were no apologies for absence.

(Councillor Ratcliff left the meeting due to technical issues)

131.    DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

There were no declarations of interest.

132.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

No Members of the public were present at the meeting.

133.    MINUTES

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Gubb and seconded by Councillor Bushby, the minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0, Abstentions: 2)

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Gubb and seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer, the minutes of the meeting held on 20 February 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0, Abstentions: 2)

134.    CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

The Town Clerk advised that the digital noticeboard is ready for installation in the Queen St. Office, and the two remaining artwork sculptures are due to be installed in Cooper St. in the next couple of weeks.

135.   ACCOUNTS

a.  Members received the list of payments.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and

RESOLVED: That the draft list of payments dated 2 September 2020 is approved.

(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0, Abstentions: 2)

b.      INTERNAL FINANCE INSPECTOR’S REPORT

Members considered the Internal Finance Inspector’s report.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Christie and

RESOLVED: That the Internal Finance Inspector’s Report for the period 1 April – 30 June 2020 is accepted.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

Members thanked Councillor Ratcliff for his work as Internal Finance Inspector.

136.    MEMBER ALLOWANCES

Members considered the The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 in order to make a recommendation to Council for the financial year 2020/21.

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Hellyer and

RECOMMENDED: That Members allowances and the Mayor’s allowance increase by 2.75% in line with the salary rise agreed for staff with effect from September 2020. The Councillor’s allowance will rise to £912 per annum.
The Mayor’s allowance will rise to £2,055 per Mayoral year with an additional sum of £514 for use by the Deputy Mayor if required.

137.    WAR MEMORIAL PLAQUE

The Town Clerk advised that the war memorial plaque and stone, in memory of all civilians killed in conflict and war, was ready to be installed in Victoria Park. She is just waiting for the required risk assessments and Public Liability insurance to be provided before installation.

138.   WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY REGULATIONS

Members received a report on the progress made towards complying with the Accessibility Regulations which come into force in September 2020.

It was agreed that should there be a cost implication for expert assistance, then this be approved as a necessary expenditure.

139.   DRUM CLOCK

(Councillor Mrs Gubb left the meeting).

Members considered the cost of servicing and repairing the Drum clock in the High Street. During discussions Councillor McGeough declared a non-pecuniary interest (owns DM Scaffolding), and offered to provide access scaffolding free of charge, and to also pay for the pavement licence required.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and

RESOLVED: That the Drum clock is repaired and serviced in line with the quotation provided and that the generous offer made by Councillor McGeough to provide the scaffolding free of charge and pay for the pavement licence is accepted.

(Vote: For: 6, Against: 0, Out of room: 1)

(Councillor Mrs Gubb returned to the meeting).

140.   ST MARY’S CHURCH CLOCK

Members considered a request from St Mary’s Church regarding a grant towards servicing their clock whilst taking into account the Local Government act 1894 (sections 6 and 8). Councillor Christie advised that the clock had been considered by many townspeople as the main town clock, since 1878, when it was presented to the town by the Stucley family (on the proviso the Town Council maintained it), and that it would therefore be eligible for Town Council funding. Other Members agreed. Councillor Christie then advised that St Mary’s Church had also approached a second organisation for help with funding. It was therefore agreed to defer the decision until it was known what financial support would be forthcoming from elsewhere. Members were however in support of making a financial contribution towards the repair of the clock, should it be required.

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Hellyer, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RESOLVED: That the decision regarding the funding request for St Mary’s Church Clock is deferred and placed on the Town Council agenda, so that more information on other potential funding is available when the decision is taken.

(Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

141.   SKATE RAMP

This item was withdrawn, as the skate ramp is no longer available.

142.   FREE PARKING COSTS

Members considered the parking costs for free parking in Bideford (from 10.00 am) during the Christmas period.

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Bushby, and

RECOMMENDED: That the provision of free parking at Christmas is agreed in principle, in line with the Town Council budget provision, and that the parking days are confirmed with Torridge District Council by the Town Clerk once it is ascertained which will be the small business day, and what format the Christmas Light Switch on event will take.

(Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

143.   FORD WOODS

Members considered a request from a resident of Soloman Drive, to engage a tree surgeon at his own expense, to undertake some tree surgery behind his property.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RESOLVED: That the request is granted provided that a suitably qualified tree surgeon is employed by the householder at his own expense, and that the Town Council is provided with the contractor’s risk assessment and Public Liability insurance before the work commences.

(Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

144.    POST CODE GARDENER PLANTERS

Members considered a request from the Postcode Gardener for the Town Council to take ownership and responsibility for planters that are planned for the top of the High Street and Bridge Street. Members were concerned that the planters replicate as far as possible the look and feel of the other planters in the town, if they are to become the responsibility of the Town Council. Members would not like to see them solely planted with edibles.

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Hellyer and

RESOLVED: That the request is granted, provided agreement is secured by the Postcode Gardener from both Devon County Council, and the Chairman of SFGP and Town Clerk as to the type and positioning of the proposed planters, and the type of planting contained within.

(Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

The Town Clerk advised that funding had been secured by the Postcode Gardener from Awards for All, to secure her services for a further year. The Town Clerk was in the process of extending her contract with the Town Council on a self-employed basis.

(Councillor Ratcliff returned to the meeting).

145.    SIGNING OF THE LEASE CEREMONY

Members considered the Signing of the Lease Ceremony scheduled for December 2020, and what format this should take.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the Signing of the Lease Ceremony goes ahead on a socially distanced basis. This item should be referred to the Market Management Committee to agree the detail of a socially distanced event.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

146.    JOHN STRANGE PORTRAIT

Members considered the inspection of the John Strange Portrait in the Mayor's Parlour which is in need of some attention.

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and

RESOLVED: That a quotation for the restoration of the painting is obtained.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

147.    LOCAL GOVERNMENT STAFF PAY AGREEMENT

Members received details of the 2020-21 pay agreements for local government staff.

148.    LEASE FOR 1 QUEEN STREET

Members considered the terms of a new 3-year lease for number 1 Queen Street. Several Members noted surprise that the District Council had increased the rent at this particular time.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and

RESOLVED: That the 3 year lease for number 1 Queen Street is agreed on the terms provided.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

149.    MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives and some of the specific jobs were discussed. Members noted how flexible and supportive the team had been during challenging times and asked the Town Clerk to pass on their thanks to the whole team for their sterling work.

The Town Clerk advised that the team had been covering the daily operation of the Pannier Market for the last 6 weeks to cover sickness absence. It is standard practice to recharge the Pannier Market for Maintenance Work carried out by the team, but the cover required had been much more intensive than usual, due to the Covid-19 cleaning demands. She asked should a recharge be made to the Pannier Market for this cover. The cost to the Town Council was approaching £4,500. Members asked that this be placed on the next Market Management agenda for their view, and available budget.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and

RESOLVED: That the Market Management Committee are consulted about the recharge for cover provided by the Maintenance Team at the Pannier Market.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

Members considered the purchase of a gum machine.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Wootton and

RESOLVED: That a demonstration is arranged, before a decision is taken.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

150.     DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The next meeting of the Staffing, Finance and General Purposes Committee will be on Thursday 8 October at 6.30 pm.

151.     PART II CLOSED SESSION

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and

RESOLVED: That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be discussed, the meeting moves into part II.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

152.     STAFFING MATTERS

There is a confidential Minute associated with this item.

153.    Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and

RESOLVED: That the meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 19.30.

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