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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 28 October 2021 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor P S Christie
Councillor D Bushby (Chairman)

South Ward:

Councillor P Lawrence

East Ward:

Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor J McKenzie

West Ward:

Councillor Mrs K Corfe
Councillor D Ratcliff

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mr R D G Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Councillor J Craigie

051.    APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

There were no apologies received.

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

Councillor Mrs Gubb declared a pecuniary interest in agenda item 15 (Husband is a seasonal Member of the Maintenance Team).

053.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

No Members of the public were present at the meeting.

054.    MINUTES

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie and seconded, the minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2021 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

055.    CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

• The Clerk drew Members’ attention to serial number twenty four of the Payment list – South West Ambulance Service. He advised Members that £1,000.00 had been secured from the TDC budgets of Councillors McKenzie and Hawkins to pay for a Defibrillator to be attached to the Pannier Market building.

056.     ACCOUNTS

a.         Members received the list of payments.

Councillors Craigie, McKenzie and Lawrence asked how many litter bins had been acquired and where they would be deployed. The Clerk could not recall how many had been purchased but would check and follow up with an E mail to the councillors.

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb, and

RESOLVED: That the draft list of payments is approved

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

b.          Members received the Conclusion of Audit from PK Littlejohns.

The Clerk explained the Accounting inspection and safeguarding process highlighting the minimalist report actually indicated that the Responsible Financial Officer was administering and controlling the complex task with aplomb; Members acquiesced.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie, and

RESOLVED: That the Conclusion of Audit from PK Littlejohns is noted.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

c.          Members received the Internal Finance Inspector’s Report - Records as at 30th September 2021.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie, and

RESOLVED: That the Internal Finance Inspector’s Report is accepted.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

Councillor Mrs Shirley Langford was thanked for her role as Internal Finance Inspector. 

057.      HANGING BASKET REFILLS

Members considered the quotation for the Hanging Basket refills for 2022; the Chairman believed a contribution should be requested from the traders. He indicated that the owner of a local chain of baker’s shops had used the monies collected from the sale of plastic bags and donated the sum of £250.00 towards the Hanging Basket initiative. The Chairman indicated that he would personally canvas and request support from traders asking for a suggested minimum of £25.00.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Corfe, and

RECOMMENDED: That the quotation for the Hanging Basket refills for 2022 from Merry Harriers is accepted.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

058.     FLORAL PLANTER REFILLS

Councillor Mrs Gubb led discussion on the lacklustre state of the Old Town Planters, an initiative set in motion by the Mayor and (TDC) Councillor A T Inch (her brother). Whilst Councillor Mrs Corfe indicated a willingness to raise funding for plants / bulbs through a bake sale the Chairman suggested that TDC councillors, including those from Bideford South, could provide funding; he, himself, could offer £200.00.

Councillor J Craigie referred to the Welcome Back Planters asking for consideration by the Council for their continuation and development / increase. The Chairman indicated that the future of the Welcome Back Planters will be an agenda item for the next Meeting.

Members considered the quotation for the Floral Planter refills for 2022.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Ratcliff, and

RESOLVED: That the quotation for the Floral Planter refills for 2022 from Merry Harriers is accepted.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

059.     CLEAN AIR EXCHANGE

Members received further information on the clean air exchange unit and considered the purchase of a system for the Town Hall/Council Chamber.

Councillor Ratcliff explained that eight “Blue 221 Air purifier” Units would be necessary for the dimensions of the (Council Chamber) room; the particle concentration was horrifying; there is no air movement.

The Chairman wondered if this was a salesman’s view and if there were sufficient sockets within the Chamber.

Councillor Ratcliff indicated the Units were low wattage. Councillor Mrs R Craigie asked how long they would run – prior to and during the Meeting.

Councillor Ratcliff indicated that each Unit was very cheap to run, the equivalent of a 60 watt bulb that an hour before and during – they are very quiet.

The Chairman felt it would be prudent to try four, in the first instance.
Councillor Christie agreed that four should be considered but wondered at the infrastructure costings – sockets.

Councillor McKenzie speculated with the advent of the successful vaccination programme, lower hospitalisation and COVID-19 trailing off that the equipment would be underutilised.

The Chairman indicated that with very little air movement in the Chamber they would provide for a safe environment to conduct a meeting.

Councillor J Craigie raised the spectre of the combined threat of COVID-19 and Climate Change, that there will be more pandemics in the future highly likely dispersed through air borne disease; the frequency of occurrences will increase.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RECOMMENDED: That four Blue 221 Air Purifier units are purchased for use prior to and during Council Chamber Meetings.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 1)

060.     TOWN FLAGS

Members considered the purchase of two new handmade, bespoke town flags.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and

RESOLVED: That two further handmade town flags are purchased.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

061.   GRANT APPLICATION FORM

Members considered whether any changes are required to the grant application form.

The Chairman indicated that he would like the amount requested to be in a prominent position on the front page, top right.

Councillor Christie led a discussion on the maximum amount that an applicant could request. It was felt that a line could be introduced detailing the number of grants made, in the previous grant funding stream, and the accumulated total.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie and

RESOLVED: That the amount requested to be in a prominent position on the front page, top right of the Grant application form. Information detailing the number of grants made, in the previous grant funding stream, and the accumulated total be included in the form.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

062.    NEW MAINTENANCE TEAM FACILITY

Members considered the quotations for the clearance of the land in the light of the Chairman’s explanation of the work required. He drew Members’ attention to the similar costs of site clearance with material staying on site but noting the cost of haulage for removal; he stressed the need for the “enormous pile” to be removed.

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and

RECOMMENDED: That S.E.L. Clarke Contractors Ltd are engaged to clear the land and remove away all green waste.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

Members considered allocating delegated powers for decisions concerning the design brief, selection of an architect and quantity surveyor in order to expediate the information required to apply for a public works loan.

Councillor Christie noted the large cost to clear the site, the horrific costs of architects, planning permissions and further associated expenses wondered if it would all come within the budgeted cost of the Dotto Train project.

The Chairman conceded that there were slight unknowns but was hopeful that the initiative would come within £25,000.00; he agreed that there were very few commercial architects in practise.

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That delegated powers for decisions concerning the design brief, selection of an architect and quantity surveyor in order to expediate the information required to apply for a public works loan are given to the Mayor, Chairman and Town Clerk.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

063.     EMERGENCY GRANT REQUEST

Members considered a request from the Store Homelessness Project for an emergency grant for provisions for their new premises. The Clerk advised Members that there was £7,000.00 left in grant fund noting that Bideford and District Sea Cadets will be putting in an emergency grant for CCTV.

Following discussion, the Chairman indicated that the decision will be deferred to confirm the application and amount requested. He suggested that there may also be an opportunity to invite them to speak about the Project at a future Town Council Meeting.

064.      EMERGENCY GRANT REQUEST

Members considered a request from South West Event Management Solutions (SWEMS) for an emergency grant towards a New Year’s Eve party at the Pannier Market.

Councillor Mrs Gubb advised, in her role as Chairman of the Tourism Committee, that the Committee were planning to hold a Christmas Party, in the Market Hall, on Sunday 12 December 2021. In the light of the Grant Application consideration had been given to withdraw the Event, there are a number of Festive Events running from 28 November 2021, through the Signing of the Lease, Christmas Lights Switch On, in favour of a New Year’s Eve family event.

She indicated there was an underspend in the Tourism Budget, that combined with £1,500.00 from the Bridge Trust could see the remainder drawn from Grant funding.

The Chairman believed that a party in the Market Hall on New Year’s Eve, for children and local families would be very good for the Town Council.

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Gubb seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the £5,280.00 is provided to SWEMS through the £1,500.00 Bideford Bridge Trust commitment, the remainder from the Tourism Budget underspend and Emergency Grant fund.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

065.     MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives and noted the report.

Councillor Mrs R Craigie requested that a low wall around the War Memorial at Chudleigh Fort be attended to.

066.      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)

067.     STAFFING MATTERS

There is a confidential Minute associated with this item.

068.     Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Ratcliff 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 7.30 pm.

Table of accounts for approval at Staffing Finance General Purposes Meeting 28 October 2021

 

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