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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 23 November 2017 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor D Bushby
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor P J Pester

South Ward:

Councillor D G Brenton
Councillor S G Inch (Chairman)

East Ward:

Councillor M Langmead
Councillor J McKenzie (Substitute for Councillor McGeough)

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)

083. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor D Howell (South (outer) Ward – Personal).
Councillor D McGeough (North Ward - Personal).

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

There were no declarations of interest.

085. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

No members of the public were present at the meeting.

086. MINUTES

a. Thursday 12 October 2017

Proposed by Councillor Pester and seconded by Councillor Christie, the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

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

b. Thursday 19 October 2017 (grants).

Proposed by Councillor Christie and seconded by Councillor Pester, the minutes of the meeting held on 19 October 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 4, Against: 0, Abstentions: 3)

087. CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

The Town Clerk reported that She had been contacted by the Boxing Club following receipt of their grant letter, and they are willing to include the town crest on their new chain of office.

The Town Clerk advised that The Admin Assistant is looking at updating the look of the website with a view to making documentation easier to find. She will probably require some assistance from Gingerweb, but we will come back with a cost for this.

The Town Clerk advised that PKF Littlejohn LLP had been appointed as the External Auditor for smaller authorities in place of Grant Thornton.

088. ACCOUNTS

Members received the list of payments.

Councillor Langmead noted that the payment for HP toner seemed rather high, and suggested that the Town Clerk contact HP direct to enquire about an automatic toner renewal system.  The Town Clerk will make further enquiries.

Councillor Christie felt that the service and wiring work undertaken on the Toyota was rather expensive. Councillor Bushby explained that the trailer connection point had been replaced, and that as the Toyota was receiving its first service, it was best to go to the main dealer. The Town Clerk was asked to look for an alternative service supplier next year.

Councillor Pester remarked that the cost to the Town Council for the Remembrance Service Parade is quite high – and that there was no police traffic control, or indeed any other police presence.

The Town Clerk advised that the traffic management cost was less than it had been last year due to the use of our own operatives, but that the overall cost was quite high due to the amount of personnel  and vehicles which needed to be sourced externally.

Councillor Bushby asked how much the Allotment sites cost the Council annually. The Town Clerk advised that the cost was roughly £1,000 per annum for all four sites.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That the draft list of payments is approved.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0)

INTERNAL FINANCE INSPECTOR’S REPORT

Members considered the Internal Finance Inspector’s report.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Brenton and

RESOLVED: That the Internal Finance Inspector’s Report for the period 1 July – 30 September 2017 is approved.

Councillor Pester was thanked for his work as Internal Finance Inspector.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

089. BUDGET SETTING

Members discussed the deferral of the annual budget setting process to the SFGP meeting on 11 January 2018, to bring this in line with receipt of information on the Council Tax Support grant from Torridge District Council, which is not expected until 11 December 2017.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That the recommendation for the budget for 2018/2019 is deferred to the SFGP Meeting on 11 January 2018.

The Town Clerk was asked to ascertain from Torridge District Council the approximate figure for the housing increase this year.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

090. GRANT APPLICATION

a. The Town Clerk advised that there had been a late application from the Northam Choral Society which had got lost in the post and asked Members whether they wished to consider it.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Inch and

RESOLVED: That the late application is accepted.

(Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

b. Members considered the grant application of contribution from the Northam Choral Society.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That a grant of £250 is awarded to the Northam Choral Society.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0)

091. DESIGNATION OF A NEIGHBOURHOOD AREA

Councillor Bushby asked about the advantages of producing a Neighbourhood Plan and Councillor Brenton advised that having a Neighbourhood Plan will give the Council more control. The Neighbourhood Plan provides detailed aspirations for Bideford and is compiled in consultation with the public – it carries weight. It would provide the Town with a platform to have more say, on its future.

Councillor Christie indicated that the Neighbourhood Plan must fit with the Local Plan and government legislation and that that this is already in place. However, it does provide the opportunity to direct how and where infrastructure monies are disbursed – which he fully supported. Councillor Langmead suggested that such a plan would give the Town Council more weight to refuse the relocation of the library to Victoria Park and Councillor Christie agreed – subject to public consultation.

It was noted that there are funds available from Torridge District Council to help pay for the local plan.

Members gave consideration to the content of the Application for the Designation of a Neighbourhood Area.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Brenton and

RESOLVED: That the content of the Application for the Designation of a Neighbourhood Area is agreed.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

092. ANNUAL BOUNDARY SURVEY FORD HOUSE WOODLAND

Members gave consideration to the quotations for the annual boundary survey at Ford House Woodland.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That the quotation provided by Coastal Tree is accepted.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

093. TREE SURGERY AT FORD WOODS

Members considered a request and associated details, from a householder at Rowe Close for tree surgery in Ford Woods.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Inch and

RESOLVED: That permission is given for the Tree Surgery as detailed in the request, providing that there is no cost to The Town Council, that a suitably qualified and insured tree surgeon is engaged, and that the Torridge District Council Tree Officer is in agreement.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

094. TRAINEE MAINTENANCE OPERATIVE

The Town Clerk asked Members if they felt that the Trainee Maintenance Operative needed to be able to drive. Members felt that ideally the Operative should be able to drive, or in the process of learning.

Members gave consideration to which Members would be involved in the recruitment process for the Trainee Maintenance Operative.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Christie and

RESOLVED: That The Town Clerk, Councillor Bushby and Councillor Pester have delegated recruitment responsibility.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

095. MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives and some of the specific tasks were discussed.

Members also discussed whether the Town Council was being paid for work conducted on behalf of other authorities. The Town Clerk advised that most of the work being undertaken was on Devon County Council land, and that she was progressing a grass cutting payment, and had successfully applied for a number of equipment grants. Councillor Bushby advised that he was in agreement for securing payment wherever possible, but that the impetus for employing a maintenance team initially had been due to the fact that other Councils were reducing their services due to budget cuts. It was suggested that a contribution towards the work being carried out on Devon County Council land by our Maintenance Team is raised with the County Councillor at the next Town Council meeting. Councillor Brenton also suggested that DALC be asked whether any other Councils receive County Council funding for maintenance tasks.

There was also some discussion regarding the origin of the tasks undertaken and whether all requests should come from a Councillor. The Town Clerk advised that Members did not make sufficient requests to fill the Operative’s workload, and so she also authorised work within the Town. She said that the Operatives are very proactive and often identify work which needs doing – but everything comes through the office.

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 07.30 pm.

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