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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 11 January 2018 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor D Bushby
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor McGeough
Councillor P J Pester

South Ward:

Councillor D G Brenton
Councillor S G Inch (Chairman)
Councillor R Wootton

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
2 x Members of the Public
Councillor J McKenzie

096.    APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor D Howell (South (Outer) Ward - Personal).
Councillor M Langmead (East Ward - Personal).

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

There were no declarations of interest at this point in the meeting.

098.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

Rebecca Frajbis from Out of this World Events spoke about how she intends to work and involve Petroc students in the organisation of New Year’s Eve 2018/19. She reported that there has been a lot of interest from the students.

099.    MINUTES

Proposed by Councillor Pester and seconded by Councillor Wootton, the minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2017 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0)

100.    CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

The Town Clerk reported that three candidate have been shortlisted for the position of Trainee Maintenance Operative and that the interviews have been scheduled for Friday 19 January.

The Town Clerk reported that two large trees had fallen in the woodland during the windy period, one of which had needed to be made safe, and the second of which had required tree surgery as it was blocking the entrance to the woods.

The Town Clerk reported that Gingerweb had been working with Claire on sourcing a new template to update the website. The Joomla system used to build the website has not been updated for a long time and there are a number of reasons why this is required. The primary reason is security, but it will also speed up the website, and allow for the various application forms we use to be safely put on the web site. The Admin Assistant will need help and training to transfer the current information to the new website. The overall cost for the template, training and information transfer will be around £900. This is provided for within the draft budget.

The Town Clerk and Deputy Town Clerk attended some free training hosted by TTVS on the General Data Protection Regulations which will come into force in May 2018. The session was extremely useful, and has highlighted what work needs to be done to comply with the legislation. There is also some sector specific training being hosted by Dalc in March/April which The Town Clerk felt would be useful to attend. It is £40 per person, plus travelling costs.

Councillors Brenton and Christie raised the issue of the sink hole in Grenville Street which is getting bigger. There was discussion around the delay in rectifying the issue, where the responsibility lay, and the loss of sales for traders in the area and at the Pannier Market. Councillor McGeough read out the email received from Councillor Hellyer, which detailed the situation to date. It was suggested that the Pannier Market traders should get together and submit a compensation claim to Devon County Council . (Councillor Christie declared a personal interest as a Pannier Market Trader). It was suggested and agreed that this could be raised under “issues raised by Traders”, which is an agenda item on the Market Management agenda, for the meeting scheduled for 18 January 2018.

101.    ACCOUNTS

a.    Members received the list of payments.

Councillor Wootton asked why the Maintenance Operative did not get their fuel from Asda which is currently cheaper than Blights. Members felt that the quality of fuel provided by Blights is more suitable for a Town Council owned vehicle.

Councillor Bushby asked about the payment for the gate at Handy Cross. The Town Clerk explained that it had been agreed with the Chairman of the Allotment Committee that the Town Council would pay 50% of the repairs to the gatepost, as it had been in situ for 2 years. Councillor Bushby said he would go and inspect the work that had been done.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the list of payments is approved.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0 )

b.   Members received and approved the Council’s interim Independent Auditor’s Report for the Financial Year 2017 – 2018.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the Council’s Interim Independent Auditor’s Report for the Financial Year 2017-2018 is noted.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

c.    To authorise the Town Clerk to purchase a gift for the Manor Court speaker.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the Town Clerk is authorised to purchase a gift for the Manor Court speaker with a budget of up to £250.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

102.    GRANTS TO LOCAL ORGANISATIONS

Members discussed the deferred grant applications:

SOUTH WEST MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS:

Members felt that the Christmas Light Switch on Event in 2017 had gone very well, and that South West Management Solutions had done a good job. There were a few learning points that had come out of the wash-up meeting, and Councillor Bushby asked that these were taken on board.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RECOMMENDED: That a grant of £10,000 is given to South West Management Solutions towards the organisation of the Christmas Light Switch on event in 2018.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

OUT OF THIS WORD EVENTS:

Members discussed the New Year’s Eve event held for 2017/2018 and the following points were raised:

• There was some surprise that the Fireworks were let off from Victoria Park and Members felt that this had not been advertised very well. Councillor McGeough explained that Brunswick Wharf had not been available as it is currently being sold. It was noted that the organisers would like to set the fireworks off from a barge on the river next year. Councillor Brenton said that although he hadn’t expected to the fireworks to be set off from the park, they were spectacular.
• There was concern that additional money had been requested for stewards during the Christmas period, which was extremely late in the day. The situation had been resolved, but there was some confusion as to how the funding/savings had been achieved. It was suggested that alternative grant applications could be sought.
• Councillor Bushby advised that the Pannier Market entertainment was very good and extremely well attended. He felt that a large proportion of the grant was for the fireworks and that the additional money was required for safety measures and late evening entertainment. He felt that the organisers had experienced a steep learning curve and had not had a lot of time for the event organisation.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RECOMMENDED: That a grant of £13,475 is given to Out of this World Events towards the organisation of the New Year’s Eve entertainment in 2018.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

103.    QUAY TREES

Members considered the replacement of the two dead trees along Bideford Quay with Norway Maple. The Town Clerk advised that the Maintenance Operatives feel that they would be able to plant them although we may need to hire some equipment to assist with removing the tarmac. Councillor Christie advised that he had held a number of conversations with The Tree Officer, and although the Norway Maple are a different species to the rest of the trees (Ash), it would be risky replanting Ash due to disease issues, and so the Norway Maple is probably the best alternative. Councillor Wootton was concerned that the Norway Maple can grow quite tall, but Councillor Inch advised they could be kept in check via pruning. Councillor Christie requested that The Tree Officer be consulted when the planting takes place. The Town Clerk advised that she would also need permission from Devon County Council before planting new trees.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RESOLVED: That subject to permission from Devon County Council the two dead trees along Bideford Quay are replaced with Norway Maple.

(Vote: For: 7, Against: 0)

104.    FLORAL PLANTERS

Members considered whether to re-tender for the planting, maintenance and storage of the floral planters following the 2018 season, or whether to take this on in-house. The Town Clerk advised the current annual cost of planting, maintaining and storing the planters and outlined the alternative proposals. Councillor Bushby suggested that an area could be cleared at Handy Cross, and some hard core laid, to store the planters. He advised that Grow Jigsaw is keen to work with us, and one of our Maintenance Operatives has a lot of horticultural experience. The planters could be planted up on site, and then moved with a flat bed lorry as per the current arrangement. The Maintenance Operatives could water the planters on a weekly basis. (Councillor Brenton declared a personal interest – Board Member at Westwood).

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RECOMMENDED: That the planting, maintenance and storage of the floral planters are done in house for the 2019 season onwards.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

105.    SEWER VENTILATION COLUMNS

Members gave consideration to the quotations for access equipment required to paint the sewer ventilation columns. There was discussion regarding how many sewer ventilation columns the Town Council own. Councillor Christie felt sure the Town Council owns six, whilst the Town Clerk advised that only four are shown on the Asset Register. The Town Clerk and Councillor Christie will make further enquiries.

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Christie and

RESOLVED: That the quotation from DS Electrical is accepted, subject to the Maintenance Operatives confirming that the access equipment is suitable for the job. Should this not be the case, the second quotation will be accepted with the same proviso.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

106.    BIDEFORD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

a.   Members considered the quotation for the refurbishment of the column motifs.

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RECOMMENDED: That the quotation from DS Electrical for the refurbishment of the column motifs is accepted and that the expenditure is re-allocated from the project budget.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

b.    Members considered the quotation for the pull testing of the Christmas Light brackets in 2018.

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the quotation from DS Electrical is accepted.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

c.    Members considered whether to continue with the current arrangement of a fixed price contract for the repair, installation and dismantling of the Christmas Lights.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RECOMMENDED: That DS Electrical continues to install, repair, maintain and dismantle the Christmas lights under the current arrangement. An additional £2,000 is to be re-allocated from the project budget for the repair of the storm damaged lighting.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

107.    MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives and some of the specific tasks were discussed. Members reiterated that the Maintenance Operatives were doing a great job within the town and Pannier Market.

108.    BUDGET 2018/2019

The Town Clerk presented the draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2018/2019.

The Chairman asked the Town Clerk if she was confident that the proposed increase would cover all the Council expenditure for the coming Financial year. The Town Clerk replied in the affirmative. Councillor Bushby felt that the increase was modest, especially given the substantial increase in work being undertaken within the town and the expansion of the Maintenance team. Following discussion a final draft budget was agreed which is attached and forms part of these Minutes.

Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RECOMMENDED: That the Council approves the budget of £414,333.00 which is an increase of 1.99% on a band D, in respect of the Financial Year commencing 1 April 2018 and that the Council’s reserves remain at £130,000.00.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

The Town Clerk was asked to contact the Head of Paid Services at Torridge District Council and request the increased precept figures for the Crime Commissioner and Devon County Council which were provided at the Leadership meeting.

109.    PART II CLOSED SESSION

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

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

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

110.    STAFFING MATTERS

There is a confidential Minute associated with this item.

111.    Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That the meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 7.39 pm.

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