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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 26 April 2018 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor D Bushby

Councillor P S Christie

Councillor McGeough

Councillor  P Pester

South Ward:

Councillor S G Inch (Chairman)

Councillor R Wootton

South (Outer) Ward

Councillor D Howell

East Ward:

Councillor M Langmead

Councillor Mrs R Craigie (Substitute for Councillor D Brenton)

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk) 

Councillor A Inch (Devon County Council)

144.    APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor D Brenton (South Ward – Personal)

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

Councillor S Inch declared a non-pecuniary interest in Agenda item 17 (Seconded nomination for Citizen’s Award).

Councillor D Bushby declared a non-pecuniary interest in Agenda item 17 (Proposed nomination for Citizen’s Award).

146.    PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

No Members of the public were present at the meeting.

147.    MINUTES

Proposed by Councillor Howell and seconded by Councillor Wootton, the minutes of the meeting held on 29 March 2018 were approved and signed as a correct record.  

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0, Abstention 2) 

148.    CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS
The Town Clerk reported that unfortunately one of the Maintenance Team has had an accident with the Ferris Mower, and it has collided with a vehicle.  The vehicle owner has been contacted.  The Town Clerk and Councillor Bushby will work together to get quotations for the repair to the vehicle, and decide whether an insurance claim is required.

Member discussed the risk assessments which are in place, and the Town Clerk explained the risk assessment and method statement procedure.  Members felt that the Maintenance Team do a good job, and follow safe working practices.  Councillor Inch suggested that it may be sensible to consider a team leader role, and the Town Clerk was asked to put this on the next SFGP Agenda.

Councillor Langmead asked if Bideford Town Council would consider once again contributing to the Flag Raising Ceremony by providing the refreshments.  He also asked for the loan of the benches from the Pannier Market.  The Town Clerk was asked to put this on the next Town Council agenda for consideration.

149.   ACCOUNTS 

a.      Members received the list of payments.

Questions were raised concerning:

The payment to the Bideford Twinning association for ferry tickets, and who would be attending.

The intended location for the purchase of the top soil (Port Memorial Commemorative bed.)

Payment for charity event tickets on behalf of the Mayor (to be reclaimed from the Mayor’s Allowance.)

Mileage payments for a stand-in Beadle, and the role and duties of the Beadles. Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby,  and

RESOLVED: That the draft list of payments is approved. 

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 1 )

b.    INTERNAL FINANCE INSPECTOR’S REPORT

Members considered the Internal Finance Inspector’s report.   The Committee thanked Councillor Pester for his work as Internal Finance Inspector.

Proposed by Councillor  Langmead, seconded by Councillor Howell and 

RESOLVED:  That the Internal Finance Inspector’s Report for the period 1 January – 31 March 2018 is approved.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

c.   NON-EARMARKED FUNDS

Members gave consideration to the allocation of the non-earmarked funds of £44,818.

Councillor Bushby requested that a sum from the non-earmarked funds be ring-fenced for matched funding bids for the land train. Councillor Christie said that he would like to see the Ilfracombe train before any money is ring-fenced.  Councillor Bushby offered to arrange a trip to Ilfracombe to look at the land train.Councillor Langmead advised that he has been progressing the purchase of a land train with a Torridge District Council officer for the last 2.5 years, with the anticipation of using 106 money.  

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Howell and

RECOMMENDED:  That £20,000 of the non-earmarked funds of £44,818 is allocated to the land train project.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 1)

(There had also been a second proposal by Councillor Pester (seconded by Councillor Mrs Craigie) that £30,000 is earmarked for the Land Train project, but no vote took place, as Councillor Langmead’s proposal was carried).
Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RECOMMENDED:  That £24,818 of the non-earmarked funds of £44,818 is allocated to The Town Project fund.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

150.   BUS SHELTER AT BRUNSWICK WHARF

Members considered further information from the Property Manager at Torridge District Council and the request to surrender the current lease on the land housing the bus shelter on Barnstaple Street, with a view to this being relocated.  Members expressed concern at the proposed location of the bus stop as they felt it would be in a dangerous position, further away from Wooda Surgery, and opposite an area which is frequently used for unloading at the Royal Hotel, thereby causing further disruption.  Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Christie and

RECOMMENDED: That Bideford Town Council relinquishes the responsibility for both the lease and the maintenance of the bus shelter.  The Town Clerk was asked to request that the new bus shelter is located nearer Wooda Surgery.

(Vote: For: 9, Against: 0)

Councillor Christie requested that the Torridge District Council East-the-Water Councillors call this in, if the proposed new location isn’t near the surgery.

151.     SKATE PARK DEVELOPMENT

Members noted the response from the Community Engagement Officer at Torridge District Council regarding the funding of additional recreational facilities at the new Skate Park development and his attendance at the next meeting. 

152.    MANOR COURT PRESENTMENTS 

Presentment Number: 6

“That a letter of support is sent to the Volunteers and their Project  Co-ordinator of the Way of the Wharves for their request for planning permission for siting, agreeing the final design with the community.  That this Council further gives assistance with extra funding to complete this strand of the project.  This jury would like to see the project extended to sitings on East the Water.”

Member discussed the above presentment and advised that they cannot provide a letter of support, as this would pre-judge the planning application.  Before any funding is provided, Members require  a detailed report on the planned information panels to include:

The siting of the information panel

The design of the information panel – is an artist’s impression available?

Detailed costings

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Bushby  and 

RESOLVED:  That the Town Clerk obtains a detailed report on the planned information panels, and that the item is placed on the Town Council agenda for consideration.

(Vote For:  9, Against: 0)

Presentment Number  : 4

“The trees in Prospect Place and Manor Car Park, opposite the Quay, need to be included in with the Christmas lights.  We request this Council make the necessary arrangements in time for this year’s Christmas Lights Switch On.”

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Bushby  and 

RESOLVED:  That the Town Clerk obtains a quotation from The Councils’ Christmas Lighting Contractor.  She should also write to The Financial Services organisations at Prospect Place (commencing with Peters Peters and Wright), and ask for a contribution towards the lighting.

(Vote For:  9, Against: 0)

153.     FORD WOODS – ARBORICULTURAL WORK

Members considered the request from a householder at Rowe Close to undertake some tree surgery behind their property at their own expense, and took into consideration the advice received from the Torridge District Council Tree Officer.

Proposed by Councillor  Inch, seconded by Councillor Christie  and  

RESOLVED:  That in accordance with the recommendation of the Torridge District Council Tree Officer, the Householder is requested to provide a written report from the applicant’s tree surgeon/consultant stating why the trees require pruning.  It is also not clear from the map, which trees are to be pruned, and this needs to be clarified.

(Vote For:  9, Against: 0 )

154.    DATA PROTECTION OFFICER

The Town Clerk explained that she and the Deputy Town Clerk had attended training on the General Data Protection Regulations which came into force on 25 May.  There were a number of actions that would need to be undertaken, starting with a data audit, and this was being started.  In addition the Council (as the Data Controller) will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer.  The general advice was that it should be someone other than the Town Clerk.  The Deputy Town Clerk is willing to fulfil this role, he has been on the training course, and is familiar with the types of data held in the office, and has access to all files including financial and personal data.

Proposed by Councillor  McGeough, seconded by Councillor Howell  and  

RESOLVED:  That the Deputy Town Clerk is appointed as the Data Protection Officer for Bideford Town Council.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0 )

155.   NOTICE OF MOTION – COUNCILLOR BUSHBY

“To provide a grant of £1,500 to Bideford Fire Station in order to sponsor the delivery of an “Out of the Blue Course.”  

 Councillor Bushby explained how the project works, the enormous benefits it has for the children involved, and the current funding challenges.  The project needs funding now in order to approach Bideford College with a firm commitment and to run the project this year.  

Councillor Langmead seconded the motion.    Members expressed support for the project as many have been to a presentation evening and seen first-hand the value of the project.  Councillor Mrs Craigie said that she would like to see Bideford Town Council sponsor two “Out of the Blue” projects, rather than just one. 

Councillor Mrs Craigie proposed an amendment to the motion which was seconded by Councillor Bushby and  

RECOMMENDED:  That £3,000 Grant funding is given to the Bideford “Out of the Blue Project” to fund two courses.

(Vote For: 9,  Against: 0 )

156.    NOTICE OF MOTION – COUNCILLOR DERMOT MCGEOUGH

“To install two swings, which are suitable for use by children with physical disabilities.  One swing to be installed in Victoria Park and the other swing at the Pollyfield Play area.” 

Councillor McGeough advised that he would like support for a swing for children with physical disabilities at Victoria Park in the first instance, with one for Pollyfield following later.  He had been quoted £10,500 for one swing, and would get further quotations.  The swing needs to be in its own area for safety, although Councillor Christie requested that this be inside the existing play area for inclusivity.  Councillor Pester was concerned about vandalism.  Members suggested various possible funding sources including section 106 money for play equipment, and Bridge Trust funding.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor  Christie and  

RECOMMENDED:  That the project is supported in principle and led by Councillor McGeough.  Councillor McGeough was asked to bring this back to the SFGP Committee once he has obtained further quotes, and has an indication whether Torridge District Council and the Bridge Trust will provide some funding towards the swing. 

(Vote For:  9, Against 0 )

157.     NOTICE OF MOTION – COUNCILLOR DERMOT MCGEOUGH

To install a decorative arch at Cooper St. to be jointly funded by Mr R Braddick and Bideford Town Council.  

Councillor McGeough circulated the proposed designs for the arch, and the Town Clerk showed other examples of the artist’s work via the internet.  Councillor McGeough advised that the cost would be £6,000 per column and that Mr R Braddick would finance the cost of one column and would also organise the installation of the columns and provide their ongoing maintenance. Members felt that two columns was only a starting point, and that more could be placed along the length of the street.  It was suggested that the columns are placed as a pair at the start of Cooper St (Jubilee Square end), with further columns staggered along the street.  Councillor Christie suggested that they could be floodlit. It was suggested that The Town Council could apply to the New Homes Bonus for the additional columns.  Councillor Howell advised that the Tourism committee will give any assistance required.
Councillor McGeough advised that he would like to secure the funding at this meeting for one column (which will be half of a pair at the beginning of Cooper St.), and then will fund raise the rest. 
Members asked if there are any Christmas lights along Cooper Street, which need to borne in mind?

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Howell  and  

RECOMMENDED:  That Bideford Town Council allocates the sum of £6,000 towards the purchase of one decorative column for Cooper Street. 

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

158.     PAY AWARD

Members received and noted the details of the National Joint Council for Local Government Services pay award.

159.     MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

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

Members discussed the response from Devon County Council concerning the invoice provided for works done by the Bideford Town Council Maintenance Team on Devon County Council property.  Councillor McGeough felt that the works undertaken by Bideford Town Council need to be restructured.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded by Councillor Langmead  and  

RESOLVED:  That Standing Orders are suspended in order to allow County Councillor A Inch to address the Committee.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0 )

Councillor A Inch commenced by saying that he was disappointed in the attitude of the Neighbourhood Highways Officer.  He continued to say that Devon County Council would not pay the invoice that had been presented to them, as they did not have the funding for the work that had been carried out by Bideford Town Council.  The County Council had prioritised their tasks according to their budget, and the fact that they no longer carried out certain tasks had instigated the employment of a Maintenance Team by the Town Council.  He went on to say that the Town Council has not asked for a contribution from Torridge District Council, despite the work done by the Road Sweeper, who is employed by the Town Council.  Councillor McGeough asked for clarification on the issue that had arisen with the gully clearance, and this was provided.

There was discussion on the prioritisation of tasks and Councillor S Inch advised that originally each councillor was asked to detail what they wanted done in their ward, and that was how the priorities were set.

Councillor Bushby, as the originator of the Maintenance Team scheme, asked Members not to lose sight of the positive comments The Town Council is receiving.  We should be proud of the team we have and how much we are doing to improve our environment.  Other Members reiterated this feeling, and endorsed the quality of work undertaken by the Team.  They take pride in their work, and every task is completed to the best possible standard.

Councillor Langmead thanked the Maintenance team for their great work, and said how difficult it was to get a contribution from Devon County Council towards this work.  He asked the Town Clerk about the de-weeding of the riverbank with specialist equipment, and wondered whether this could in fact be the responsibility of the Environment Agency.  The Town Clerk advised that she had sought (and received) permission from Devon County Council for the Maintenance Team to undertake this work, and in fact Devon County Council had paid for the specialist equipment required.

Councillor A Inch emphasised the importance of the different tiers of Council working together in harmony to get work done.  He also asked that Members report any safety defects on line.

Councillor Wootton commended Councillor Bushby on the Maintenance Team initiative, especially as he felt that local prioritisation of work was most effective.

Councillor Mrs Craigie felt that more and more work would be left for Town and Parish Councils and advised of her protracted experience with getting the Chubb road bus shelter fixed, for which Devon County Council had no budget. She said that Devon County Council will be asking us to adopt the bus shelters.  Councillor Mrs Craigie said that the Maintenance Team are much  appreciated, but that the Town Council will have to keep raising council tax, and this can be a very heavy burden on some parishioners. Devon County Council need to tell government that there is not enough money in Devon, as we can only do so much with the resources available.

Members then discussed the idea of a property committee that the team could report to, and the possibility of looking after Victoria Park. Councillor Christie warned that he had seen the figures for the park maintenance, and the running costs are high.

The Town Clerk advised that the benches along the Quay need refurbishing, and asked if the Committee would support the Maintenance Team undertaking this task.  Councillor Howell felt it may be more cost effective to ask a contractor to do this work.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor S Inch and

RESOLVED:  That The Maintenance Team refurbish the benches along the Quay, once permission from Torridge District Council / Devon County Council has been granted.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

Proposed by Councillor Wootton, seconded by Councillor Inch and

RESOLVED:  That The meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

160.    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: 9, Against: 0)

161.    CITIZEN’S AWARD 

There is a confidential minute associated with this item.

162.    Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded Pester and

RESOLVED: That The Meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote – For  9,  Against: 0)

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at  8.50 pm.

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