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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 10 January 2019 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward:

Councillor D Bushby
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor P J Pester

South Ward:

Councillor S G Inch (Chairman)
Councillor R Wootton

East Ward:

Councillor M Langmead
Councillor Mrs R Craigie (Substitute for Councillor D G Brenton)

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor A T Inch
2 x Members of the Public

077.      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor D Brenton (South ward, Personal), Councillor D Howell (South (Outer) ward, Personal) and Councillor D McGeough (North Ward, Personal).

078.      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION

There were no declarations of interest at this point.

079.      PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

The Members of the public representing the New Year’s Eve organising Committee and Phatdog Events spoke about their grant allocation for New Year’s Eve, and the impact this would have on both the day time and evening events and the infrastructure required.

080.      MINUTES

Proposed by Councillor Langmead and seconded by Councillor Pester, the minutes of the meeting held on 29 November 2018 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 6, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

081.      CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

The Town Clerk reported that six candidates have been shortlisted for the position of Maintenance Operative and that the interviews have been scheduled for Friday 11 January.

The Town Clerk advised that she had received a letter asking for nominations to the Queen’s Garden Party, and it was agreed that the Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor and Mrs Bushby would be nominated.

082.     ACCOUNTS

a.         Members received the list of payments.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Langmead 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 2018 – 2019.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the Council’s Interim Independent Auditor’s Report for the Financial Year 2018-2019 is noted.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

(A vote of thanks was given to Councillor P Pester for his work towards a successful interim audit.)

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

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, 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)

083.    GRANTS ALLOCATION MEETINGS

Members discussed moving the date of future grant allocation meetings to after the January meeting when the annual precept has been agreed and make a recommendation to Council.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That future grant allocations meetings are scheduled to take place following the January Town Council meeting once the annual precept has been resolved.
(It was agreed that this change of date should be advertised well in advance).

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

084.     MANOR COURT PRESENTMENTS

Presentment Number: 3 – A Changing Places facility in Bideford for those who are disabled, or wheelchair bound This enables families with a member who is incontinent to be changed with dignity in a dry housing with the necessary equipment and facilities. Currently in Bideford the options are to either not go out for the day in the Town or change the person on the floor. We request this Council writes to Torridge District Council and Atlantic Village requesting future plans for such a facility.

The Town Clerk advised that Torridge District Council had responded that they have looked at converting the store next to the toilet block in Victoria Park to a changing places facility, but that it is not large enough. They have suggested that this may be something the Burton or the Friends Group could consider when making future plans. The Head of Shared Service will mention this to them. Councillor Craigie suggested an area within the Town Hall building could be converted but Members felt it was beyond the means of Bideford Town Council to do this as a standalone project. It was agreed to leave this presentment on the list to await a response from the Burton, although Members felt that realistically it may not be possible to achieve this Presentment in the near future.

Presentment Number: 5 – That the Council investigates installing Recycling bins for Plastic on the quay for cyclists, runners, visitors to deposit their empty bottles etc. and that this council investigates the possibility of installing hygienic water fountains in Victoria Park and on Bideford Quay with Plastic recycling bins nearby to show support for the campaign to stop using plastics.

Councillor Christie advised that the installation of the water fountain was on the next Market Management agenda. It was agreed to await the outcome of this meeting.

085.     BEADLE FOR MAYOR AND MAYORESS’ CHAINS

The Town Clerk advised that she had spoken with Zurich Insurance regarding occasional use of the chains should no beadle be available. Zurich Insurance had advised that this it is acceptable for the Mayor to take responsibility for the Chains on an occasional basis.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That the Mayor and Mayoress are able to take responsibility for the Chains, should no Beadle be available. The Town Clerk was asked to check with Zurich whether this would include taking the chains out of the country or whether additional insurance would be required.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

086.     BIDEFORD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Members considered the quotation for the bracket pull testing, repair, installation and dismantling of the Christmas Lights. Members were concerned at the additional cost incurred by the Devon County Council requirement to remove the lights each year from the trees, and then replace them the following Christmas. Councillor Bushby advised that he and the Town Clerk had a meeting scheduled with senior Devon County Council officers and that they would raise this question. The committee requested that The Town Clerk and The Mayor explore the possibility of taking over the ownership of the trees on the Quay and those in front of the Pannier Market with the Devon County Council Officers. The Chairman noted that regular tree surveys would be required, should the Town Council assume ownership of these trees.
The Town Clerk was asked why there were no Christmas lights at the East-The-Water end of the bridge this year. She did not know, but will make enquiries.

(Councillor Christie left the meeting).

(Councillor A Inch arrived at the meeting).

Councillor A Inch noted that Bridge street has no Christmas lights (at this point he declared a non-pecuniary interest as he lives in the street) and said that should lights be installed, he may be prepared to contribute to the electricity supply.

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RECOMMENDED: That DS Electrical continues to install, pull test, repair, maintain and dismantle the Christmas lights under the current arrangement and in accordance with their quotation.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the Town Clerk submits a TAP Fund application towards the cost of additional Christmas lights and the expansion of the scheme.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

087.    BIDEFORD NEW YEAR’S EVE

The Town Clerk and Mayor provided Members with feedback following an informal meeting with the organisers of the New Year’s Eve Celebrations and Phatdog Events. The Committee considered their request to attend a future meeting to discuss the costings for next year’s event and their concerns about the reduction in grant funding. Members discussed which elements of the Celebrations had worked well, and overall concluded that the Magical Moments at the Pannier Market had been very successful. Members felt that the road closure on the Quay could have been started later than 2.00 pm, and observed that the Quay was not busy in the early evening. Councillor Bushby stated however that if a grant is given for the fireworks, provision should also be made for the safety aspects of the event.

Members wished to ask Mr Kersey from Phatdog Events about the Magical Moments event, and moved to suspend Standing Orders:

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Wootton and

RESOLVED: That Standing Orders are suspended to allow Mr Kersey (Phatdog Events) and Mrs Edwards (New Year’s Eve Organising committee) to speak on this agenda item.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

Councillor Mrs Gubb asked whether Mr Kersey is on the New Years Eve Committee, and if not, what is his role? Mr Kersey advised that he is subcontracted and given a budget to put on the Magical Moments event. He advised that he is able to call in favours to make the event cost effective. Mrs Edwards advised that the entertainers on the Quay in the afternoon of New Year’s Eve gave their time for free.

Members discussed the timings of the road closure – which had been scheduled for 2.00 pm following advice from Highways. Mr Kersey said he wouldn’t like the road closure to start any later than 5.00 pm as he dresses as Coco the Clown and leads people from the Pannier Market to the Quay at this time.

Councillor A Inch advised that at future events, it needs to be widely advertised that the Town Council make a grant contribution towards the event. Mr Kersey advised that this was announced regularly during the event, and The Town Council had been publicly thanked for their contribution via social media, following the event.

Councillor A Inch asked for a breakdown of the costs of Magical Moments and Mr Kersey identified his costs.

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Pester and

RESOLVED: That The meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That Representatives from the New Year’s Eve Organising Committee and Phatdog Events are invited to the next SFGP meeting with a view to discussing and reviewing their grant application. Mr Kersey and Mrs Edwards were asked to bring a detailed breakdown of their costs, particularly those for the Magical Moments events.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

088.       10 x GREENER GARDENER

Members considered a request from the District Council to engage the 10 x greener gardener on a self-employed basis (grant funded) via the Town Council.

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That Bideford Town Council support the engagement of the 10 x greener gardener on a self-employed basis (grant funded) via the Town Council provided that The Economic Development Officer from Torridge District Council leads the project and manages the Gardener.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

089.      DISABILITY AND WHEELCHAIR FRIENDLY SWINGS

Members received the response from the Bridge Trust on a possible financial contribution and information from Councillor Brenton regarding his enquiry with DALC. The Town Clerk advised that she had not been able to identify a piece of equipment which did not have a removable ramp, which required secure safekeeping in between usage. She had corresponded with Pathfields, who had advised which wheelchair friendly swings they had, but these were used in secure premises. The Town Clerk suggested that a basket swing or wheel chair friendly roundabout may be a more manageable alternative for a public space. Councillor A Inch felt that further endeavours should be made, and the search for a wheelchair friendly swing should not be abandoned. Councillor Bushby said the Committee were not abandoning the project but that there is currently not an identified piece of equipment which fits the need. He offered to contact Northam Lodge to take further advice.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

RESOLVED: That the project is re-visited once a suitable piece of equipment has been identified.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

090.      MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

a.          Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives and noted the report. They remarked that the team continued to do an excellent job.

b.          Members considered what action to take with the Devon County Council owned bench on the corner of Park Lane and Chanters Road which needs replacing. Councillor Bushby suggested that it is replaced with a wrought iron bench, which will last a long time.

c.          Councillor A Inch suggested that in the first instance Bideford Town Council asks Devon County Council to replace the bench. If this is rejected, then Bideford Town Council should ask the Ward County Council Councillor Linda Hellyer to pay for a new bench from her County Council grant fund.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That the Town Clerk writes to Devon County Council and asks them to replace the bench and if this fails that County Councillor Linda Hellyer is asked to grant fund a replacement bench.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

Members considered the provision of a debit card or a petty cash float for use by the Maintenance Operative Supervisor.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That The Maintenance Supervisor is provided with a debit card with a float of £100.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

091.      BUDGET 2019/2020

The Town Clerk presented the draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2019/2020.

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. She advised that a 4.98% increase would only cover the very basic annual expenses and would not allow for any project cost money. This would rely on grant funding, and perhaps moving some money from earmarked reserves. Members felt that this would not allow the Town Council to move forward with projects, and that the precept amount should be increased. In monetary terms the actual cost per householder is very modest. A 4.98% increase equates to 8p per week per household, when assessed on a band D property. A 9.98% increase equates to 15p per week per household, when assessed on a band D property. 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 Bushby, seconded by Councillor Pester and

RECOMMENDED: That the Council approves the budget of £461,278.00 which is an increase of 9.98% (or 15p per week) on a band D, in respect of the Financial Year commencing 1 April 2019. The increased revenue is to be allocated to the Projects Budget, with a portion of this being used to fund a Community Warden. The Council’s reserves will remain at £130,000.00.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

092.     PART II CLOSED SESSION

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Craigie and

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

(Vote For: 6, Against: 0)

093.     AWARD OF TOWN COUNCIL PLAQUE

There is a confidential minute associated with this item.

094.    Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded by Councillor Langmead and

RESOLVED: That the meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote For: 5, Against: 0)

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 8.45 pm.

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