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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 09 January 2020 at 6.30 pm

PRESENT:

North Ward: Councillor D Bushby (Chairman)
Councillor D McGeough

South Ward: Councillor R Wootton

East Ward:

Councillor J Craigie (substitute for Councillor R Craigie)
Councillor Mrs J Gubb (Vice-Chairman)
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J McKenzie

West Ward: Councillor D Ratcliff

IN ATTENDANCE:

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R Passmore (Chamber of Commerce)

091.      APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor P Christie (North Ward, Meeting), Councillor R Craigie, (East Ward, illness).

092.      DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION

Councillor D Bushby declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 7 (Member of the Chamber of Commerce Executive.)

093.      PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

There were no members of the public present at the meeting.

094.      MINUTES

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Gubb and seconded by Councillor Ratcliff, the minutes of the meeting held on 28 November 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)

095.     CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

No items to report.

096.     ACCOUNTS

a.        Members received the list of payments.

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded by Councillor Craigie and

RESOLVED: That the list of payments is approved.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

b.        Members received and approved the Council’s interim Independent Auditor’s Report for the Financial Year 2019 – 2020.

Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded by Councillor McGeough and

RESOLVED: That the Council’s Interim Independent Auditor’s Report for the Financial Year 2019-2020 is noted.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

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

Proposed by Councillor Bushby , seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb 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: 8, Against: 0)

097.     PRESENTATION ON PROPOSED CHAMBER HUB

Mr Rob Passmore presented the proposed on-line Chamber of Commerce Hub. He said that the key to this is to create an impact across the whole region. The membership of the Chamber of Commerce has declined over recent years, and this is to kick start its revitalisation, make businesses more visible and create sales for Members. The membership in the first year will be via a donor card approach. All businesses in the catchment area will automatically receive free Membership for the first 12 months unless they choose to opt out. Going forward there will be different levels of membership which will allow different levels of visibility. The Chamber of Commerce have put together a budget for the set up and running costs for the first 12 months which amounts to £10,000. The Chamber of Commerce will be contributing £5,000 from their reserves, Torridge District Council £2,000 and £3,000 is required to fill the funding gap. The Hub will become self-financing in the future and should make a profit. It is designed to help local businesses.

The following questions and issues were raised by Members:

• How will local businesses benefit?
o They will receive exposure via the website, mentoring, workshops and expert advice. There will be an annual awards programme to build more awareness around excellence of business in the area.

• Bideford Town Council has received many presentations from the Chamber of Commerce over the years. In the past there has been some apathy and part time opening from retailers in town. How will this issue be overcome?
o Mr Passmore acknowledged some evidence of lifestyle businesses, but advised that the Chamber of Commerce is not just focussed on retail – the hub will benefit all businesses in the area. The aim is not to replicated what is already being done by other organisations.

• Will the second year revenue be generated from people who opt in?
o Yes and there is already a lot of traction via social media.

• If the Town Council gives funding towards the hub, how will this benefit the tax payer? How can the Committee justify spending taxpayers money? Why not ask all businesses in the area for a contribution?
o The Chamber of Commerce is concerned that at this stage the take up amongst members would be low due to previous experience of Chamber Operations. If you increase success of business locally it will also help the residents, and provide more employment. Councillor Bushby added that there are a lot of volunteers who give freely of their time for the good of the Chamber of Commerce.

• Have the Chamber of Commerce approached any of the other parishes in EX39 to support this?
o Yes

Councillor McKenzie advised that he didn’t feel The Town Council should be supporting private business.

(Councillor McGeough declared a non-pecuniary interest (has given funds from his Torridge District Councillor grant towards the hub.)

There were two proposals:

Proposed by Councillor McGeough, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and

RECOMMENDED: That £1,750 is provided towards funding the Chamber of Commerce Hub.

(Vote For: 6, Against: 2) This proposal was taken first and carried.

It was agreed that this would be taken from the project budget.

The alternative proposal was:

Proposed by Councillor McKenzie, seconded by Councillor that no funding is provided towards funding the Chamber of Commerce Hub.

098.      FUNDING REQUEST

Members considered a funding request from a student at Bideford College towards a trip to Uganda in association with Bideford College’s primary charity Edukid.

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Gubb, seconded by Councillor Craigie and

RESOLVED: That the sum of £150 is awarded to the Bideford College student to assist with funding the trip.

(Vote: For: 8, Against: 0)

Members suggested that the Bideford College Students who visit Uganda, may wish to come and talk to the Town Council about their trip, on their return.

099.     MANOR COURT PRESENTMENTS

Presentment Number 1:

“That this Council looks at a feature to celebrate Charles Kingsley’s 200th birthday and his book “The Water Babies” with a small art installation on the plinth of the statue and to write to TDC for permission to carry this through.”

The Town Clerk advised that Maggie Curtis had agreed to make a circular plaque from the illustration chosen from the “The Water Babies” in line with the quotation. She would provide some colour wash samples in due course.

Presentment Number 2:

“For this Council to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day with an engraved stone or plaque near the War Memorial.”

The Town Clerk advised that permission had not yet been granted from Torridge District Council for an additional stone, but that she and Councillor Bushby would be meeting with TDC officers the following day to discuss moving the Memorial and an additional stone.

100.      BIDEFORD CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Members considered the quotations for the bracket pull testing, repair, installation and dismantling, and provision of new Christmas Lights provided by DS Electrical. The committee discussed whether alternative quotations were required, and agreed it would be in order to waive the financial regulations given the extremely specialist nature of the tasks required. This exercise in past years yielded only one quotation, which exceeded the current quotation.

Proposed by Councillor Craigie, seconded by Councillor Bushby and

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

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

101.      VE DAY 75

Members received an update from the Tourism Committee.

The Town Clerk asked Members to consider putting a sum in the budget to support the event. Funds will be needed for a road closure, food at the Pannier Market and entertainment.

Proposed by Councillor Craigie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer and

RECOMMENDED: That the provision of £3,500 is put in the budget for the VE Day 75 event.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

102.      FOAM STREAM DEMONSTRATION

Members considered the information and costings provided and discussed whether to pursue the purchase of this machinery for the purpose of removing weeds and bubble gum.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Craigie and

RESOLVED: That Bideford Town Council do not proceed with the purchase of this machinery. The Maintenance Team will continue with the current method of removing weeds, whilst continuing to look for alternatives to glyphosate based weed-killers.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0, abstention: 1)

103.      NORDIC DEMONSTRATION

Members considered the information and costings and discussed whether to pursue the purchase of this service.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and

RESOLVED: That Bideford Town Council do not proceed with the purchase of this service.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0, abstention: 1)

Councillor Mrs Hellyer offered to show the Highway’s Officer the area which needs cleaning.

104.      DAMAGED LAMPPOST

The Town Clerk advised that further to the email correspondence circulated, Devon County Council had now claimed ownership of the damaged lamp post outside Bridge Buildings, which houses the Town Council owned festoon lighting. They have agreed to repair it.

105.      MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES

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.#

Councillor Ratcliff advised that Geneva Place has been weedy for some time and needs attention. The Town Clerk said she would chase it up.

106.      SHARED PROJECT OFFICER DEVELOPMENT ROLE

Members considered whether a shared Project/Development Office role would be beneficial to the Town Council.

Proposed by Councillor Mckenzie, seconded by Councillor Hellyer and

RECOMMENDED: That the role of the Development Officer due to be employed by the Bideford Pannier Market is expanded to include one day’s employment per week by Bideford Town Council.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

The Town Clerk advised that a new computer would need to be purchased for the Town Council offices to accommodate this role. This was agreed by Members.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mckenzie and

RECOMMENDED: That the recruitment panel consists of Councillors Bushby, Mrs Gubb, McKenzie and the Town Clerk.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

107.      BUDGET 2020/2021

The Town Clerk presented the draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2020/2021.

Following discussion a final draft budget was agreed which is attached and forms part of these Minutes.

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Hellyer and

RECOMMENDED: That the Council approves the budget of £ 512,232.16 which is an increase of 7.5 % (or 13 p per week) on a band D, in respect of the Financial Year commencing 1 April 2020. The Council’s reserves will remain at £130,000.00.

(Vote For: 4, Against: 3, Abstentions: 1)

108.      PART II CLOSED SESSION

Proposed by Councillor Bushby, 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: 8 Against: 0)

109.      STAFFING
There is a confidential minute associated with this item.

110 Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie 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 8.20 pm.


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