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Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee - 5 January 20243

Written by Claire Parsons. Posted in Staffing, Finance & Gen. Purposes Minutes

Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 05 January 2023 at 6.30 pm
 
PRESENT:
 
North Ward:
 
Councillor D Bushby (Chairman)
Councillor P Christie
 
South Ward:
 
Councillor S Inch
Councillor P Lawrence
 
East Ward:
 
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J McKenzie
 
West Ward:
 
Councillor Hawkins
 
 
IN ATTENDANCE:
 
Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
 
077. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
 
There were no apologies for absence.
 
078. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION
 
There were no declarations of interest.
 
079. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION
 
No Members of the Public were present at the meeting.
 
080. MINUTES
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby and seconded by Councillor McKenzie, the minutes of the meeting held on 1 December 2022 were approved and signed as a correct record.  
 
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 0, Abstentions: 2)
 
081. CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS
 
The Town Clerk advised that the Mace Bearer had previously been authorised to take her robe and tricorn to Wootton Bassett to lead the Macebearers Guild in the Parade. This event was cancelled due to Covid.  The Mace Bearer would now like permission to take her robe and tricorn to attend  the Macebearers handover and investiture of the new Prime Warden, in Margate, Kent.  Members were happy to grant this request.
 
The Deputy Town Clerk has been dealing with the construction company who damaged the bench outside the Art centre on the Quay.  They have been unable to repair it and have offered £950 as compensation for Bideford Town Council to source and install a new bench. Members were concerned that this sum may not be sufficient to provide a like for like bench, and asked the Town Clerk to investigate the cost of a bench which would match the original, and look very similar to the adjacent bench, in order to preserve the aesthetics.
 
Members expressed concern about the crack in the paving of the Port Memorial which had been caused by the heavy machinery using the Port Memorial as an access route for the works being carried out at the Art centre.  The Town Clerk advised that she had been in touch with the Company and that they had apologised, assured her that they would not use the Port Memorial for access in future, and would replace the paving slab.  The Chairman advised that when the works to the Art Centre had first begun, Devon County Council had asked permission to use the Port Memorial for access and this had been refused by the Town Council out of concern for damage to the Port Memorial.
 
The Chairman raised the issue of the Christmas lights at Quay 22 in Bideford.  Allegations have been made that the lights wrapped around their canopy and columns are owned by Bideford Town Council, with the electricity also being taken from the Town Council supply.  This is categorically not the case.  The lights were purchased by Quay 22 from DS Electrical to match the Town Council lights, and the electricity is supplied by Quay 22.  There is a connecting cable coming from the large adjacent tree.  This is a signal cable which  operates the coil of a contactor thus energising the lights and ensuring that they come on at the same time as the Town Council lights. The ownership and set up of these lights has been clearly explained by DS Electrical.  The Mayor asked that the Town Clerk writes to DS Electrical expressing concern at the considerable mis-information circulating about the ownership of the lights and the electricity source, and thanking them for their patience in explaining the situation on a number of occasions.
 
(Councillor Mrs Hellyer arrived at the meeting).
 
082.    ACCOUNTS 
 
Members received the list of payments.
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie and 
 
RESOLVED:  That the list of payments is approved.
 
(Vote – For: 7, Against: 1)
 
083. FORD WOODS
 
The Town Clerk advised that two quotations were expected but had not yet been received, due to the original survey document having been delayed.  She asked for delegated authority to select the contractor once the quotations are received as the work needs to be carried out before the nesting season.
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and
 
RESOLVED:  That delegated authority is given to the Town Clerk, Mayor and Chairman of SFGP to select the contractor once the quotations are received, provided that the sum falls within the parameters of the budget.
 
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0) 
 
084. MANOR COURT SPEAKER GIFT
 
The Town Clerk advised that the Town Council had purchased a personalised gift for the Manor Court speaker who was due to speak in 2021, but the event had been cancelled due to Covid.  The same speaker was due to attend Manor Court in 2023, and could be presented with the gift, albeit it stated Manor Court speaker 2021.  The Town Clerk felt that an additional, complimentary item could be commissioned which stated the correct date.
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby seconded and
 
RESOLVED:  That the additional gift is purchased.
 
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
 
085. 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 McKenzie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer  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: 7, Against 1)
 
086. REPLACEMENT SKI TRAINER
 
Members considered the revised quotation for the replacement ski-trainer.  They felt that the carriage on the equipment (from Poland) was prohibitively expensive and asked the Town Clerk to look at sourcing an alternative piece of equipment from the UK. (This does not necessarily need to be a ski trainer, but should not be a duplicate of any equipment that is already in situ).
 
Proposed by Councillor  Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb  and
 
RESOLVED: That further research into an alternative, UK sourced piece of gym equipment is undertaken.
 
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
 
87.     MAINTENANCE OPERATIVES
 
Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives and noted the report.  
 
Councillor Christie questioned the work undertaken in Riverside Court as he felt this was in Northam.  The Town Clerk said she would check and come back to him.
 
The Town Clerk advised that the team have used up the full allocation of salt provided by Devon County Council, and would like to order a further 2 tonnes at a cost of £161.75 per tonne pallet of 25kg bags.
 
Proposed by Councillor  Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Hellyer  and
 
RESOLVED: That two tonnes of 25kgs salt bags are purchased from Devon County Council.
 
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
 
88 BUDGET 2023/2025
 
The Town Clerk presented the draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2023/2024. 
 
Member discussed the budget for the Maintenance Team building, in the light of the current cost of inflation.  The Chairman advised that he was keeping an eye on the costs and had discussed this with the Construction and Design company who had provided the initial design specification and costings. Although the build costs have increased since the original quotation, they are still within budget.
 
Members discussed the ring-fenced funds.  Following discussion it was proposed by Councillor  Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie  and
 
RESOLVED: That the £2,567.75 ringfenced for the One Bideford Project is re-allocated to the Regeneration Project fund as One Bideford is no longer operational.
 
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
 
Members discussed the budget previously agreed for the Public Works Loan in the light of the increased interest repayments and the high rate of inflation since the original resolution by Council in June 2022 to seek  the approval of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for a PWLB loan of £500,000 over the borrowing term of 25 years for the purpose of building a Maintenance Team Depot. It was agreed that the recommendation to Full Council should be renewed given the change in the repayment rates and the alterations to the draft budget document since the original resolution in June 2022.
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor  Inch and 
 
RECOMMENDED: That the approval of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government is sought to apply for a Public Works Loan Body loan of £500,000 over the borrowing term of 25 years for the purpose of building a Maintenance Team Depot. The annual loan repayments will come to approximately £34,485.00.
 
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
 
Following further discussion, a final draft budget was agreed which is attached and forms part of these Minutes.
 
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Christie  and 
 
RECOMMENDED:  That the Council approves the budget of  £593,835.00   which is an increase of 6.87 % (or 13p per week) on a band D, in respect of the Financial Year commencing 1 April 2023.  The Council’s reserves will remain at £130,000.00.
 
(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 7.12 pm.
 
Draft Budget for FY 2023 2024 Pg1
Draft Budget for FY 2023 2024 Pg2
 
Table of Accounts for approval at SFGP Meeting 5 January 2023

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