Extra Ordinary Town Council Minutes 28 April 2020

Written by Claire Parsons. Posted in Town Council Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the Extra Ordinary Town Council Meeting held via Zoom, on Tuesday 28 April 2020 at 6.00 pm
North Ward: 
Councillor P S Christie (Town Mayor)
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor D McGeough
Councillor J Herron
South Ward: 
Councillor Mrs S Langford
Councillor P Lawrence
West Ward:
Councillor Mrs K Corfe
Councillor C Hawkins
Councillor D Ratcliff
East Ward:
Councillor J Craigie
Councillor Mrs R Craigie
Councillor Mrs J Gubb
Councillor Mrs L Hellyer
Councillor J A McKenzie
Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Mr R D Coombes (Deputy Town Clerk)
Mrs L Dixon-Chatfield
4 x Member of the Public
Councillor T Johns (North Ward – personal).
Councillor J Craigie declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 11. (Trustee, Bideford Foodbank). 
No public members participated.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 5 March 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record.
(Vote – For: 13 Against: 0)
Councillor Lawrence noted that item 10, distribution of Annual Cheques, could impact upon the List of Payments’ Approval.
It was proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and
RESOLVED:  That the List of Payments be approved after Item 10 has been resolved upon.
(Vote – For: 13 Against: 0)
a.      The Town Clerk advised Members that new legislation has extended the timing of when the Annual Town Council Meeting could be held.  Ordinarily restricted to the month of May, the holding period has been extended to May 2021.
NALC had advised against a “Zoom” meeting; the Clerk suggested that the present Chairmanship and Committees makeup remain the same until a “face to face”, public meeting or improved zoom participation, given the complication of said meeting.
b.      The Mayor advised that TDC had elected not to change the Chairman / Leader for another year.
The Mayor asked Members to indicate their support for the status quo; they were unanimous in agreeing to continue with the current Chairmanship and Committee representation.
c.      A member of Probus had suggested to the Mayor that the Council organise a thanksgiving, post COVID-19, Event in the Park.
Members had received detail for consideration prior to the Meeting of an Addendum to Standing Orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which the Town Clerk explained:
• Process for holding meetings during the Covid19 Crisis restricted movement and social distancing measures:
For the duration of this period, meetings will be held remotely via Zoom, or another similar platform.  Councillors unable to access Zoom may participate via telephone.
• Urgent Business which cannot wait for a virtual meeting during the Covid19 Crisis restricted movement and social distancing measures.
Any decision which is, in the opinion of the Town Mayor or Committee Chairman too urgent to await the next appropriate virtual meeting, and cannot wait for the calling of a special meeting, the following procedure may be followed:
o A clear statement of the decision required, together with relevant background information, shall be circulated in writing to all members of the Council or relevant Committee, seeking their opinion by a specified deadline.
o If, by the specified deadline at least two-thirds of the members of the Council or the relevant Committee have indicated that they would support one particular decision, this may be taken as a reasonable indication of the likely decision at the next appropriate meeting and any necessary action taken accordingly.
o Confirmation of the decision will be sought at the next appropriate meeting.
• Urgent non-controversial Business during the Covid19 Crisis restricted movement and social distancing measures.
Any decision which, in the opinion of the Town Mayor or Committee Chairman and the Town Clerk, is urgent and of a non-controversial nature may be made by the Town Clerk in consultation with the Mayor and Committee Chairman provided that all such decisions are reported to the next meeting of the Council or appropriate Committee for confirmation.  In such cases if local issues are involved then ward members may be included in consultation.
• Delegation of decisions during the Covid19 Crisis restricted movement and social distancing measures.
Where the Council or a Committee is unable to make a decision there and then for whatever reason, it may defer with delegated authority to the Town Clerk in consultation with the Town Mayor or relevant Committee Chairman and or the ward members, subject to any criteria which may be agreed.
Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and
RESOLVED:  That Addendum to Standing Orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (as recorded) is incorporated.
(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0) 
Members confirmed the decision taken on 21 April 2020 to allocate £1,000 to TTVS from the ringfenced One Bideford budget, for emergency funding during the COVID-19 crisis.

Proposed by Councillor Lawrence, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That £1,000.00 is drawn from the ringfenced One Bideford budget and paid to TTVS for emergency funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0) 
(Councillor Bushby joined the Meeting.)
Members had received a report advising:
The Budgetary underspend for the financial year 2019/2020 (once outstanding liabilities have been paid): £10,000.
Budget allocated for 2020/2021 events:
VE Day:                        £3,500
Bideford Fair:               £2,500
Heritage Theatre          £1,000
Cream tea event              £750
Twinning reception         £300
Members discussed:
• the uncertainty of the current climate,
• the cancellation of wider national and local events originally scheduled for later this year,
• the desire to hold monies back as the crises and need demands,
• groups / organisations (still) preparing for the future,
• population demographic,
• shielding.
Proposed by Councillor Lawrence, seconded and 
RESOLVED:  That the £10,000 underspend is earmarked for future COVID-19 demands.  The £3,500 (VE), £750 (Cream Tea) and £300 (Twinning) monies are reallocated to the funds for distribution to assist community groups during the crisis.
(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0) 
Members considered the distribution of the Annual Grant Cheques following the cancellation of the Annual Parish meeting.
The Town Clerk referred Members to the List prepared by the Assistant to the Town Clerk, Mrs Dixon-Chatfield, detailing those allocated grant recipients.  She drew their attention to scheduled and rescheduled events, where costs may have already be incurred, including deposits.  Where the grant is for a specific purpose the recipients can be invited to contact the Council should the activity be cancelled, placed on hold or indeed provision for the funds to be returned when not used.  She indicated caution in withholding funds where monies were not for events.
Members considered those Events that appeared unlikely to take place with suggestions that those organisations should have the fund offers withdrawn. 
Councillor McKenzie advocated committing to the resolution for the grant funding, noting that organisations would still incur costs and that a number of people could suffer should money be withdrawn from those staging events.  The Council should help as much as possible.
Councillor Mrs Craigie suggested that:
1.   Pay those immediately who provide help and food for people.
2.   Sport/culture/leisure should be held under review.
3.   Events.  Keep to one side, cancel for now.  If re-scheduled, pay, as already agreed.
Councillor Mrs Langford urged caution, indicating that funding withdrawal may increase anxiety; (the Council should) ensure the organisations can operate and maintain support.
Councillor Mrs Gubb agreed with Councillor McKenzie, the grant payments had been resolved upon, the Council should honour their payment.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer suggested that payment should not be made for those Events that are unlikely to go ahead, although deposit payments could be reimbursed.
Reference was made to the different circumstances under which the resolution was made and the present climate.
Councillor Bushby noted that £1,700 had been allocated to the Bideford Amateur Rowing Club, for a specific purpose, oars for a new boat.  He intimated that the grant money has been earmarked.  He believed the vast majority of the recipients will need their allocated funding.  He suggested that all payments should be honoured except for those nine specialist events who should be contacted to confirm that their respective event will be taking part this year.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and
RESOLVED:  That the Annual Grant cheques are distributed to the resolved recipient organisations and groups except those organisers responsible for the following
Soap Box         Bike Show                 Music Event
Pipes               Christmas Lights       New Year’s Eve
Regatta            Water Festival           Carnival
who shall receive payment on confirmation of the scheduling of Event or receipt of non-refundable expenditure already incurred.  A letter seeking further information will be sent to the Event organisers and the Town Clerk, Mayor and Chair of SFGP will review the responses with delegated authority to release funds from the sums originally allocated to each organisation if appropriate.
(Vote – For: 12, Against: 2)
Members considered the allocation of the Community Grant provided by Torridge District Council to assist community groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They agreed that following the £738.00 payment to TTVS and the addition of Town Council funding previously earmarked for events now cancelled, they had a budget of £13,000.
It was proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and
RESOLVED:  That £1,500 is paid to the North Devon Foodbank.
(Vote – For: 13, Against: 0, Abstention: 1) 
Members further discussed the merits of the other potential recipients.  It was felt that TTVS would be the most appropriate arbitrator; Councillor Bushby spoke respectfully of their work and organisation.  Councillor Mrs Hellyer asked whether they had the means to distribute funding.
Councillors McGeough and Christie invited Councillor Mrs Hodson, Leader TDC, to address the Meeting on her TTVS knowledge, and Standing Orders were suspended for this item only.
Councillor Mrs Hodson spoke of the relationship with Northam Town Council and TTVS.  She conceded that she did not know the setup for individuals or groups but believed the Council should want to ensure that the monies are targeted to groups in Bideford and that the mechanism is in place before sending funds to TTVS.
Councillor Mrs Craigie believed that a report on TTVS should be provided before committing funds.
Councillor Mrs Hellyer noted that both the Rock Church and the Storehouse were registered charities.  She also added that East the Water School provides hampers to families where children would ordinarily receive school meals.  Bideford College is undertaking a similar initiative through a supermarket voucher scheme. 
Councillor Mrs Hellyer highlighted that there was a real need in the Community, that East the Water was tenth in the national list of deprived children and that a lot of families would feel pressure through loss of jobs and restrictions on income.
Councillor McGeough proposed, and was seconded, payments to: TTVS (£4,000), Storehouse (£500), Rock Church (£500) with the remaining funds to be allocated / used subsequently.
Councillor Bushby proposed, and was seconded, payments to: TTVS (£9,000) with the condition that it would benefit Bideford residents and that £3,000 be held in reserve.
The Chairman invited Members to vote (first for Councillor McGeough’s proposal and secondly for Councillor Bushby’s).
(Vote – For: 8, Against: 5, Abstention: 1) 
(Vote – For: 5, Against: 8, Abstention: 1) 
RESOLVED:  That the Community Grant payments are allocated to: TTVS (£4,000), Storehouse (£500), Rock Church (£500) and that the remaining funds are to be held for future COVID-19 payments.
Councillor Bushby in accepting the majority decision felt it was critical to allocate / spend the monies now.
The Chairman indicated that TTVS should be asked to provide a report on their activities.
Proposed by Councillor Lawrence, seconded and
RESOLVED:  That the Mayor and the Chairman of the SF&GP Committee, in consultation with the Town Clerk, may authorise immediate COVID-19 payments.
(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0) 
Members considered the postponement of the Mayor’s Introduction Ceremony and
Church service scheduled for the 4th and 7th June respectively.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded and
RESOLVED:  That the Mayor Introduction Ceremony and Parade / Church Service
Scheduled for 4 and 7 June, respectively are cancelled.
(Vote – For: 14, Against: 0) 

It was proposed by Councillor Lawrence, seconded and
RESOLVED:  That the List of Payments be approved subject to the conditions of Minute number 192.
(Vote – For: 14 Against: 0)

The business of the meeting having been concluded the Mayor thanked the members for their attendance at the meeting which concluded at 7.52 pm.
Accounts for approval at the Extra Ordinary Town Council Meeting - 28 April 2020
Accounts for appoval EGM 28 April 2020