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Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 06 January 2022 at 6.30 pm
North Ward:
Councillor D Bushby (Chairman)
Councillor P Christie
South Ward:
Councillor P Lawrence
East Ward:
Councillor J Craigie (Substitute for Cllr Mrs R Craigie).
Councillor Mrs J Gubb (Vice-Chairman)
Councillor J McKenzie
West Ward:
Councillor Mrs K Corfe
Councillor D Ratcliff
Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Councillor S Inch
4 x Members of the Public.
Councillor Mrs R Craigie (East Ward – illness)
There were no declarations of interest.
No Members of the Public wished to speak at this point.
Proposed by Councillor Christie and seconded by Councillor Craigie, the minutes of the meeting held on 2 December 2021 were approved and signed as a correct record.  
(Vote – For: 7, Against: 0, Abstention: 1)
The Chairman advised that he had discussed the Manor Court Ceremony with the Town Clerk and given the current Covid situation, it may be prudent to regretfully cancel the ceremony.  He asked the Town Clerk to explain further.
The Town Clerk advised that the rising number of Covid 19 cases, and the necessity to isolate, could make the logistics of the ceremony very difficult if either the staff, speaker or Jurors needed to isolate at the last minute.  Consideration should also be given as to whether to hold an indoor event given the rising levels of Covid 19 and the very transmissible variants.  The Council’s Covid risk assessment will require seated guests to wear face coverings and attendees to provide evidence of negative covid test before the Ceremony.  Logistically there will be difficulties with space, especially when seating the Jurors.
The Pannier Market was suggested as a venue, but disregarded as Manor Court takes place on a Saturday,  which is a market day.
Committee Members agreed that this should be placed on the Town Council agenda with a view to cancelling the ceremony for 2022.
089.    ACCOUNTS 
Members received the list of payments.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and 
RESOLVED:  That the list of payments is approved.
(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)
Members received and approved the Council’s interim Independent Auditor’s Report for the period 1 April – 30 September 2021.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Christie and
RESOLVED:  That the Council’s Interim Independent Auditor’s Report for the period 1 April – 30 September 2021 is noted. 
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0) 
Members reviewed the recommendation made at the SFGP meeting on the 2 December 2021 “That there is an open invitation for the Veterans to lead the Remembrance Sunday Parade from the Town Hall and back again on Remembrance Sunday”  following the request from Full Council in the light of information brought forward by the Town Marshal and Council Members. There was a full discussion which included the following points:
• The Town Council should ask the views of other organisations and veterans.
• The original decision should stand as it went forward on a majority vote.
• Further information/opinions had come forward following the SFGP meeting decision which had altered the view of some Members.
• Discussion as to whether Remembrance Sunday is a civic or military event.
• The veterans do lead on the way back from Victoria Park and then the Mayor takes the salute.  
• There has been mixed feedback from different parties.
It was then proposed by Councillor Craigie and seconded by Councillor Christie for Standing Orders to be suspended in order for Members of the Public to speak.
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0) 
A Member of the public addressed the meeting and spoke about:
• The Code of Conduct
• He said the Town Marshall had only contacted 2 associations – there are 50.
• Feedback had only been elicited to confirm the current position. He spoke of an Echo Chamber, where like minded views are repeated back for bias confirmation. He said there was a lack of integrity and due diligence.
• He spoke about the purpose of Remembrance Sunday, and who was being honoured, as well as the proceedings in London where the Royal party do not march or proceed.
Members continued the discussion with the following comments:
• There are mixed opinions, and the local people need to be canvassed for their view.  The Town Marshall has been the backbone of Remembrance Sunday.
• The difference between a parade and procession.
• Which organisations do the Members of the public (present at the meeting) represent when expressing their views on behalf of others? (The Member of the Public said he was a serving member of the military but not representing any one organisation.)
• If the veterans lead the parade back, who will they salute?
It was then proposed by Councillor Bushby and seconded by Councillor Christie that the meeting return to Standing Orders.
(Vote For: 7, Against: 1) 
Councillor Craigie suggested that Remembrance Sunday takes place this year as recommended at the last SFGP Committee to see whether this makes for a better or worse event.
• Concern was raised at the knock-on effect of making this change.  The plan for the whole event would need to be changed.
• One Members said that the Mayor represents the Councillors and the Queen.  It would not be correct protocol for the Councillors to march in front of the Mayor.
Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and
RECOMMENDED:  That a letter is drawn up and that as many veteran organisations are contacted as possible to find out their views on the order of the parade.  The Town Clerk will put together the wording with the Chairman and this will be circulated to Members of the SFGP and The Member of the Public (who can help with contacts for veteran organisations). A decision on the format of the parade will be made once further information is available. 
(Vote For: 5, Against: 3) 
092.    FORD WOODS
Members considered fixed the price quotations for the arboricultural work identified.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Ratcliff and
RESOLVED:  That Hoopers Tree Surgeons are selected to undertake the work required in Ford Woods.
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
The Town Clerk advised that in previous years a local business owner had purchased the hanging baskets for the whole of Cooper Street.  However, due to the pandemic, he had not done so last year, and the Town Council had stepped in and organised the baskets via Welcome Back funding.    The Town Clerk has asked about his intentions for this year, and he has advised that he will be purchasing baskets for his own properties this year, but not for the properties he does not own.
Members agreed to purchase the remaining baskets for Cooper Street.
The Town Clerk advised that the Council does not currently hold a licence for these baskets, but would make the application.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Mrs Gubb and
RESOLVED:  That the Council will purchase the required number of baskets for Cooper Street to ensure that there are baskets along the entire street.
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
The Town Clerk advised that she had been in contact with the TDC Officer regarding the remaining funds in the Welcome Back Fund and the following funding requests had been made:
• Purchase of Chewing Gum removal system.
• A mobile advertising trailer, that we can deploy in Bideford and the outlying areas, to advertise town events, points of interest, retail offer etc.  
• Bus shelter for the taxi rank in the town centre.
• Advertising in the town centre for the Pannier Market, and vice versa.
Only the advertising request has been approved.  The Development Officer will be moving this forward.
The Development Officer and The Town Clerk have a meeting with the TDC Officer next week, where the TDC Officer will share some Best Practice and project ideas, following a meeting that she has attended.  The Town Clerk will continue to liaise with the Mayor and Chair of SFGP to discuss eligible projects.  All expenditure must be spent by 31 March, so time is short.  Members suggested some further possible project ideas as follows:
• Overhead signage in the High Street for the Pannier Market– to be seen from the bottom of the High Street.
• Advertising the Pannier Market on buses.
• A Board advertising.
• A party in the Pannier Market to replace the New Year’s Eve party which had to be cancelled.
• A cover for the paddling pool in the park.
Members considered the quotations options received for the underbridge lighting. 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.  It was suggested that Red Earth, who are developing Brunswick Wharf may be willing to make a contribution to the lighting, as their properties will overlook the Longbridge.
Proposed by Councillor Christie seconded by Councillor McKenzie and
RECOMMENDED:  That Option 3 is accepted and that Red Earth are asked to make a contribution towards the cost of the replacement lighting.
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
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 Christie, seconded by Councillor Mckenzie 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: 0, Abstention 1)
Members considered the request from the Community Action on Empty Homes Working Group for a budget of £300 to facilitate a search on empty properties.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor Gubb and
RESOLVED:  That a budget of £300 to facilitate a search on empty properties is agreed.
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
Members considered the resolution from the Town Council meeting of 12 August 2021 that: The SF&GP Committee investigate using a proportion of the reserves to invest in a cooperative housing opportunity.
Councillor Craigie explained that Local Authorities are investing in Co-operative Housing Opportunities to enable Co-operatives to set up.  There are currently no Co-operatives in Bideford, but an allocation of funds may help encourage Co-operatives to set up. 
The Chairman suggested that as Torridge District Council are the Local Authority, this function should really fall to them.  He suggested however that if a scheme is looking to set up in the local area, Bideford Town Council could consider investment, at the point of set up. 
Members considered the adoption of a Social Media Policy.
Proposed by Councillor Lawrence, seconded by Councillor Christie and
RESOLVED:  That the draft Social Media Policy is not adopted.
(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)
Members considered the purchase of new curtains for the Mayor’s Parlour.
Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded by Councillor Bushby and
RESOLVED:  That the proposed new curtains for the Mayor’s Parlour are approved.
(Vote For: 5, Against: 3)
Members received an update on the tasks undertaken by the Maintenance Operatives and noted the report.  
The Town Clerk was asked to thank them for the excellent work they do around the town.
102. BUDGET 2022/2023
The Town Clerk presented the draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2022/2023. 
Following discussion, a final draft budget was agreed which is attached and forms part of these Minutes.
Proposed by Councillor Bushby, seconded by Councillor McKenzie and 
RECOMMENDED:  That the Council approves the budget of £ 551,805.55   which is an increase of 4.87 % (or 9p per week) on a band D, in respect of the Financial Year commencing 1 April 2022.  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 8.20 pm.

Table showing Page 1 of Bideford Town Council draft budget for Financial Year 2022_2023
Table showing Page 2 of Bideford Town Council draft budget for Financial Year 2022_2023
Table showing Page 3 of Bideford Town Council draft budget for Financial Year 2022_2023
 Table of Accounts for approval at SFGP Meeting 6 January 2022


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