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Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee - Thursday 4 December 2014 at 6.00 pm



PRESENT:
North Ward:  Councillor Mrs M Fulford, Councillor T Johns, Councillor Mrs E A Brenton
South Ward:  Councillor A T Inch, Councillor S G Inch, Councillor P J Pester (Chairman)
East Ward:   Councillor D M Ratcliff, Councillor R Vanstone

IN ATTENDANCE:   
Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk), Councillor D Fulford, 3x Members of the Public

069.  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor M C Langmead East Ward – (Mayoral Engagement).

070.  DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Prior to the start of the meeting all Members present had requested a Dispensation for agenda item 14 (Consideration of the draft budget) which had been granted.

071.  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

A representative from the Fund Raising Committee of Bideford Rugby Football Club spoke in support of agenda item 9 – (To give consideration to a letter from the Bideford Rugby Club requesting urgent funds.) He advised that the Club was very grateful for the support given by the Town Council over the years and spoke of the improvements that had been made over the years due to fund raising and grants.  He advised that currently urgent funds are required to update the lighting used for training, trim some trees obscuring the lights and to develop a small piece of ground for training use.
Members asked the following questions:

•  What is the position with the all-weather pitch?  Progress is slow, particularly with the dwindling numbers of staff at TDC.
•  Have the improvements to the drainage been successful?  - Yes
•  How many under 16’s are club members? – 300
•  Is there a training charge? – All participants are club Members.

072.  MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 23 October 2014 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For:  7, Against: 0, abstention: 1)
 
073.  CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

•  The Town Clerk updated Members on correspondence that had been received from Saga Law following an incident where a high sided vehicle had damaged one of the town lamp post banners in the summer.  South West Highways had been dealing with the correspondence, but the complainant had decided to re-address himself to the Council via Saga Law.  The Town Clerk had forwarded the correspondence to South West Highways, but a further letter has been received from Saga Law demanding settlement from the Town Council.  Members felt that the liability did not lie with the Town Council and that no payment should be made.  It was suggested that the driver may have been driving without due care and attention, which could be a police matter.

074.  ACCOUNTS

Members received the list of payments.

The following issues were raised:

•  The buffet at the Royal British Legion following Remembrance Sunday did not seem very good value for money.  Members would like to see a letter sent to the RBL advising that an increase in the quality of the buffet is required for next year.

•  The Town Clerk was asked if a better price could be obtained for the BT internet connection.

•  Members commented on the lack of use of the PA system on Remembrance Sunday by the RBL.

Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff seconded and

RESOLVED:  That a letter is sent to the Royal British Legion regarding the quality of this year’s refreshments following the Remembrance Sunday Service.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0) 

Proposed by Councillor A Inch, seconded and 

RESOLVED:  That the list of payments is approved.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0) 

INTERNAL FINANCE INSPECTOR’S REPORT

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Internal Finance Inspector’s Report is noted.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

INTERIM INTERNAL AUDITOR’S REPORT

Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Interim Internal Finance Auditor’s Report is noted.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)

075.  PROJECT UPDATE

Outdoor Fitness Equipment for Victoria Park

The Town Clerk advised that six pieces of outdoor gym equipment and an impact absorbing surface are ready to be ordered and will be located just before the hedge for the bowling green.  Risk assessments and the licence for Victoria Park will be in place prior to installation.  The staff (and any willing councillors) will be trained in how to make a routine inspection and these will take place on a daily basis.  Quarterly inspections will take place at £75 per visit with an annual main inspection also required (still awaiting cost).

Port Memorial

The ground works are progressing well and SEL Clarke have worked with Councillor Christie and The Town Clerk to resolve a couple of technical issues which have arisen.  As the scheme develops it is becoming evident that some of the soft planting area may be better laid to grass, at least initially.  Members agreed that the proposal to lay areas of the scheme to grass should be progressed and that funds could be taken from the current project budget.

Renovation of Benches

The Admin Assistant has met with Westward Housing and is awaiting a price for the repair of selected benches in the town centre.

076.  EAST THE WATER GRAVEYEARD

a.  Members received the cost of the grass cut expenditure for the FY 2014/15 and gave consideration to a grant to cover the cost.
Proposed by Councillor A Inch, seconded and 

RESOLVED:  That a grant of £1000 is given to Bideford Parochial Church Council toward the grass cutting expenditure at East-the-Water Graveyard during 2014.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

b.  Members received a quotation for the grass cutting for the FY 2015/2016 and gave consideration to a grant towards the cost.

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded and 

RECOMMENDED:  That clarification is obtained as to what area of the graveyard will be cut under the terms of the quote provided and whether this quote includes vat.  A grant of £2,000 is earmarked for Bideford Parochial Church Council towards the grass cutting expenditure at East-the-Water Graveyard during 2015/16, but this is subject to approval of the SFGP following the receipt of the above information.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

077.  FUNDS REQUEST – BIDEFORD RUGBY CLUB
Members had received a letter from the Bideford Football Rugby Club requesting urgent funds.  The Town Clerk advised that an underspend of £8,000 remains in the contingency grant budget.

Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That Standing Orders are suspended for item 9. to allow the representatives present to answer any queries raised by Members.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

A question was raised concerning how much loan/grant has been given in the past, and details were provided.
A further question concerned the timescale for improvements – The tree surgery will take place immediately with the other improvements following as soon as funds are available.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded and 

RECOMMENDED:  That a grant of £4,000 is given to The Bideford Football Rugby Club to cover the necessary improvements.

(Vote For:  8, Against: 0)

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Brenton, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the meeting returns to Standing Orders.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

078.  FUNDS REQUEST – BIDEFORD FOOTBALL CLUB
Members received a letter from the Bideford Football Club requesting urgent funds. Discussion took place regarding the provision of accounts, a business plan and a maintenance programme.
 
Proposed by Councillor Vanstone, seconded and 

RECOMMENDED:  That £3,500 is earmarked from the Regeneration budget in principle for the purchase of one Pylon.  The release of the funds however will be subject to the provision of satisfactory information from the Football Club.  The Chairman and Secretary of Bideford AFC are to be invited to the next SFGP meeting to provide this information.  They will need to provide accounts, a maintenance programme and business plan to the satisfaction of the Committee.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

079.  GRANT  REQUEST – BIDEFORD GROW JIGSAW
Members received a letter from the Bideford Grow Jigsaw requesting that their grant application be re-considered as they were now in a position to provide their accounts. 

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Brenton, seconded and 

RECOMMENDED:  That a grant of   £1,364.24 be made to Bideford Grow Jigsaw for the items detailed in their application.

(Vote – For: 8, Against: 0)

The Town Clerk was asked to inform Bideford Grow Jigsaw, that if they make a grant application to Bideford Town Council next year, Members would like to see a set of accounts which are specific to Bideford.  A lot of superfluous accounting material was sent with the grant request.

080.  GRASS STABILISATION MATERIAL

Members gave consideration to resolving the issues surrounding the purchase of grass stabilisation material:
•    Storage
•    Transportation
•    Laying
Due to the weight and volume of the temporary stabilisation identified, it has been difficult to solve the above issues.  Permanent stabilisation was discussed, but the proximity of trees in the area does not lend itself to this solution.  It was agreed that hiring matting as and when required may be the best option.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Town Clerk ascertains the cost of hiring the matting  and then enquires from the Devon Remembers Fund whether the grant can be used for this purpose.

(Vote For: 8, Against: 0)


(Councillor Vanstone left the meeting).

081.  CHRISTMAS LIGHTING SCHEME

Members received and noted the information on repairs required within the Christmas Lighting Scheme. This issue will be addressed within the draft budget recommendations.

082.  BUDGET 2015/2016

The Town Clerk presented the draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2015/2016.

Several Members spoke in favour of increasing the precept by 4% as they felt that with County Council and District Council cuts, more will be expected from the Town Council in future years.  However, Councillors Mrs Brenton  and Ratcliff felt that a 2.72 % rise was more appropriate in the current economic climate

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

Proposed by Councillor A Inch, seconded and

RECOMMENDED:  That the Council approves the budget of £395,601.00 in respect of the Financial Year commencing 2015 and that the Council’s reserves remain at £130,000.00.
(This will be a precept of approximately 4.03% increase but the exact percentage increase is dependent on the final Council tax support grant figures still to be received from Torridge District Council).

(Vote For: 4,  Against: 3)

(Councillor Ratcliff had also made a proposal for a budget of £391,101.00 (2.72% precept increase) and was seconded by Councillor Mrs Brenton.  This was not put to the vote as the above proposal was carried).

Proposed by Councillor A Inch, seconded and

RECOMMENDED:  That the Council earmarks £20,000.00 within the Regeneration Projects budget for the refurbishment of the Christmas Lights)

(Vote For: 8,  Against: 0)

083.  ROAD SWEEPER/MAINTENANCE OFFICER

a.  Update on the meeting held with The Head of Street Cleaning, TDC.
The Town Clerk and Councillor Pester met with Richard Haste, TDC earlier this week.  It was agreed that a Service Level Agreement would be generated to outline how Torridge District Council will support the provision of a Town Council employed Street Sweeper/Maintenance Officer.  Ideally any SLA would:

Refer to the fact that the street cleansing tasks have been risk assessed by Torridge District Council
Refer to Lone Worker Support
Refer to the storage of the barrow and use of rest facilities.
Refer to assistance (at least initially) with appraisals.

Training was discussed and the need to ensure the operative is sufficiently trained to carry out the duties.  For the street cleansing role,  if the training undertaken by the operative has been  risk assessed by Torridge District Council as being adequate, then this suffices.  Bideford Town Council  will need to ensure that for any supplementary tasks which the operative undertakes, beyond the street cleansing role, that he will have been given adequate training.

Appropriate courses would be First Aid, Working at Heights and Chapter 8.

The current operative will be interviewed for the role and asked to complete an application form.  If these processes are satisfactorily met, he will be kept on as an agency worker until the SLA and risk assessments are in place.  The Town Clerk will keep him updated as to progress.

The hours of work will be amended to include a flexibility caveat in line with the needs of the Town Council.

The position will be subject to 6 months’ probation.

b.  To receive details of the Job Evaluation and set the SCP level.

The Town Clerk outlined the recommendations from South West Employers.

Councillor Ratcliff proposed that the salary for the position of Road Sweeper/Maintenance Officer be set at SCP 9 – 12.  The vote was: For: 2,  Against: 5 and was therefore lost.

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the salary level for the position of Road Sweeper/Maintenance Officer be set at SCP 10 – 13, for 37 hours per week working Wednesday – Sunday as per the job description.

(Vote For: 5,  Against: 2,)

Proposed by Councillor Mrs Brenton, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Road Sweeper/Maintenance Officer be asked to commence full time employment (via the agency initially) from January 2015.

(Vote For: 8,  Against: 0)

084    NATIONAL JOINT COUNCIL FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES

Members received information on the pay increase and non-consolidated payments agreed by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services.

   
The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 8.24 pm.

 


 

Minutes of the Staffing, Finance and General Purposes Committee Meeting - 23 October 2014


 

PRESENT:   

North Ward:
   
Councillor Mrs M Fulford
Councillor T Johns

South Ward:   

Councillor S G Inch
Councillor P J Pester (Chairman)

East Ward:

Councillor M C Langmead (Town Mayor)
Councillor D M Ratcliff
Councillor R Vanstone

IN ATTENDANCE:
   
Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor D C Fulford

052  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Councillor Mrs E A Brenton (North Ward – Personal) and Councillor A T Inch (South Ward – Work Commitments).

053  DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND ANY REQUESTS FOR DISPENSATION ON ITEMS ON THE AGENDA

Councillor R Vanstone declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 8. (Two of the organisers are related to his wife).

054  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION OF 15 MINUTES DURATION

There was no public participation.

055  MINUTES

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 October 2014 were approved and signed as a correct record.

(Vote – For:  7,  Against: 0)

056  CHAIRMAN’S ITEMS

•    The Town Clerk explained the advice provided by SLCC regarding payment of the Mayor’s Allowance.  In essence it should be paid against receipted expenditure,             although if the Mayor wishes to have an advance on monies due to be spent, this can be arranged.  Discussion followed where it was suggested that if the Mayor needed to     provide an audit trail then perhaps this should also be required of the grant recipients. The current Mayor advised that he complies with the current receiptable system and     is not out of pocket as the Council deal with payment for functions etc.  The staff also organise the refreshments for the Regatta and can claim the VAT back. (Under the     previous system this was organised by the Mayor out of his/her allowance).  Following a number of suggestions it was agreed to place the proposal of a round sum allowance,     which would be subject to PAYE coupled with a further allowance requiring receipts, on the December Town Council meeting agenda.

•    The Town Clerk advised that no one as yet had applied for the role of Beadle and asked Members to encourage any interested parties.

057  ACCOUNTS

Members received the list of payments.

Proposed by Councillor Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the list of payments is approved.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

058  PROJECT UPDATE

Port Memorial

The ground works are progressing well, and signage has been purchased to notify the public of the project timescales and funders.  The drawings for the terracotta plaques should be completed next week, but the artist has advised that the finished product will not be ready for the completion of the groundworks.  She has undertaken to have them completed in January 2015.  The bid for additional funds from FLAG for benches, soft planting and cleaning the memorial following the project was unsuccessful.  However, the cost of the edging bricks came in under budget and it has been agreed with the contractor to divert these funds to the purchase and install good quality benches.  (Previously only concrete bases were being provided by the contractor).  Once the project is finished local companies will be approached to quote for the soft planting area.  It is hoped that there will be sufficient contingency money remaining to cover this cost.

Councillor Vanstone advised that he had concerns about the durability of the brick edgers specified and Members felt a guarantee should be sought on their longeveity.  The Town Clerk advised that following a previous conversation with Councillor Vanstone she had raised this with the architect during a site meeting and had been assured that they were fit for use in the part of the scheme where they were being placed.  Following further discussion it was agreed that Councillor Vanstone would speak with the architect and express his concerns and seek assurances that the correct brick edger had been chosen.  The Town Clerk expressed the view that for future major projects she could be assigned a Councillor to work with who had the appropriate industry knowledge if possible.  Members agreed and Councillor Ratcliff asked that it be minuted that the Town Clerk had worked hard to progress the project.

Renovation of Benches

The Road Sweeper has been provided with a wire brush and a list of the benches, and has started cleaning them.  Members asked that it be noted that numerous positive comments have been received about the road sweeper.  It was felt that he is doing a fine job and is a great ambassador for the town, and the Town Clerk was asked to pass on these comments.

Outdoor Fitness Equipment

The funds have been received from the TAP fund for the installation of fitness equipment in Victoria Park.  The District Council has given a verbal agreement to the installation of the equipment subject to agreement of its location and on the proviso that the Town Council will take the responsibility for its insurance, inspection, and maintenance requirements. It was noted that the supply company should guarantee the equipment for an initial period of time and that a price will be requested from ISS for carrying out routine inspections.  Councillor Ratcliff advised that the office will need to keep copies of the inspection paperwork.

Ground Stabilisation Matting

Councillor Inch asked if there was any news on the grant request.  The Town Clerk advised that she had not yet received notification of whether it had been successful.  She asked if anyone knew if Councillor A T Inch had been able to find anywhere within Torridge to store the matting.  She was advised that nowhere had been found as yet.

Councillor Mrs Fulford asked about plans to paint the Pannier Market.  She was advised to take the question forward to Market Management.

059  GRANT REQUEST – BIDEFORD FESTIVAL COMMITTEE

Members received the grant request letter from the Bideford Festival Committee.  The Town Clerk advised that the underspend of £7,500 was still in the grants budget, as the newly formed committee had not taken this amount earlier in the year.
Whilst discussing the costs of the event, Members referred to the cost of first aid provision and felt that this was double taxation by SWAST.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and 

RECOMMENDED:  That a grant of £9,850 as requested in the letter from the Festival Committee is awarded towards the New Year’s Eve celebrations this year (2014/15)

(Vote For: 5, Against: 1, Abstention: 1)

060  TERRACOTTA PLAQUES FOR PORT MEMORIAL

Members received details of the increased costs for the Terracotta plaques for the Port Memorial.  It was advised that the initial quotation had been received over 15 months ago.  The Town Clerk advised that any increase would need to be met wholly by Town Council funds and that FLAG would not contribute to any increase in costs.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED: That an increase of 2.5% (£159.35) be accepted.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

061  FIXED PRICED QUOTATIONS – FORD WOODLAND

Members considered the three fixed price quotations for the work required at Ford Woodland.

Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded and 

RESOLVED:  That the quotation from East Devon Tree Surgeons for the arboricultural surgery is accepted.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

062  ATTENDANCE AT MEETING AND TRAINING SESSION

Members considered the attendance of The Town Clerk at
a)    Preparing for Elections Briefing, South Molton.
b)    Society Local Council Clerks AGM & Branch Meeting, Exeter

Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded and 

RESOLVED:  That The Town Clerk attends both meetings.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

063  LEAVING GIFT – TOWN BEADLE

Members gave consideration to a leaving gift for the Town Beadle. Ideas were put forward and the type of gift and budget decided upon.

Proposed by Councillor Vanstone, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the Town Clerk and Chairman of SFGP are delegated the responsibility of choosing the gift from the choice of ideas discussed, up to a maximum budget of £150.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

064  ANNUAL TROPHY FOR STREET WITH BEST FLORAL DISPLAY

Members gave consideration to an annual trophy for the town centre street with the best floral display. Following discussion, it was agreed that logistically it would be best to advertise the award and ask any streets who wished to participate to select a representative to register the street in the competition.  The representative would then be responsible for co-ordinating with the rest of the street which premises holder would display the trophy on behalf of the street, and attend the ceremony where the trophy is presented.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That a budget of £250 is allocated for the purchase of a trophy to recognise the street within the town centre with the best floral display.  The competition will be organised as described in minute no. 64 above.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

065  TOP HAT – TOWN CRIER

Members gave consideration to the purchase of a new top hat for the Town Crier.  The Town Crier’s current top hat dates from before WWII and is looking very worn.  The top of the hat was replaced 15 years ago, but the whole hat is now in need of recovering as a minimum.   The cost of a new hat with braid and buckle would be £330 & VAT.  The current hat would be reunited with the previous uniform, which The Town Crier currently has for safekeeping.

Proposed by Councillor Ratcliff, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That a new hat is purchased for the Town Crier.

(Vote For: 7, Against: 0)

066  NOTICE OF MOTION

Members gave consideration to the following Notice of Motion:

“That the Council continues the employment of a part-time road sweeper and examines the expansion of the post to include Handyman duties.”

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RECOMMENDED:  That the permanent position is offered to the temporary post-holder with a probationary period of 3 months. The current working hours (25) Wednesday to Sunday are to be maintained for road sweeping, with a further 12 hours allocated for general handy person duties. Members recognise that with a permanent weekend shift some flexibility will be needed and the Town Clerk could be authorised to agree occasional variations to the days worked during the week.  The Town Clerk is asked to develop a person specification and job description and complete a job evaluation with South West Employers.  This information will then be returned to SFGP in order for the salary level to be set.

(Vote For:  7, Against: 0)

067  ASSISTANCE TO TOWN CENTRE PARTNERSHIP

Members gave consideration to a request from the Town Centre Partnership for the Town Clerk’s Assistant to provide 3 hours per month administration assistance for the partnership.

Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the request is granted for a trial period of 6 months initially.  The assistance will be for admin support only and not project development.  Should the Town Clerk’s Assistant be unavailable for a meeting due to holiday or Town Council commitments, a replacement will need to be sourced from within the partnership membership.  The Town Clerk will report back to SFGP in 6 months on the success of the initiative. 

(Vote For:  7, Against: 0)

    PART II CLOSED SESSION

Proposed by Councillor Vanstone, seconded and
   
RESOLVED:  That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be discussed, the meeting moves into part II.

(Vote For:  7,  Against: 0)

068  JOB EVALUATION – TOWN CLERK’S ASSISTANT

Members noted the contents of the Job Evaluation for the Town Clerk’s Assistant.

There is a confidential minute associated with this agenda item.
 

The business of the meeting having been completed, the Chairman thanked the members for their attendance and the meeting concluded at 7.46 pm.

 


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