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Staffing, Finance & General Puposes Committee Meeting held Thursday 7 January 2016 at 6.00pm

Minutes of the Staffing, Finance & General Purposes Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bideford on Thursday 7 January 2016 at 6.00 pm

North Ward:   
Councillor D Bushby
Councillor P S Christie
Councillor P J Pester (Town Mayor)

South Ward:   
Councillor D G Brenton
Councillor A T Inch
Councillor S G Inch (Chairman)
Councillor R Wootton
South (Outer) Ward:   
Councillor D Howell
East Ward:
Councillor M Langmead

Mrs H J Blackburn (Town Clerk)
Councillor  T Johns


All Members were present.


None received.


There was no public participation.


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 November 2015 were approved and signed as a correct record.
(Vote – For: 9,  Against: 0)


The Town Clerk advised that she had attended the One Bideford Meeting yesterday along with Councillors A T Inch and Langmead.  The agencies currently involved are moving forward with a co-ordinated Town Team type approach, with a “Go Live date” of 29th February.  The aim is to run the project for a month before the launch date which is likely to be on 3 April 2016 (to coincide with the Beautiful Bideford – Taking Pride in our Town day). Councillors Langmead and A Inch have agreed to be joint Chair of the “One Bideford” Project Meetings and the Town Council is being asked to lead this initiative.  Members need to agree on a level of support that can be provided.
The other agencies are contributing resources as follows: (this is an approximate list)

Police: crime scheme funded Radios, increase to radio coverage, anti-graffiti kits, “One Bideford” badges.
TDC: mobile phone, possibly office accommodation if required.
Fire Service: Some financial resource available.

The initial contact point for the public will be via a mobile phone (text), which will be held in the first instance by the Town Clerk’s Office.  After a month, the nature of the calls will be evaluated, and if it is felt that the phone should be manned by another agency, it will be transferred.

As the lead body, Bideford Town Council will need to provide some admin support to the Chairs of the meeting, and some co-ordination ability.  The Town Council will also need to generate and maintain a web site, and possibly co-ordinate targeted activities. The Town Clerk suggested a budget of £5,000 allocated as follows: Launch £500, website £500, admin/co-ordination £4,000.

Councillors Langmead and A Inch added further information about the radio system and advised that the concept is not to spend money, but to save money.  Both Councillors expressed their admiration for how well the group is working together and becoming involved in cleaning up the town. It was noted that the work of One Ilfracombe is perceived very well within their town.

The Town Centre Partnership is also very supportive of One Bideford.

Members also talked about the launch and the need for not just leaflets, but other ways of advertising the initiative (banners, stickers, press etc.).

Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded and

RECOMMENDED:  That the contingency sum of £5,000 is put in the budget towards the launch of “One Bideford”, website and administration.  Delegated authority for the spend of the fund (within the allocated budget), is given jointly to Councillors Langmead, A T Inch and the Town Clerk.

(Vote – For:  9, Against: 0)


•     Flowers are being sent to the Macebearer, who has just come out of hospital.
•     The coach shelter on Landivisiau Walk has been vandalised.  This has been reported to the Police and the Insurance Company, and is likely to cost in the region of £1,200 & vat to repair.  Councillor Howell suggested it may be more cost effective to replace the end panel with a solid “Discovering Bideford” sign, and offered to look into the feasibility of this.
•     The Torridge District Council Caretaker who currently covers Bideford Town Council meetings is happy to continue to act as Caretaker for Bideford Town Council after April 2016.  If the BTC Meetings are held at the same time as Torridge Meetings, they will cover the cost.
•     A dummy run to move the furniture out of the Town Hall is being organised for Thursday 28 January – prior to the Town Council meeting.  The time of 17.45 was agreed, and the Town Clerk will arrange for an email to be sent to Councillors advising them of the arrangement and asking them to watch the Manual Handling video if they are able to participate.
•     Members requested that the next SFGP meeting on 11 February 2016 is held at 6.30 pm as it clashes with a Bridge Trust Meeting.  This was agreed by all Members present.  The timing of future meetings will also be placed on the next SFGP agenda.


Members received the list of payments.

Concerns were raised about the payment to Torridge District Council for the Christmas parking.  It was generally felt that as it had not been possible to cover the payment machines, some people had paid, even though the parking should have been free.  The Town Clerk was asked if this revenue could be identified and repaid to the Town Council, with a view to it being passed on to a local charity.  Some Councillors also felt that some Members of the Public had been unclear about which authority was paying for the free parking days.
Proposed by Councillor Brenton, seconded and

RESOLVED:  That the draft list of payments is approved. The Town Clerk will ask Torridge District Council if the overpayment sum can be identified, with a view to donating this to Charity.

(Vote – For: 9, Against: 0)

The Town Clerk advised that following the payment for the arboricultural work in the woods, there were sufficient funds remaining to engage a tree surgeon to survey the boundary with the neighbouring estate, with a view to identifying any trees which if they fell, would land on property.  The affected trees could then be trimmed, to reduce the threat.  This was agreed, and the Town Clerk will organise some quotations.


Proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded and 

RESOLVED:  That a budget of £150 is set for a gift for the Manor Court Speaker.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)


Presentment Number 4.

“That the Town Council prepares a list of properties and areas and presents to the Tidy Town committee to pursue and monitor including rubbish and chewing gum.”

A clean up day “Beautiful Bideford – Taking Pride in our Town”, is currently being organised by volunteers from both the Town Council’s Tourism Committee, and other local organisations.  The first day is scheduled for Sunday 3 April 2016.

Presentment Number 5.

“That a feasibility study be conducted to investigate the cost, location and general desirability of a bandstand in Victoria Park.  To consider adapting the existing Fort and utilise income from 106 agreements to finance the project.”

The Town Clerk advised that the Town Band have been made aware of the dimensions of the fort in Victoria Park, and are going to check if the area would be sufficient to accommodate them if adapted to become a band stand.


The Clerk advised that she had contacted NALC for advice on how to mitigate the risk of holding all funds with one financial institution, and had circulated the response prior to the meeting.  She has also asked Mr Norton at Torridge District Council, who has advised that their funds are held with different institutions to spread the risk. Members agreed that the sum of £200,000 could be moved to another financial institution, and Councillors Howell and Bushby both said that they had contacts, who could advise on safe propositions.

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded and

RESOLVED: That Councillors Bushby and Howell will obtain more information on investment possibilities for The Town Council funds, and will report back to the next meeting.

(Vote – For: 9,  Against: 0)


Members gave consideration to the procedure for raising the Commonwealth flag on Monday 14 March 2016.

Proposed by Councillor Christie, seconded and 

RECOMMENDED:  That on Monday 14th March The Commonwealth flag is raised at the Town Hall, with the Mayor and Councillors attending the flag raising at Riverbank House.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

097                                                                                                        QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY BEACONS

Members gave consideration to correspondence from Bruno Peek, Pageant Master, regarding The Queen’s Birthday Beacons – 21 April 2016.  Members discussed the whereabouts of the Beacon used during the Diamond Jubilee, and Councillor Howell offered to check with Pollyfield if they still had it.  Councillor S Inch suggested that The Town Council should become involved in lighting a Beacon and offered to lead this initiative.

Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and 

RECOMMENDED:  That the Town Council supports lighting the beacon under the leadership of Councillor S Inch.  The Town Clerk will advise the Pageant Master that a Beacon will be lit in Bideford.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)


Members gave consideration to the Financial Regulations as required by clause 49 and the suggestion from the External Auditor.

Proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded and 


That the Financial Regulations are amended to fully differentiate between the current auditor roles.  The terminology used will be as follows: Internal Auditor (currently Councillor Bushby), Independent Auditor (currently Mrs M Wilkin) and External Auditor (Currently Grant Thornton).

That The following clause is added to the Financial Regulations:

On a regular basis, at least once in each quarter, and at each financial year end, The Internal Auditor (who is not the Chairman or a cheque signatory) shall be appointed to verify bank reconciliations (for all accounts) produced by the RFO. The Internal Auditor shall sign the reconciliations and the original bank statements as evidence of verification. This activity shall on conclusion be reported, including any exceptions, to and noted by the Finance Committee.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

099   NOTICE OF MOTION: Councillor T Johns/S Inch

“To enhance the existing area at Victoria Park where the Old Public toilets stood, by erecting iron railings and a concrete wall to match existing enclosure of Victoria Park.”

Councillor Trevor Johns spoke on the background to the motion, which was supported by Councillor S Inch.

The Town Clerk advised that John Adams, TDC had obtained two quotes for the work, which were circulated to Members. More had been requested, but had not been forthcoming.  £3,870 TAP money is still available, and anything left over from the provision of cycle hoops can be put towards this project, as it will enhance the visibility of the proposed storage area for the cycles.

The Town Clerk has spoken with John Adams about whether it would be more efficient to install the cycle hoops at the same time as the wall enhancement, and he feels this would be the case. 

Councillor Christie expressed support for the project, but wondered whether the current railings could be replaced with ironwork which is more in keeping with the ornate gates, and which reflects our maritime history.  He suggested there may be FLAG money available for this.

Whilst there was general support for the original motion, Members wished to explore the enhanced ironwork proposal further.  The possibility of removing the bushes which are currently the other side of the fencing was also suggested in order to open up the view into the park.

An amendment to the motion was proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded and

RECOMMENDED:  That the original motion is supported, but that the possibility of replacing the current railings with ironwork which is more in keeping with the ornate gates, and which reflects our maritime history is investigated.

(Vote For: 9, Against: 0)

(It was agreed that The Town Clerk and Councillors S Inch, Christie and Johns would make a site visit and carry out some investigation into enhanced ironwork for the project).

100   BUDGET 2016/2017

The Town Clerk presented the draft Budget Estimates for the Financial Year 2016/2017.

Members generally felt that the precept would need to be increased this year to make up for the reduction in Council Tax support grant provided by The District Council, followed by its complete withdrawal next Year.  Members also suggested that with continuing County Council and District Council cuts, more and more will be expected from the Town Council in future years.  It was advocated that any increase should be coupled with a full explanation to the public of why this is necessary.
Members asked The Town Clerk to amend the “Option C” budget to include £6,000 for grass cutting, which would be taken from the “Projects” Budget Line.

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

Proposed by Councillor Howell, seconded and

RECOMMENDED:  That the Council approves the budget of £ 399,101.00 in respect of the Financial Year commencing 1 April 2016 and that the Council’s reserves remain at £130,000.00.

(This will be a Band D increase of approximately 3.94 % or 56p/week).

(Vote For: 8, Against: 1)


Proposed by Councillor Pester, seconded and

RESOLVED: That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be discussed, it is advisable, in the public interest, that the public be excluded for the remainder of the meeting.

(Vote – For:  9, Against: 0)



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 19.37  pm.




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