Minutes of a meeting of the FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 9th December 2020 using the Zoom platform.
PRESENT Cllr J O’Brien (Chairman), Cllrs M Caton, J Hogg, M Jessup, A Khan, F Richards and G Sell
Mrs R Clifford – Clerk to the Council
Mrs E Philbrick – Admin Assistant
Cllrs A Barnes and J Hudson
1 Member of the public
1 Member of the press
432 APOLOGIES – None
433 DECLARATION OF INTEREST – None
434 TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020
RESOLVED to accept the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd September 2020 as a true and accurate account
435 MATTERS ARISING AND ACTION POINTS
No matters arising
392 – A meeting was requested, and a member of Network Rail is in contact with Cllr O’Brien to arrange a convenient date to have a meeting on site at Water Lane
393 – The noticeboard has been agreed and will be ordered shortly
393 – A meeting has been arranged with Cllr Kevin Bentley for 4th January
398 – Cllr O’Brien had obtained quotes for architectural drawings of the Day Centre and the cost would be £2520 + Vat. It was advised that it had been a number of years since a structural survey had been done on the Day Centre so having been proposed by Cllr O’Brien and seconded by Cllr Jessup it was:
RESOLVED to obtain quotes for a full structural survey on both the Day Centre and Crafton Green House
This was unanimously agreed.
436 CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – Attached
Cllr Caton advised that she asked for Christmas lights on Church Road and Cambridge Road as well as extended further along Lower Street.
Cllr Khan commented that local residents do not seem keen on Fireworks so this should be taken into consideration with any future events. Cllr Richards believes that the issue with the fireworks is the noise and that silent fireworks should be looked into.
437 LIGHTING a) Outage Report – None b) General – Nothing to report
a) Payments for authorisation – Approved b) VAT Return to 30th September 2020
Circulated to members before the meeting – This had been submitted to HMRC and the money received.
c) Income and expenditure statement to 31st October 2020 – Circulated by email and no questions arising.
439 BUDGET – TO CONSIDER THE DRAFT BUDGET FOR 2021/22
A draft of the budget had been circulated to members ahead of the meeting. Cllr O’Brien advised that the gardening and grass-cutting costs look like they have soared, but this is because the costs of Foresthall Park have been combined for next year and therefore some headings are showing a nil figure.
In his Chairman’s Report, Cllr O’Brien had outlined the main items which were to be discussed. If members agreed to all additional items in the budget, then there would be a deficit to be addressed.
Cllr Sell agreed that it would be good to have more Christmas lights but commented that the Parish Council could look for support from local businesses. With regards to professional fees, we are currently in uncertain times and with lack of a Local Plan there could be the need for more professional representation.
Cllr Sell advised that he fully supported the increase in grants but rather than wait for organisations to approach the Council could we be more proactive by considering what the Parish Council would like to support, this perhaps along the lines of a “charity of the year” or a specific theme. Cllr O’Brien advised that with the appointment of a new Communications Assistant from 1st January 2021 it was hoped the Parish Council could be more active with its communication with the community through media. It was agreed to have Cllr Sell’s suggestion as an agenda item for the Committee to discuss in the new year.
Cllr Barnes asked if the £10,000 allocated for the Cemetery Extension which has not been used this year would be banked and the Clerk confirmed that any unspent funds would be carried over into the Council’s earmarked reserves.
Cllr Sell asked what advantage the Council was taking of the Uttlesford District Council scheme to supply trees to the Parish? The Clerk advised that she had been in touch with Uttlesford but they wanted to supply the trees straight away and this is not something we could accept yet due to the land at Elms Farm not yet belonging to us. Hopefully the Council will be better placed for the scheme in Autumn 2021 if available.
Cllr Khan asked if there were enough funds for the Neighbourhood Plan? The Clerk confirmed that in addition to the £6,000 allocation in the current year’s budget, there is a further £6,300 carried over from last year in the Council’s earmarked reserves. He also commented that with the new Communications Assistant due to start that he would like to see the Parish Council go more digital as it’s the way forward.
The Clerk advised the meeting that they were not agreeing to the budget at this meeting and that it will go through more processes before any final decisions had to be made by the deadline date at the end of January 2021.
440 STAFF MATTERS
Cllr Richards advised that two new members of staff had been appointed as of 1st January 2021. This is Dan who is the new Communications Assistant and Laila who will be the Project Co-Ordinator. They were both very strong candidates with Dan coming with extensive experience in Communications and Leila who previously lived in Denmark and has worked with Councils.
Everyone else on the team has been working very hard. Lee, Lucy and Levi need to be commended for their hard work all the way through lockdown. Ruth and Emma have also been working extremely hard and she would like thanks passed on to all staff members.
Cllr Sell asked if members could be given details of the new staff members and what their roles in the Council would be. The Clerk agreed that she would send round a small biography of each one with their job descriptions.
441 DAY CENTRE
Cllr O’Brien advised that there was nothing much to update. The Parish Council were not receiving any money from Uttlesford District Council as it’s still closed. A deep clean would need to be done when an opening date is known, and possibly an internal redecoration.
No matters to report. The Millers had not been able to hold their Summer Fete so had not received the income they normally do. Cllr O’Brien commented that he was concerned that the £4,000 granted by the Parish Council had not increased in several years and felt that maybe it should increase with inflation. This is something to consider for the future.
443 YOUTH MATTERS
Cllr Caton advised that the Youth Council was due to have their first meeting on Thursday 17th December 2020. This would give the participants a chance to meet with members, each other and also introduce them to training. They were also going to be invited to observe the next Full Council meeting. There were currently 8 students on the list.
Meeting closed 8.25pm
435 Cllr Jessup agreed to obtain quotes for a full structural survey of both the Day Centre and Crafton Green House
440 The Clerk to circulate a small biography and job description of the new staff to all members
NOTICE OF MEETING You are summoned to attend a meeting of the FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE to be held on Wednesday 9th December 2020 at 7.30pm using the Zoom platform.
1 To receive apologies for absence
2 To receive Declarations of Interest
3 To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd September 2020
4 Matters Arising
5 Chairman’s Report
6 Lighting: a)Outage Report b) General
a) payments for authorisation – to be circulated to PC members
b) VAT return to 30th September 2020
c) Income and expenditure statement to 31st October 2020
8 Budget – To consider the draft budget for 2021/22 – to be circulated to PC members
9 Staff Matters -to receive an update for the Clerk
10 Day Centre – To receive an update
11 Windmill – To receive any available updates
12 Youth Matters – To receive an update from Cllr Caton
Ruth Clifford, Parish Clerk – 3 December 2020