Minutes of a meeting of the FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE held at 8.10pm on Wednesday 2 June 2021. This was an in-person meeting with the public attending using the Zoom platform
PRESENT Cllr J O’Brien (Chairman), Cllrs M Caton and G Sell
ATTENDING 1 member of the public
77 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs M Jessup and F Richards
78 DECLARATION OF INTEREST – None
79 TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 31st MARCH 2021
RESOLVED to accept the minutes of the meeting on 31st March 2021 as a true and accurate account
80 MATTERS ARISING – None
81 CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – Attached
a) OUTAGE REPORT – All repairs currently up to date
The Clerk reported that the light attached to a property in Stoney Common has finally been replaced following repairs to the brickwork.
c) HARGRAVE ESTATE
Following the success of the upgrade of lighting columns on Croasdaile Road, our lighting contractors had been asked to submit a quote to upgrade the remaining 18 lights on the Hargrave Estate. The quote was in the sum of £5,522. The Clerk explained that the unspent capital budget for lighting in the previous financial year had been carried forward into the earmarked reserve which now stands at £9,342. A further £10,000 towards the phased upgrade of all parish lighting has been raised in the current year.
Having been proposed by Cllr Sell and seconded by Cllr Caton, it was unanimously
RESOLVED to accept the quote to upgrade the remaining lights on the Hargrave Estate.
a) PAYMENTS FOR AUTHORISATION – Approved
b) INTERNAL AUDITOR’S FINAL REPORT
The Auditor’s report had been circulated to all members prior to the meeting. The Chairman drew attention to the Action Plan on the final page. The majority of these items had appeared in the Interim Report. Following receipt of that report, Cllrs O’Brien and Jessup had discussed with the Clerk and set a programme of meetings to reinstate the necessary monitoring. As lockdown restrictions are now eased, the Clerk is able to undertake the banking more frequently.
The question of whether to switch the Council’s bankers to Unity Trust Bank will appear as an item on the Full Council agenda next week. The Clerk is happy to recommend this to members based on the experience of other Councils and the Essex Association of Local Councils.
The issue of switching staff onto NJC scales has been ongoing for some time now. Despite assurances from the EALC, the HR firm with whom they have an agreement to provide advice to member Councils has never responded to any of the Clerk’s enquiries. Having found a potential alternative, the Clerk set about taking up references but had been unable to find any other Town or Parish Council who used their services.
Following an enquiry sent out to other T&P Councils seeking recommendations, a third firm has now been recommended and the Clerk will obtain costs. It is clear from their website that they focus on the local authority sector as clients and should therefore have a good understanding of our requirements.
84 DRAFT YEAR END ACCOUNTS 31 MARCH 2021
The draft of the accounts had been received from the accountants and circulated to all members of the Council with the agenda for this meeting. No queries had been raised. The Governance Statement and Accounting Statements would be presented to the Full Council on 9 June.
85 BONFIRE NIGHT
Members were generally agreed that it would be good to hold this event in 2021 but this would still be dependent upon Covid-19 restrictions. The date of 21 June to remove all restrictions is looking less certain and some commentators are predicting further issues in the autumn.
The Clerk will endeavour to find out whether the Council would be able to get a refund on the fireworks if it placed an order now but the event was unable to proceed due to legislation. In the hope that all will be well, the office will research an online booking and payment system. It was agreed that ideally the organisation of the event would be put into the hands of one company to arrange. Entry charges would remain unchanged at £4 per adult, £2 per child and £10 per family of 4.
86 BLOOR HOMES PLANNING APPEAL
The Clerk reported that there had been a good response from the public to the SSV appeal for funds to support the costs of the Rule 6 Party at the forthcoming Planning Appeal. As one of the Rule 6 party, consideration should be given as to whether the Parish Council should make a further contribution towards the costs of employing the various consultants. Funds are available within the Professional Fees budget. After discussion and having been proposed by Cllr Sell and seconded by Cllr Caton, it was unanimously
RESOLVED to contribute £3,000 towards the Rule 6 party funds for the Bloor Homes Appeal.
87 TO CONSIDER APPOINTING AN ALTERNATIVE HR CONSULTANT
Covered under item 83 above.
88 CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
The Council had raised funds in the current budget to enhance Christmas Lighting. An initial quote had been received from the current supplier. However, the Clerk has recently submitted a bid to UDC for a variety of different items which could potentially be funded from an EU Covid-related fund. It was agreed not to proceed further until the outcome of the bid was known.
89 DAY CENTRE
Cllr Caton reported that meetings and discussions continue with TouchPoint regarding services to be provided, terms of a lease and repairs/improvements to the building.
The Chairman informed the meeting that work on the stocks will be required in the next year or so. Timber has been purchased and is now being seasoned ready for use. The funds of the Millers have, clearly, been depleted due to the inability to open the Mill and to hold its annual fete. They hope to resume activities this year, but this hinges on legislation and the loosening of restrictions.
The Chairman flagged up that the Council’s annual contribution to the Windmill Fund may need to increase going forward to keep up with inflation. Further details of projected costs will be agreed with the Millers at the next sub-committee meeting.
91 YOUTH MATTERS
Cllr Caton reported that the Youth Centre has now physically reopened although attendance has been low to start with. Gemini Youth Services had delivered a series of outreach sessions during the pandemic engaging with young people particularly at the skatepark.
The Youth Council, whilst small in numbers, is progressing well with three enthusiastic young people. They are working with Dan Schlanker to try to recruit new members using Instagram. Cllr Caton said that she is hoping to arrange a visit to Westminster to meet Kemi Badenoch MP and Simeon Earnshaw at ECC has arranged for a young politician to attend the next YC meeting. Finally, the YC is working with UDC to plan one of four summer events in the district – a type of music festival to be held on the Mountfitchet Green.
Meeting closed at 9pm
- 81C – office to accept quote for Hargrave Estate lighting upgrade
- 83b – office to get prices from HR company
- 85 – office to contact firework supplier and research on-line booking system
NOTICE OF MEETING You are summoned to attend a meeting of the FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE to be held on Wednesday 2nd June 2021 at 8.00pm in The Mountfitchet Exchange, Crafton Green, 72 Chapel Hill, Stansted, Essex
1 To receive apologies for absence
2 To receive Declarations of Interest
3 To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 31st March 2021
4 Matters Arising
5 Chairman’s Report
6 Lighting: a) Outage Report b) General c) To consider quote for LED replacement lighting on Hargrave Park – attached
7 Finance: a) Payments for authorisation – attached b) To receive the final Internal Audit report to 31/03/21-attached
8 Draft Year End Accounts – To consider the draft account to 31/03/21 – attached
9 Bonfire Night – To consider options for 2021 event
10 Bloor Homes Planning Appeal – To consider making a contribution to the Rule 6 costs
11 To consider appointing an alternative HR consultant
12 Christmas Lights – To consider quote from Aylesford Lighting – attached
13 Day Centre
15 Youth Matters – To receive an update from Cllr Caton
Ruth Clifford, Parish Clerk – 27 May 2021