MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE OF SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON TUESDAY 20 OCTOBER 2009, 19:00 TO 20:55
PRESENT: Cllrs Glew, Irwin, Martin, Mitchell
Councillor A Rand (Vice-Chairman of the Council)
Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer: Mrs P Raymond
||Apologies and reasons for absence. Cllr Wright (away).
||Declarations of interest. None.
||Representation by prejudiced members. None.
||Public participation session. No public present despite invitations to every household in the recent Bulletin and an article in last week's Sedlescombe News.
||Minutes. RESOLVED: That the Chairman of the Committee is authorised to sign the Minutes of the Meeting of the Finance Committee held on 30/06/09.
2009-10 Second Quarter Review. Members noted that the 2009-10 total income is expected to exceed the budget by more than £10,000 (£7,300 net if income from the Playing Field Trust is excluded), mainly because of pavilion fund income, a Societies Grant of £200 for Red Barn Field maintenance, £1,300 Village of the Year prizemoney and a Quality Council One-Off payment of about £1,400. The total expected expenditure is roughly in line with the budget.
The Clerk/Finance Officer provided details of the Sportsfield Fund. RESOLVED: That the Councils write to the Sports Association asking if they wish to raise any issues prior to the final payment for the pavilion being made to Steeed Construction Ltd. Further income to the fund is expected when the portacabin is sold and expenditure is to be agreed.
A. Council-approved 2009 Inspection Report and any additional jobs whether already approved or to be approved.
- EVT Kickabout - strim nettles, clear weeds from base of units in 2009. R Wood to do foc.
- EVT Kickabout - hedge cut, November 2009. RESOLVED: That R Wood's quote of £100 for cutting the EVT Kickabout hedge in November 2009 is accepted. Fence has been vandalised again. No action.
- Footpath by Kickabout - strim. R Wood to do foc.
- Red Barn Field grass. Cut by Jonathan Vine-Hall (Luke) in September and raked up by Mr Boyd. RESOLVED: That Jonathan Vine-Hall/Luke is asked if willing to cut the grass in Red Barn Field Nature Park in February and September 2010. Efforts to be made to get the summer grass collected by baler. Committee members were pleased to note that Mr Boyd's wildlife survey has identified 33 species of birds, 70 species of plants, 5 species of dragonflies, 19 species of butterflies, 5 species of grasshoppers and bush-crickets, 6 mammals and 12 other insects at Red Barn Field.
- Portacabins' disconnection of services and removal from sportsfield. Cllr Rand to ask Steed Construction to disconnect the large portacabin. Following the loss in a fire of their sports club, Westfield Football Club are interested in purchasing the large portacabin. RESOLVED: That Cllr Rand is authorised to complete the sale of the portacabin.
- Work to close off gate and replace fence at sportsfield. The work required under the planning approval conditions is still to be undertaken. Removal of the ash tree and clump of scrubby trees near the existing gate to be included in in a Village tree work contract. RESOLVED: That Clerk/Finance Officer should obtain quotes for installation of post and rail fencing along the roadside at the sportsfield. Work to be undertaken once the portacabins have been removed.
- Sportsfield car park. Cllr Rand reported on his inspection where he had found that it looks as though the pipe has collapsed under the car park entrance leaving stagnant water in the ditch in the car park. RESOLVED: That work to replace the pipe under the sportsfield car park entrance is approved. (It was suggested that Mr Vaughan of Barrack Cottage had been willing to undertake this work and the pipe is already at the field.) The Clerk/Finance Officer informed the Committee that the Sports Association Chairman had written to her saying that the Association would like to extend the sportsfield car park into the corner of the field. If this is undertaken, the replacement of the pipe could be done at the same time. The Sports Association had been asked to draw up plans for Parish Council approval, prior to submission to Rother DC for planning approval.
- Village Green Pictorial Sign. RECOMMENDED: That the existing design is retained for a replacement sign. The Clerk had obtained two quotes as follows:
The two methods differ vastly in price. RESOLVED: That the firms should be asked if there is any of their work that could be inspected locally using the two methods.
- Arien Signs, Cheddar, Somerset. New sign of 19mm solid white pvc with digital photographic outdoor durable image printed on both sides. Will not peel or absorb water. A high resolution photo is required.
- Signs of the Times, Tebworth, Leighton Buzzard. Cast in sold rigid polyurethane with letters, border and other details in relief. Painted as required. The castings would weigh about 20-25 kgs.
- Village Green Sign post - Cllrs Martin and Rand thanked for removing the old plaques from the post. RESOLVED: That the post should be repainted when the sign is replaced.
- Sir John Keeling teak seats on Village Green - AR to wash in next two weeks.
- Mjr Haddon oak seats at Pumphouse - for repair as part of the larger Heritage Committee project.
- Pumphouse and Pump restoration - part of Heritage Committee project. It was reported that members of the Heritage Committee and the Clerk/Finance Officer had met with a Rother Planning Officer and its Conservation Adviser on 19/10/09 to discuss the work planned as detailed in Heritage Committee Minutes of 22/09/09. RESOLVED: That the work is undertaken in three parts for which quotations will be obtained as follows:
Grant aid to be obtained for the work.
- General maintenance and refurbishment of oak seats, tiles, gables, exposed wood, pointing of flags.
- Provision of new metal grilling in revised position from inner column to inner column (four in all) of Pumphouse with simple motif panels or as advised. (F E Philcox, 24 Church Road, Catsfield; Blackman Smithy, 2 Hoath Hill, Mountfield; Uckfield Engineering).
- Repair/refurbishment of pump, to working order if possible (RPJ Leadwork and others).
- Pumphouse & bus shelter - sweeping. RESOLVED: That R Wood's quote of £20 for the first sweep and £10 fortnightly starting at the beginning of January is accepted. The work will be monitored.
- Oak tree top Village Green. RESOLVED: That thinning of the oak tree at the top of the Green is approved for inclusion in a tree work contract.
- Oak tree bottom Village Green. The Committee discussed the situation where the tree has now reached the overhead telephone cables. Neither of the homeowners who are affected replied to the Clerk's last letter.
- Mountain ash bottom Village Green. Cllr Martin will remove the stake.
- Computer software. Windows 7 update obtained.
- Tree at Village Hall Car Park needs lifting. To ask Village Hall Management Committee whether they would like it to be included in the Parish Council tree work contract.
- Tree in sportsfield ditch needs to be removed. To ask Sports Association whether they would like it to be included in the Parish Council tree work contract.
B. The Public Playing Field & Recreation Ground Trust has approved the following work for the Council to undertake:
- Replacement of the half-moon litter bin on the fence of the playground with a larger bin. The Clerk/Finance Officer provided several designs for discussion. A recycled plastic bin the same as the one most recently installed just inside the playground gate would be satisfactory and relatively reasonable. However, the Committee agreed to defer any decision to allow them to consider installation of a recycling bin and how it would be emptied.
- Replacement of fence spiles. To be done as required.
- Adjustments to main gate. John Bartholomew to make the gate close. Insertion of a spring, unless as on the other gate, could add a fingertrap for children.
- Adjustment of swing chains. Being undertaken by John Bartholomew.
- Cat springer to be reset. John Bartholomew to be asked to try to tighten the bolts. Cllr Rand to advise if required.
- Replacement of bolts in Eagles Nest. Rubber stoppers used. John Bartholomew has tightened all the screws using an anti-vandal screwdriver he managed to obtain.
- Raising of equipment ropes. Completed by Cllrs Rand and Martin with assistance from a nearby farmer.
- Turning over fire-damaged tops of table. Done by John Bartholomew.
- Oak tree along Powdermill driveway needs suckers removing from trunk. RESOLVED: That removal of the suckers from the oak tree's trunk along Powdermill driveway to be included in the Parish Council tree work contract.
- Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA). The public had been informed through the Bulletin that the Trust is considering installation of a MUGA at the current tennis courts when the surfacing needs replacement, probably within the next five years. One person, purporting to be speaking for others in the neighbourhood near to the site, telephoned Cllr Glew to object to the idea although they did not object to the playing of tennis and netball there.
- Tennis Net replacement. No action.
- Replacement of the motorbike springer which has recently broken and removed. Cllr Rand reported that this equipment had snapped near the front. It was obtained through Record Playground Equipment and was manufactured by Meho. It was suggested that the product should have lasted longer than three years. The Clerk/Finance Officer had brought a series of designs of springers available from one company (Parkplay). RESOLVED: That the replacement of the motorbike springer should be deferred for the time being and that, instead, repair of the old product should be considered.
||Ladybird Lane. It was noted that Sedlescombe Parish Council's will be expected to contribute towards a future maintenance fund of Ladybird Lane from the entrance to the sportsfield car park from the 2011/12 financial year. A covenant on the sportsfield land requires the Parish Council to contribute towards maintenance of the road according to user. The maintenance fund is expected to be set up if the Tunbridge Wells Car Club undertakes work to the road prior to a Hill Climb Event it plans to run on Ladybird Lane in August of 2010. Negotiations will have to take place regarding the percentage split of the contributions from all users during the 2010/11 financial year.
Grounds Maintenance Contract 2010 season. Following approval by the Council, Roger's Gardening Services' contract for mowing has been extended for the 2010 season at the same price as 2009 but excluding, for the time being, the EVT Kickabout Area, pending negotiations with the Youth Service. If a lease of the Kickabout Area is not agreed, mowing at the Kickabout Area in 2010 will form a separate contract. The approved contract is as follows:
|Brede Lane Car Park
||20 cuts Feb to Nov
||20 cuts Feb to Nov removing arisings
|Riverside playground fenced-off area
||20 cuts Feb to Nov removing arisings
|Riverside Playing Field excluding fenced-off area
||16 cuts Mar to Oct
|Red Barn Field
||10 strims particularly termtime
||Litter collection contract from April 2010. The current contract whereby Roger Wood collects litter for £50/month (done twice) at the Kickabout Area and the Riverside expires on 31/03/10. RESOLVED: That the contract for litter collection at the Kickabout Area and Riverside is extended from 01/04/10 unless the Kickabout Area is taken over by the Youth Group when this part will be omitted or ended.
||Sweeping contract Pumphouse and bus shelter. See F09/10.18.13 above. Contract to commence January 2010.
||Hedge-cutting. With the removal of the Balcombe Green hedge at Red Barn Field from the list, the only hedges that the Parish Council is expected to cut in 2009 are at the Riverside between the footpath and Powdermills and at the Kickabout Area (see F09/10.18.2 above). RESOLVED: That R Wood's quote of £30 for cutting the Riverside hedge in November 2009 is accepted.
||Weed control contractor. RESOLVED: That a quote is obtained from Languard Ltd. for weed control in the same areas of Sedlescombe as previous years including monitoring and treatment of giant hogweed.
||2009 Pay settlement for clerks. RESOLVED That the Clerk is paid a revised salary of £13,768.65 for 2009/10 and 2010/11 until revised salary scales are announced, based on salary scale level 30 and 20 hours per week employment.
||Clerk's Gratuity Fund Investment. The Clerk reported that the Clerk's Gratuity Fund has been maintained by the Council for many years. For the last 2 years the Fund has been held in a Bank of Scotland guaranteed fixed rate 1-year deposit account which has earned interest of 6.02% and 6.73%. The interest has amounted to £3,502.75 over the two years on an initial deposit of £26,520. The bond has reached maturity today at £30,022.75. Unfortunately, the rate of interest for the 2009-10 year has fallen to 1.02%. The Clerk/Finance Officer has transferred the money from the Bank of Scotland to the Barclays Current Account pending a decision where it should be invested. Various fixed rate interest one-year bonds have been considered but unless arranging over the internet, the rate is about 2.25-2.5%. The Clerk/Finance Officer had contacted SALC re internet banking which was becoming essential for the Council. Other clerks had also been in contact about the same subject and SALC was pressurising NALC in getting changes to the law. RESOLVED: That the £30,022.75 should be transferred temporarily into the Council's Barclays Business Bonus Account, which gives a low rate of interest but where instant access is available, until a place paying an increased interest rate can be found, or internet banking allowed. The Committee was informed that the current holding is sufficient at the moment and next year to cover the two-years' salary in accordance with the Clerks' contract of employment, together with the employers' national insurance that will be due on this payment.
Grants to other bodies. £500 has been allocated in the 2009/10 budget. The following have been received:
- A request from the Chairman of the Rother District Council for donations towards The Rural Rother Trust. Parish councils are being asked to identify people in their parishes who could benefit with some assistance to get them into work, or simply to help out with a seemingly insolvable problem. No action.
- A request from the Chairman of the Battle Area Community Transport for donations towards expenses of the BACT. Leaflet e-mailed. RESOLVED: That because of the use made by Sedlescombe residents of the Battle bus, a grant of £100 should be made to Battle Area Community Transport.
||Sedlescombe Annual Report and Directory 2010. It was noted that 33 businesses advertised in the 2009 edition contributing £610 excluding VAT which covered the cost of the booklet's production, ie printing and postage. RESOLVED: That the Annual Report and Directory 2010 should be produced in a similar form to previous years with advertising space being sold for at least £20 including 17.5% VAT (rises in January 2010).
The following 2009/10 subscriptions were noted by the Committee:
- SALC 25p/elector (2p increase) About £276.50 based on 1106 electors.
- NALC 5.19/elector (0.5p increase) About £57.40 based on 1106 electors.
||First draft of the 2010/11 budget. The first budget was accepted by the Committee. Further consideration will be given at the next Finance Committee Meeting on 15/12/09.
- External Audit by Mazars 2008/09. It was noted that the 2008/09 audit of accounts had been completed satisfactorily after adjustments to exclude debtors and creditors from the bank reconciliation.
- Internal audit of 2009/10 accounts. Noted that Mrs Bennett has been appointed to carry out the internal audit of the 2009/10 accounts at the cost of £85.
- Effectiveness of the 2008/09 internal audit. The Clerk/Finance Officer left the meeting to allow the Committee to consider the effectiveness of the 2008/09 audit.
RESOLVED: That the Council is satisfied that Mrs Bennett was independent and competent in carrying out the internal audit of the Parish Council’s 2008/09 accounts, that the Audit Plan was appropriate and completed, that Mrs Bennett’s report to the Council was clear and that it was effective in giving the Council confidence in its financial procedures. However, Mrs Bennett should be informed that Mazars had objected to the inclusion of debtors and creditors in the final 2008/9 bank reconciliation.