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CLERK'S BRIEFING NOTE 14-12

RFO'S 2011-12 END-YEAR FINANCIAL REPORT


1. GENERAL FUNDS. The Parish Council ended the 2011-12 financial year with roughly £16,300 held in its general funds which is in line with recommendations of retaining one half to one third of the precept amount in general funds. This included £4,000 allocated for surfacing work to Ladybird Lane in accordance with a letter to Pestalozzi's Chief Executive on 13/05/10. This followed the Council's agreement in principle to contribute towards the road's repair (in accordance with requirements of the Title Deeds of the Sportsfield). Since the letter was sent, it has been found that the culvert beneath the entrance to the Sportsfield is NOT broken AND and no repairs are required. No correspondence regarding this work has been received from Pestalozzi or the developer since May 2010. The developer has, at his own expense, carried out initial surfacing work. He has started to build six new large properties in the grounds of Pestalozzi. The £4,000 (equivalent to a £6 Band D Council Tax payment) has been moved forward to the 2012-13 budget.

2. CLERK'S GRATUITY FUND. Confirmation was received in in a letter dated 26/08/11 from a Government Minister that the Council must pay the a gratuity to the Clerk when appropriate in accordance with her contract despite the obligation on employers to pay gratuities to staff in the future being revoked. The Fund has been increased to allocate sufficient to take account of the cost of the Council's national insurance payments in connection with the gratuity. The amount of the gratuity payable to the Clerk has not increased because there has been no change in salary again this year.

3. SPORTSFIELD FUND. A small amount is left in the Sportsfield Fund (re pavilion build) but this has been committed for the Sportsfield Car Park extension.

4. SPORTS ASSOCIATION. This year saw the Sports Association appealing to the Parish Council for help regarding the ditch along the southern and eastern boundaries of the Sportsfield. By the lease, the Sports Association is responsible for maintaining the ditch on the southern boundary apart from the section at the car park that remains with the Parish Council. The Pestalozzi International Village is responsible for the ditch on the eastern boundary. Major clearance work was required because of the lack of work that had been carried out by all of these parties in this respect over several years. The Sports Association did not have the money to pay for the clearance work and asked the Parish Council to take it back. The Council agreed that, on this occasion only, it would arrange clearance of the whole ditch to the river. Donations towards the work were received from Pestalozzi and the Football Club. The Sports Association was asked to budget for future ditch clearance and the Parish Council's Sports Association representative should ensure that this is done.

A major problem at weekends with parking in Ladybird Lane, mainly by sportsfield users, arose this year because of the popularity of the Sedlescombe Rangers Football Club which has two senior teams and fourteen junior teams. The Sportsfield Car Park is excluded from the lease of the field. The Football Club spent several months negotiating with Pestalozzi to lease land adjoining the Sportsfield to use for a football pitch and parking but without conclusion.

The Parish Council was asked by the Sports Association to help finance an extension of the car park. A quote of more than £8,000 was obtained and rejected for installation of grass reinforcement matting. The Sports Association suggested various other work, partly to be undertaken professionally and partly by volunteers. Plans have been drawn up and are ready for submission to Rother for planning approval. Unfortunately, this is now held up owing to the land being within an archaeological notification area requiring further work by the Architect. It is likely that this will mean an additional cost if planning permission is approved for meeting an archaeological condition (maybe up to an additional £1,000). The Sports Association has applied for £2000 funding from the Sussex Community Foundation for the car park extension work and the Parish Council has agreed to pay for the planning fees and contribute £580 towards the work as long as the Sports Association undertakes it and uses its voluntary labour.

Using funds being held in the pavilion fund, the Parish Council closed off the old entrance and replaced the fencing in front of the pavilion.

Other work still remains outstanding especially with removal of the Council's portacabin from the Sportsfield car park. This is held up because it is full of Sports Association property.

4. LAND SALE. Following the clearance of the Budget Car Company from land adjacent to The Street, the land has been put up for sale for £125,000 or for £12,500 p.a. rent. Extant planning permission allows the parking and selling of cars from the land in accordance with approval granted in 1981.

5. BUS SHELTER. The bus shelter had become dilapidated during the time the Council was waiting for developers of land to the rear of The Street to start building. The relevant planning permission requires the developer to pay for improvements to the bus stop. However, the development has been delayed and, therefore, the Council decided to use the funds not required for the election to carry out a major repair of the shelter including installation of a new roof. It took three tries before a contractor could be found to carry out the repairs.

6. PUBLIC CAR PARK AND PUBLIC CONVENIENCES. The Parish Council has this year signed a further 5-year maintenance agreement of the car park with Rother District Council in return for a small tiwce-yearly donation from Rother.

This year, Rother District Council has been consulting on devolvement of various of its services to parishes. Future devolvement is not expected to include any funding from Rother DC because they believe that parish councils should raise their precepts to pay for local services although Rother DC may undertake refurbishment of its public conveniences before handing them over to parishes. Sedlescombe Parish Council is not currently interested in taking over the running of the car park and the public conveniences.

7. SCHOOL REQUESTS FOR FUNDING. This year has seen a considerable rise in the number of requests for funding from the School particularly regarding highway safety and parking issues. This has included purchase of additional land to extend the public car park to cater for some of the cars coming to bring or collect children from School or for teacher/helper parking, clearance of snow and ice from the public car park, providing a new rear gate and clearance of a path into the School, surfacing a path and sorting out the muddy areas on a public footpath from East View to the School. In April 2012, the Council was also asked to fund the employment of a school crossing patrol and to provide a path from the School gate into the car park. To date, none of these requests have been agreed to.

8. PUBLIC PLAYING FIELD & RECREATION GROUND. This year, the Parish Council signed a Maintenance Agreement with the Trust whereby the Council will carry out all the maintenance at the ground using its own funds. There will no longer be a need to pass funds backwards and forwards from one account of the Parish Council to another.

Because the existing fencing beside the river in the playground area was becoming dilapidated, it was completely replaced this year by the Council.

9. SPORTS IMPROVEMENT AND ENCOURAGEMENT INITIATIVE 2012. A £54,000 project has been drawn up to provide a MUGA, outdoor fitness equipment and a mini-kickers football pitch at the Public Playing Field & Recreation Ground. Because of VAT Partial Exemption issues, the Charity is planning to carry out this initiative without reclaiming any of the VAT. Some funding has been obtained and other applications including a Lottery funding application have been submitted. Results expected up to early July. If the Lottery funding is not obtained, the plan will probably have to be significantly reduced and may include the need for an additional loan to be obtained by the Parish Council. A £14,000 loan has been included in the 2012-13 budget together with one loan repayment. Part of the initiative is to have various training events to encourage use of the area. It is expected that these will be more or less self-financing.

10. FUTURE

Playing Field & Recreation Ground - future maintenance costs of £400 p.a. will need to be allocated for the MUGA with a further £1,500 p.a. saving towards the next resurfacing. If a loan is required, this will mean additional costs. Altogether, this would mean a possible additional £4.50 on the Band D Council Tax.

Ex-Car Lot land in The Street - if the Parish Council decides to attempt to purchase the land, it could put about an additional £11 p.a. on the Band D Council Tax although this could be reduced by various means. Further costs might be incurred following purchase as well as future maintenance costs.

Public Car Park and Public Conveniences. Salehurst and Robertsbridge Parish Council has estimated a £10,000 p.a. running cost for its car park and public conveniences. If this cost were to be incurred in Sedlescombe, it would add a further £15 p.a. to the Band D Council Tax Band each year.

School requests. Most of the requests have not been costed but, where they involve land purchase, they could be quite expensive. The employment of a School crossing patrol is said to be £2,200 p.a., a further £3.30 on the Band D Council Tax.

These costs are in addition to rising maintenance costs, administration expenses and legal requirements such as contributions towards maintenance of the Powdermills driveway and Ladybird Lane up to the Sportsfield Car Park.

Clerk/RFO,
Sedlescombe Parish Council

26 April 2012