SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL FINANCE COMMITTEE MINUTES

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE OF SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON TUESDAY 31 OCTOBER 2006 IN COMMITTEE ROOM 2 OF THE VILLAGE HALL, 19:30 TO 21:00

PRESENT: Cllr Mrs P Glew (Chairman), Cllr R Dellow, Cllr N Foord, Cllr Mrs M Irwin, Cllr Mrs V Wright (Chairman of the Council), Cllr A Rand (Vice Chairman of the Council). Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer: Mrs P Raymond

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F06/07.13 APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE. None, all present.

F06/07.14 MINUTES. The Chairman was authorised to sign the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 27/06/06.

F06/07.15 INTERESTS. Members were reminded to declare interests as they arose. None declared.

F06/07.16 REPORT ON MATTERS RAISED AT THE LAST MEETING

16.1 Red Barn Field GRP Sign. Delivery of the sign has been delayed but is expected shortly. One lectern needs refurbishment and the other removed. Cllrs Dellow and Rand will arrange.

16.2 Refurbishment of Village Sign. Complete and installed. Cllr Rand and Cllr Martin were thanked for their assistance.

16.3 Riverside Playground Refurbishment. Since the last committee meeting:
16.3.1 The refurbishment work has been completed apart from alteration to the bottom cable of the Niagara Falls. Post-installation inspection satisfactory apart from the lack (100mm on three sides) of safety surfacing around the orbiter roundabout. Robert Dudman is still in discussion with the playground company.
16.3.2 Rother District Council made a £4379 donation to the project.
16.3.3 The Playground was officially opened by Cllr Mrs Wright and the Clerk on 10 September. There was press coverage by Battle Observer and the Sussex Courier.

16.4 East View Terrace Playground Refurbishment. Craig Atkins of Orbit Housing Association had sent an e-mail saying that "it seems that the playground is very rarely used and due to its disrepair I will strongly suggest to our maintenance department that it is taken out. I am now of the opinion that the proposed swing will either be unused or used inappropriately."

The Committee was very concerned that the playground is due to be removed. Although there may not be many children under 10 currently living at East View, there could be in the future and a play area is considered essential for an estate of 110 houses. The Clerk was authorised to write to Orbit Housing Association.

16.5 Giant Hogweed Control. The 2006 application had been completed. It was RESOLVED: That Languard Ltd.'s quotation of £800 for the 2007 season treatment is accepted.

16.6 Complete Contractor Insurance. It was agreed that 2007 Complete Contractor Insurance for John F Cook should be included in the budget.

16.7 Sports Association Insurance. The Clerk reported receipt of confirmation of Employer's Liability Insurance cover. Further attempts will be made to obtain a copy of the confirmation of Public Liability Insurance cover.

16.8 Grant Aid application in connection with Bulletin. The Clerk reported that the application for funding to improve the Bulletin from the Parish Plans grants had been withdrawn because of the requirements to alter the Bulletin into a different type of publication. Residents who completed the 2006 pre-budget survey form were very satisfied with the current publication.

16.9 Financial implications of www.sedlescombe.org.uk, the new Sedlescombe Parish Council website. Cllr Mrs Wright commended the excellent website to the Committee. The Committee was informed that the costs were as follows:

Hosting set up
£10
Hosting for one year
£36
Domain name for two years
£5
Total
£51

The Clerk informed the Committee that, after the new website had been launched, Rother District Council had written to parishes offering a virtually free website. It was RECOMMENDED: That no action is taken.

F06/07.17 REPORT FROM MAZARS, AUDITOR. The audit of the 2005/6 accounts had been completed satisfactorily. The Committee noted that the auditor had highlighted the incorrect treatment of an unpresented cheque.

F06/07.18 FINANCIAL STATEMENT. Members had been provided with a copy of the monthly totals of income and expenditure for the half year to 30/09/06. It was RESOLVED: That the Financial Statement for the Half-Year is noted.

F06/07.19 SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL ANNUAL REPORT/DIRECTORY. The Committee agreed that this is a useful publication and members reported that they have directed residents to it when they are looking for local businesses. Members suggested the following: 1) That it should be made clear that all correspondence to the Council or members should be sent to the Clerk. Members' addresses should be omitted; 2) That attempts should be made by members to encourage advertising by a wide range of services - the usefulness of including a reliable sweep was mentioned. The Committee noted that the winner of the Annual Report of the Year had been Halewood Town Council and that the judges had been impressed with their annual report because it "encourages two-way communication, with its customer satisfaction survey". The Committee did not want to recommend inclusion of a similar survey in the Sedlescombe report.

Printing the last publication cost £490 for 750 copies. Advertising space was sold to 34 businesses for at least £15 each (including VAT), realising a total of £448. This left £42, or 6p a household, subsidy from the Parish Council.

It was RECOMMENDED: That a similar A5 booklet is produced in 2007 increased to 40 pages if necessary with an increased print run of 800.

F06/07.20 GRANT AID TO OTHER BODIES. It was RECOMMENDED: That the following policy be adopted regarding applications for grant aid from the Parish Council -

Applications may be made throughout the year. However, preferably, applications should be submitted prior to the Parish Council's November Council Meeting so that the Council can decide whether it should raise the required money via the local precept for the following financial year (available 1 April).

Applicants should write to or e-mail the Clerk and include, as a minimum:

20.1 Rural Rother Trust. An application for funding had been received. It was RECOMMENDED: That the Council, in accordance with its powers under sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972, should incur the following expenditure which, in the opinion of the Council, is in the interests of the area or its inhabitants and will benefit them in a manner commensurate with the expenditure:- a grant of £50 to the Rural Rother Trust. A note will be put in The Bulletin bringing this charity to the attention of residents.

20.2 Sussex Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group. The Council was invited to subscribe £35 for the October 2006 to September 2007 year to FWAG. NO ACTION.

20.3 Sussex Playing Fields Association. It was RECOMMENDED: That the usual subscription is sent to the Playing Fields Association.

20.4 Battle Area Community Transport. Accounts had been requested but not received. It was noted that it had been reported at RALC that finances are much improved now that the car scheme has been removed. Cllr Mrs Wright reported that, out of the Chairman's Allowance, she had sponsored a hole at the recent Sedlescombe Golf Tournament which was in aid of BACT. NO FURTHER ACTION TO BE TAKEN THIS YEAR.

20.5 Relate. An application for funding had been received without accounts. NO ACTION.

F06/07.21 GRANT AID FROM OTHER BODIES. The Clerk informed the Committee that some grant aid was available currently from Biffa (up to £50,000 but not applications from Parish Councils, up to £5000 for applications from Parish Councils); from the Big Lottery Fund (2 funding streams - the Children's Play Programme and the Playful Ideas Programme); Battle Partnership, last applications by 31/12/06 (between £250 and £2000 with 50% match funding being required. Must meet Battle Partnership's Strategic Objects for The Economy, The Environment, Social & Community, Transport and Accessibility).

F06/07.22 PRE-BUDGET SURVEY. Members had been provided with the Clerk's Report on the Survey that had taken place in September/October 2006. Residents were asked to tick one of the following - 1 Poor - Council Tax should be raised to improve the standard; 2 Reasonable - but would be willing to pay for some minor improvements; 3 No changes needed. 10.6%, ie 69, completed forms were returned. By far and away the majority of Sedlescombe residents wanted "no change". A series of comments had also been made and action would be taken as appropriate. It was noted that some of the comments seemed to show that some residents are not aware of what is already being done locally by the Parish Council.

F06/07.23 FIRST BUDGET AND NOTES. Members had been provided with the first draft budget for 2007/8 together with notes.
Sportsfield Fund. It was RECOMMENDED: That the Sportsfield Fund is increased by £5000 in case a Parish Council loan is needed to make up the shortfall in funding for the new pavilion.

Path in front of Queen's Head.
It was RECOMMENDED: That, on completion of a satisfactory safety audit, East Sussex County Council's quote of £3389 be accepted for a footway in front of the Queen's Head.

Professional playground inspections.
Members considered quotes for professional playground inspections at the Riverside but decided not to change the current inspection schedule apart from giving parish councillors the opportunity not to be included. It was agreed that appropriate training for councillors would be considered. £1041 which had been included in the draft 2007/8 playing field expenditure budget would be moved into general funds.

Work in accordance with Minute BV06/07.12. Members considered and approved the Best Value and Community Projects Committee's project planning for jobs in 2006/7 and 2007/8 apart from the following:

Chairman.................................................. Date.......................................................