SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL FINANCE COMMITTEE MINUTES (in draft until approved)

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE OF SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON TUESDAY 11 DECEMBER 2007 IN COMMITTE ROOM 2 OF THE VILLAGE HALL 19:30 TO 21:25

PRESENT:  Cllr P Glew (Chairman of the Committee), Cllrs Irwin, Dellow, Martin.  Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer:  Mrs P Raymond.

Cllr Rand was present for a short while during the debate on the Sportsfield Pavilion (F07/08.29.1)

F07/08.25 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE were received from Cllr Wright (bereavement) and Cllr Rand (working).

F07/08.26 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST.  Members were reminded to declare their interests in matters on the agenda.  The following interests were declared:

F07/08.29.11 Cllrs Glew, Irwin, Dellow & Martin - Personal interests - By virtue of the Council being the sole Trustee of the Playing Field Trust.

F07/08.30 Cllrs Glew, Irwin, Dellow & Martin - Personal/prejudicial interests - By virtue of the Council being the sole Trustee of the Playing Field Trust. Pursuant to a dispensation granted by the Standards Committee on 11/09/07, members are entitled to remain in the room, to speak and vote on matters relating to the Trust

F07/08.27 Public participation.  No public present.

F07/08.28 Minutes.  RESOLVED:  That the Minutes of the Meeting of the Finance Committee held on 16/10/07 are approved.

F07/08.29 Arising from the Minutes
29.1 Sportsfield Fund and Pavilion update.  Members were provided with details of the Sports Pavilion Fund to date.

The Clerk/RFO reminded the Committee that the Parish Council must show in its applications for major funding that the construction of the pavilion, which will now cost up to £330,000, will be value for money and will increase the playing of sport in this area.  The rise in expected costs can be accounted for by the need to increase the size of the facility in order to meet the Football Foundation’s requirements.  Research carried out by the Clerk/RFO and the Chairman in connection with completion of Football Foundation and the Big Lottery Fund application forms has revealed that the Football Foundation’s expectations could lead the Parish Council to providing a facility in excess of what is required by the sports clubs in Sedlescombe.

Cllr Rand and Cllr Dellow reported that the Sports Association is expected to write to the Parish Council expressing a similar view.

It was agreed that an informal meeting of parish councillors and Sports Association members should be held on Tuesday 18 December starting at 20:00 in a village hall committee room.

29.2 Village Security Fund and return of unspent money in the PCSO overtime pot.  The Chairman reminded members that the Auditors had queried what the Village Security Fund is for and, therefore, she suggested that the £7,500 it contains should be moved into General Funds.  The Fund will be increased soon by £190 on receipt of the money remaining in the PCSO overtime pot which has been reclaimed from Sussex Police.   Cllr Dellow reminded members that the money had been provided in connection with the Safer Sedlescombe Scheme and should, he suggested, be used for a “safety” purpose.  He would like to see it put towards provision of a footway in Sandrocks and, maybe, in Brede Lane for the School.  It is also likely that the Neighbourhood Watch Group might need to apply for additional funding.  RESOLVED:  That £7,500 should be moved into General Funds, together with the £190 when received from the Police and the Village Security Fund closed.

F07/08.29.3 Grant aid to other bodies including consideration of request from Homecall  (support for visually-impaired people in East Sussex) for a grant.  Members were informed that only £25 remains out of the £500 budget under this heading.  Whilst Homecall is no doubt a worthy charity, the Parish Council has already supported the East Sussex Association for the Blind and it was therefore decided to take no action.

F07/08.29.4 SALC/NALC subscription.  The Clerk/RFO reported that Cllr Wright had not proposed a discounted subscription for Quality Councils as had been proposed because Rye was not able to attend the SALC AGM and no other local council was willing to be a seconder.   A suggestion had been made to RALC that ESCC and Rother should be asked to support RALC but no reply had been received.  No discounts will be available on the subscriptions for the 2008/9 year.

F07/08.29.5 Software.  It was noted that the Creative Suite 3 Master Collection had been purchased and is in use.

F07/08.29.6 Clerk’s Salary.  The Clerk/RFO left the room.  On 01/11/07, NALC issued details of the recommended salary award for clerks backdated to 01/04/07.  Pauline Raymond’s spinal column point has been set at 30 which works out at £12.757/hour.  She is employed for 20 hours a week ie £255.14 a week or £13,267.88 p.a. or £1105.61 a month.

Between April and November 2007, the Clerk had been paid an increased amount in accordance with the budget of £1105 a month, leaving backpay of 8 months at 61p/month = £4.88.

RESOLVED:  That the Clerk’s Salary for the 2007/8 financial year should be set at £1,105.61/month based on SCP30 and employment of 20 hours/week.

The Clerk/RFO returned to the meeting.

F07/08.29.7 Rother street cleaning and litter.  Cllr Dellow reported picking up several plastic bags of dog excrement in Brede Lane.  No further complaints about litter or dog bin emptying had been received since the last meeting.

F07/08.29.8 Pump.  Members were provided with a briefing note.  The Clerk/RFO had been investigating the feasibility of refurbishing the derelict pump casing on the Village Green beneath the Grade II Listed shelter known locally as “The Pumphouse”.  The pump provided the main water supply for the Village up to 1956 but has stood unused since.  It is known that the oak liner to the pump was replaced in 1933 and that, in the 1980s, the liner was set alight resulting in some of the casing melting.  This fire and probable decay of the liner is causing the top of the casing to tilt to one side.  The inscription has been defaced.  Professional advice has been sought.  Subsequently, a quote has been obtained which suggests that a new timber liner made from 50mm Iroco hardwood could be constructed and what could be salvaged of the outer material replaced or new panels provided.  A budget of £3,000 had been included in next year’s figures but this would not cover the estimated cost of the refurbishment let alone the cost of replacing the iron railings in order to lend some protection.  The local office of English Heritage had been e-mailed twice asking if this was the sort of project that would be eligible for grant aid but no reply had been received.

Members were asked to consider whether the pump casing etc. should be removed altogether and the well sealed off or, alternatively, left as it is.  The Committee agreed that the pump is an important historical feature of Sedlescombe that should be preserved as far as possible.  Members suggested that no decision is made until after the Annual Parish Assembly in April 2008 when those attending can be asked for their views.

F07/08.29.9 Brede Lane Car Park.  The Clerk/RFO had met with Alan Smith, the Rother DC Projects & Building Maintenance Officer, at the Car Park on 17/10/07 in order to consider how the layout of the car park could be made more user-friendly.  Mr Smith had written to the Council subsequently agreeing to have the recycling bins moved to the top of the car park by the Doctors’ surgery in order to free up the bottom of the car park.  The Clerk/RFO will chase this up.

F07/08.29.10 Red Barn Field.  The Clerk reported that she did not know who had cut the grass in the field in the Autumn.  She had contacted the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers who had cleared the pond previously but had found that it would now cost £100 to get the pond cleared by the volunteers.  Cllrs Martin and Dellow agreed to sort it out after Christmas.

F07/08.29.11 Use of the tennis courts.  ALL COUNCILLORS DECLARED THEIR PERSONAL INTERESTS BY VIRTUE OF THE COUNCIL BEING THE SOLE TRUSTEE OF THE SEDLESCOMBE PLAYING FIELD AND RECREATION GROUND TRUST.  IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CODE OF CONDUCT, THEY REMAINED IN THE MEETING.  A meeting of the Trust had agreed that the courts could be used for netball and the Clerk/RFO had met two members of the Sedlescombe Netball Club who are investigating adding the lines of a netball court to the tennis lines already in existence.  The Club appears to be well supported and there are enough ladies to have two teams.  Nearly all of them come from Sedlescombe and they would like to be based in Sedlescombe both for indoor and outdoor games and training.  Cllr Irwin was concerned about the confusion that might be caused by different sets of lines but it was explained that it is not unusual to have lines for several sports in different colours on one court.  Further contact from the Netball Club is awaited. 

F07/08.29.12 De La Warr Charitable Trust.  Nothing to report.

F07/08.29.13 Redecoration of “Sir John Keeling” seats on top Green.  The three seats had been donated to the Village in memory of Sir John who died 30 years ago next year.  The 2006 Village Inspection had identified the seats for smartening up and it was suggested that 2008 would be a suitable year.  Rather than having the seats taken away for refurbishment, members decided the work should be done locally.  It was agreed that the 2007/8 budget should be adjusted downwards.

F07/08.30 2008 grounds maintenance tenders and recommendation to Council.  ALL COUNCILLORS DECLARED THEIR PERSONAL/PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS BY VIRTUE OF THE COUNCIL BEING THE SOLE TRUSTEE OF THE SEDLESCOMBE PLAYING FIELD AND RECREATION GROUND TRUST.  PURSUANT TO THE DISPENSATION GRANTED BY THE STANDARDS COMMITTEE ON 11/09/2007, ALL MEMBERS REMAINED IN THE ROOM AND TOOK PART IN THE DISCUSSIONS, AS ENTITLED.  Tenders from Southern Counties Landscapes and Roger Wood had been received and were opened at the meeting.  RECOMMENDED:  That Roger Wood’s grass and hedge cutting quotations, in accordance with the schedule and work items list provided, totalling £2,140, for the season February to November 2008 are accepted by the Council.

F07/08.31 Bus Shelter land.  In September 2007, SPC’s Planning Committee was informed that although the Parish Council had provided the bus shelter, it did not own the land.  Until 1985, the Council had been granted a licence by the owner who was then Whitbread Fremlins.  In connection with the approved development at Park View, Sedlescombe, the developer is being required by ESCC to replace the bus shelter as well as providing drop kerbs on both sides of the road.  The current landowner, Paul Thomas, has offered to give the Council the land free of charge as long as it pays for all the legal expenses.  A quote of £250 has been received from Paul Thomas’s Solicitor and a similar sum is  expected to be charged by the Council’s Solicitor.  This year’s budget has £500 in it for legal expenses so it is within the Finance Committee’s remit to approve.  RESOLVED:  That Meneers is instructed to send a draft Transfer to Heringtons regarding the transfer of the land on which the bus shelter stands outside Pollards in The Street to Sedlescombe Parish Council.

F07/08.32 Asset Register.  Members had been provided with copies of the 2007 Asset Register.  RESOLVED:  That the Asset Register as provided is approved.

F07/08.33 Employment of a handyman.  In response to the Autumn 2007 electors’ survey, one person had suggested that the Council should employ a retired person as a handyman.  Members were asked to consider the suggestion.  It was agreed that the Council should not employ anyone because of the additional costs and problems that are associated with employment.  RESOLVED:  That odd jobs should continue to be done by contractors on an ad hoc basis.

F07/08.34 Litter collection.  Roger Wood has been contracted to collect litter and empty bins since April.  RECOMMENDED:  That Roger Wood should be continue to be contracted to collect litter and empty bins for the remainder of this financial year and for the whole of next year at the same rate as currently.

F07/08.35 Travel Allowances.  NALC has issued details of revised mileage allowances.  RECOMMENDED:  That the Council should adopt the recommended mileage rate of 55.8p/mile for councillors and the Clerk backdated to 12/11/07.  NB For travel outside the parish only.

F07/08.36 Travel Allowance for Sedlescombe Lift Scheme Drivers.  RECOMMENDED:  That the Council should recommend that the Lift Scheme Drivers should charge a revised mileage rate of 55p/mile with immediate effect.  Christmas cards and letters with this information will be sent to each driver.

F07/08.37 Basic Allowances for Sedlescombe Parish Councillors from 01/04/08.  Members had, in the past (F06/07.33), voted against adopting a basic allowance scheme for councillors in Sedlescombe.  However, some councillors are “out of pocket” because they are buying ink cartridges and paper etc. for Council business and cannot be reimbursed other than through an adopted scheme.  Although members are still loathe to adopt an allowance scheme because of the additional burden on the Council Taxpayer, it was agreed to put the matter on hold until further information regarding revised recommended allowances is received from Rother.  It should be noted that Parish Basic Allowances are treated as pay for tax and national insurance purposes and Councillors are treated as employees of the Parish Council for these purposes.  It is possible for a Parish Council to agree to pay its members Parish Basic Allowances and then leave it to the individual councillor to refuse the payment.

F07/08.38 Clerk’s expenses from 01/04/08.  RECOMMENDED:  That the Clerk should receive the following expenses from 01/04/08:

F07/08.39 Chairman’s Allowance from 01/04/08.  For the first time, the Chairman’s Allowance has, this year, been set at a maximum of £200 but the Chairman is drawing the money as it is spent.  To date, around £100 has been spent.  RECOMMENDED:  That a Chairman’s Allowance of £200, under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1972, is allocated for the 2008/09 financial year which the Chairman can draw on as required.

F07/08.40 Responsible Financial Officer’s delegated financial powers.  RECOMMENDED:  That the RFO’s delegated financial powers should be extended to include:  a) purchase of stationery including copier toner up to the annual budget figure and b) booking training for councillors and the Clerk/RFO up to the annual budget figure,  to take effect retrospectively to 01/04/2007.

This will be in addition to existing RFO delegated powers of a) purchase of petty cash items up to £20/month (approved F06/07.11.1) and b) approval of minor grounds maintenance expenses up to £75/month (approved F06/07.11.2).

F07/08.40 Revised 2007-8 budget and F07/08.41 2008-9 second draft budget.  The Clerk/RFO had provided members with a booklet 2008-09 Budget Preparations - Second.  Various amendments were agreed including amendment of the precept amount to £29,000.  It was noted that the previous three years’ precepts had been held at £28,270.   RESOLVED:  That the budget should be amended for presentation to the Council on 8 January 2008 for final approval of the precept.

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