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FINANCE MINUTES

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE OF SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2012 IN COMMITTEE ROOM 2 OF THE VILLAGE HALL, 18:00 TO 20:10

PRESENT: Cllr Glew (Chairman of Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Council), Cllrs Anson, Chapman (part), Eldridge. Cllr J Vine-Hall (Chairman of the Council)

Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer: Mrs P Raymond

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F12/13.16 Apologies and reasons for absence. None.
F12/13.17

Disclosure of personal and pecuniary interests by Councillors

  1. F12/13.20.2 part - Cllr Vine-Hall. Pecuniary interest in old fencing. To leave the meeting.
F12/13.18 Public Participation. No public present.
F12/13.19 Minutes. RESOLVED: That the Chairman of the Committee is authorised to sign the Minutes of the Meeting of the Finance Committee held on 26/06/12.
F12/13.20.1

Jobs Update (arising from previous Minutes) and 2012/13 Budget Monitoring

  1. Grass cutting, Red Barn Field (RBF). Annual cut not done. A local resident had written expressing his disappointment as the wildflowers have been doing so well. He said that, without cutting or grazing, the coarser grasses may take over and there will be few flowers next year. He suggested a spring cut. Members were sympathetic to David Blowey who usually cuts and bales the meadow as all farmers have struggled to cut their fields this year because of the very wet weather.
  2. Fruiting hedgerow, RBF. Quote obtained to clear around the base of hedge and trim. Members to consider getting together a volunteer working party to do the work.
  3. Bracken clearance, RBF. Completed by Conservation Volunteers who have suggested that it will not need doing next year.
  4. Portacabin removal from Sportsfield Car Park. Cllr Anson reported that he had attended the Sports Association Committee meeting the previous evening and no progress appeared to have made towards getting the portacabin removed.
  5. Sportsfield Car Park extension. At the last meeting in June, it was agreed that the Clerk in consultation with Cllrs Vine-Hall and Glew should take the Sportsfield Car Park extension project forward as soon as possible. Since then, a geophysics survey had taken place. No remains were found. The County Archaeologist had kept a watching brief while the area for the extension had been dug out by Phil Dann. No costs had been incurred by the Council. The Sports Association had given the order and are arranging the work. The Parish Council had paid for two rolls of Terram sheeting as a contribution, in addition to the meeting the cost of the planning application. Cllr Anson reported that the Sports Association was gradually obtaining hardcore for the extension and had found that Type 1 Roadstone will need to be obtained for the surface. The Clerk/RFO confirmed that the Parish Council will not be able to pay for the work and reclaim the VAT.
  6. Sportsfield Car Park ditch edges. It had been agreed that the edges of the whole ditch should be strimmed 2-3 times a year. The Sports Association had undertaken one strimming in August/September and the Council's part had been done by Roger's Gardening Services around the same time. Roger had not charged for his work. Cllr Anson reported that the Sports Association is persisting with its claim that the wetness of the south west corner of the Sportsfield is due to the Parish Council's contractor putting spoil on the Sportsfield side of the ditch during his clearance work. The Parish Council believes this is more likely to be due to the very wet weather this year.
  7. Sportsfield Direction Signs. A new banner had been attached to the fence at the rear of the pavilion guiding users to the car park along Ladybird Lane. It also stressed the importance of keeping the footway behind the pavilion open and free of parked cars. The Parish Council had recently been contacted by a resident concerning vehicles parking across this footway during matches and had asked that the Parish Council arranges hazard markers on the grass verge which is a responsibility of ESCC. It was confirmed that complainants should contact the Police if a footway is blocked by a parked vehicle on the highway. Cllr Anson reported that the Football Club will try to put out cones at the rear of the pavilion on match days to discourage parking across the footway.
  8. Parking in Ladybird Lane. The Sports Association has arranged for extra "no parking" signs to be erected along Ladybird Lane.
  9. Ladybird Lane surface. Nothing further heard re the various contributions from current and future Oaklands Park residents towards the top coat which will be required after the new properties have been completed.
  10. Bus Shelter. Cllr Chapman had agreed to fix the left bottom weatherboard.
  11. Planters, Village Green. Cllr Chapman had spoken to Mark Winchester of Blackbrooks who had agreed to provide the replacement plants in the future at cost price. The Garden Society members will arrange the planting. The need for the plants to be purchased appears to be at variance with previous correspondence between the Clerk/RFO and Blackbrooks.
  12. Seats. Cllr Chapman, who was absent from the meeting at the time, will be asked whether he can arrange for the following seats to be repaired.
    1. Outside Parish Church. One back slat rotten.
    2. Pumphouse southerly bench needs minor repairs.
    3. Riverside playground old seat. One slat to be replaced.
  13. School, path from Brede Lane Car Park to School Gate. Owner not willing to allow his land to be used for this purpose.
  14. Highway maintenance. ESCC has recently offered to carry out further minor maintenance work in the parish and a list of jobs proposed by councillors has been forwarded.
  15. East View Kickabout Area. A quote from Landscape Services for an autumn tidy up of the Kickabout Area was considered. The Clerk/RFO will check that the quote includes tree work to remove dead branches. DEFERRED to next meeting.
  16. Washing street furniture and play equipment. The Committee had been trying to find someone who would wash various pieces of street furniture and play equipment. Quotes from Landscape Services had been obtained. A copy of the prices to be passed to members. DEFERRED to next meeting.

2012/13 Budget and income and expenditure for the second quarter. Members had been sent hard copies of the figures prior to the meeting. RESOLVED: That the 2012/13 Second Quarter Review Figures are accepted.

F12/13.20.2

MUGA Project. The RFO reported that, at the last Council Meeting in September, the Council had approved a fencing quote total cost £13,400 including VAT, a surfacing quote total cost £18,948 including VAT and that a £9,000 loan should be obtained from the PWLB. The Clerk/RFO has arranged for the Loan to be procured on 25/10/12 and Cllrs Glew and Eldridge had signed the direct debit approval for the repayments. The amount will depend on the interest rate at the time the loan is obtained. The Clerk/RFO had had a site meeting with the two contractors and discussions had taken place regarding access, dumping of the tarmac on the grass and the position of the one gate. Clerk/RFO to confirm that a board will be placed on the grass before the tarmac is tipped. She will inform the owners of Powdermills and Millstones Cottage about the work. Although the contractor is keen to progress the surfacing work as soon as possible after the fencing has been done, the Council wishes it to be carried out in the spring when the ground conditions are improved.

 

Cllr Vine-Hall declared his pecuniary interest in the removal of the existing fence and left the meeting. RESOLVED: That Cllr Vine-Hall's offer to remove and dispose of the fencing from around the tennis courts foc is accepted. NB The Clerk/RFO had checked with the fencing contractor who had agreed to make a small reduction in his contract's cost to the Council.

F12/13.20.3

Sedlescombe 2013 Annual Report and Directory. The Committee noted that income from the sale of advertising excluding VAT was £535 for the 2012 Directory and that the cost of printing had been £508. The Committee considered the format for the 2013 Annual Report and Directory and agreed that the Reports/Directory should continue in the same form for 2013. It was RESOLVED: That a quote from Fastprint for printing copies for distribution to every home in the parish with a quantity of spares should be obtained.

 

It was further RESOLVED: That advertising space 60mmx50mm black and white will be invited at the cost of at least £21/advert including VAT of £3.50 towards the printing cost of the Reports/Directory.

 

The Committee discussed what to do about applications received throughout the year for advertising on the Council's website. Currently, local advertising for the website is accepted at the cost of £21 including VAT. It was RESOLVED: That, in future, businesses will be asked for £25 including VAT, for a line entry on the Business Page on the website.

F12/13.21

Annual Playground Inspection by Digley Associates. Members had been provided with copies of the report.

  1. Klondike. Cllr Chapman to replace the oak planks - cost £50. Cllr Anson reported that the replacement is now urgent.
  2. Play equipment with cables on the ground. Quote received from Landscape Services. Specification details to be obtained.
  3. Loose posts in the ground throughout the playground. It was agreed that these loose posts do not constitute a danger for children.
  4. Gate finger trap found by Dingle Associates professional inspector. Cllrs Chapman and Vine-Hall will try to find a way of closing the finger trap.
  5. Seat ironwork encased in concrete by Cllr Chapman. The Chairman thanked Cllr Chapman for his work.

A quote for the 2013 annual professional inspection had been received from Landscape Services. It was agreed that a quote would be requested from Digley Associates Ltd who had carried at the 2012 inspection.

F12/13.22

Village Inspection Reports and 2013/14 First Budget

  1. 2012 Village Inspections. Village Inspections had taken place attended by Cllr Glew, Cllr Anson, Cllr Parsons (part) and the Clerk/RFO. Members had been provided with the reports arising from the inspections. The Clerk/RFO was asked to send a letter of thanks to Margaret Hudson for the flower basket she had provided and maintained again this year on the village sign.
  2. Work Schedule for 2013/14. Quotes for various work in the parish had been invited. Two quotes had been received and these were considered by members. In addition, a separate quote for herbicide treatment in various areas as previously agreed had also been obtained. In accordance with the financial regulations, it was agreed that at least one more quote would be sought for the grounds maintenance and litter collection. The Clerk/RFO reported that she is awaiting answers to queries regarding some of the quotes, copies of the appropriate licences (ie chainsaw, herbicide spraying, waste transfer) and of insurance cover. DEFERRED to next meeting.

    A letter had been received from the Battle Area Community Transport asking for a grant towards the upgrade of vehicles. As the community bus is well used by local people, the Committee was minded to make a contribution. DEFERRED to next meeting to allow time for the Community Bus Management to provide a copy of the accounts.

  3. 2013/14 First Budget. The Clerk/RFO had drawn up a first budget for the next financial year. The Committee discussed the need to raise the precept to cope with increased costs. DEFERRED to next meeting.
F12/13.23

Audit of Accounts

  1. External audit of 2011/12 accounts by Mazars. A satisfactory audit had been completed. The following had been drawn to the Council's attention:

    "We note that reserves include a gratuity fund. We understand that, following the repeal of the 1996 Superannuation Regulations, councils can only make gratuity payments in the future where they were included as a contractual obligation in a contract of employment entered into before January 2012. Advice should be sought from NALC/SLCC before making any payments."

  2. Clerk's Gratuity.See Briefing Note 19 of 2012. The Briefing Note explains the position with the Clerk's Gratuity. It was noted that the Council is obliged to pay the Clerk a gratuity equal to two years' salary as detailed in her contract of employment dated 1979 and that the tax treatment needs to be cleared with HMRC at the time that the gratuity is paid.

  3. Appointment of external auditor for 2012/13 accounts. It was noted that The Audit Commission has appointed Littlejohn LLP as external auditor to audit the annual return of Sedlescombe Parish Council for five years from 2012/13. Members confirmed that they have no personal connection with this Company. Clerk/RFO to check with remaining councillors.

  4. Internal audit of Accounts.
    1. To note the following comments made on the 2011/12 internal audit:
      1. Financial Regulations should be reviewed once changes re approval of Council payments have been issued.
      2. Both councillors should initial all cheque stubs.
      3. Amendment of the Sports Association's booking form terms and conditions suggested to include requirements of the Parish Council in respect of risk.
      4. Risk assessments and appropriate and adequate event insurance cover certificates should be requested from all organisations wishing to hold events on Parish Council land. To be presented to the Clerk one month in advance of the event with copies retained by the Clerk. Councillors to consider this detailing this in a Terms and Conditions of use of Parish Council land agreement.
    2. RESOLVED: That Angela Alexander's quotation of £130 to carry out the internal audit of the Council's 2012/13 Accounts is accepted.
F12/13.24

Changes to signatories of current accounts. It was noted that the signatories for the following accounts are now Cllrs Vine-Hall, Glew and Eldridge:

  1. Barclays Community Account
  2. West Brom Direct Corporate Deposit Account
  3. Co-operative Bank Corporate Fixed Rate Deposit Account - 6 month term.
F12/13.25 Cheque Signatories Legislative Reform Order. The Government proposes repealing s150(5) of the Local Government Act 1972 whereby two councillors are required to sign orders for payment.
  1. Effectiveness of internal financial controls. RESOLVED: That the Parish Council is satisfied with the effectiveness of internal financial controls during the 2012/13 financial year to date.
  2. Proposals for changes to the internal financial controls in the light of the Government's proposal to repeal s150(5) of the LGA 1972. Members had receive a hard copy of the Clerk's Briefing Note "Proposals to Change Payment Methods by Sedlescombe Parish Council". RESOLVED: That the Parish Council approves the payment methods as detailed in the Clerk's Briefing Note dated 01/10/2012.
F12/13.26 Clerks' Salaries. NJC Pay update September 2012. Local Government Employees have confirmed that no pay offer will be made for 2012/13 but that they would wish to avoid a situation of not being able to make a pay offer for a fourth year in 2013/14. The unions were invited to start discussions on a range of issues covering pay, terms and conditions and reform of the national negotiating machinery with a view to reaching agreement for implementation on 01/04/13.
F12/13.27

Power of General Competence. It was noted that Sedlescombe is no longer eligible to obtain the Power of General Competence because, on the recent resignation of another councillor, there are no longer two thirds of members who are elected rather than co-opted (a requirement of the granting of this power) - ie four out of the nine elected in 2011 have now resigned from the Council (Anthony Rand, Valerie Wright, Patrick Martin and Julian Heap) and co-opted members have taken their place. The Power of General Competence gives a local council the power to do anything that an individual can do legally.

 

The Council has, however, retained the Power of Well-Being until the next elections. The Clerk/RFO explained that this power allows local councils to promote economic, social or environmental well-being to assist individuals, groups or the whole community whether residents or visitors. There is no restriction on the amount of money that can be spent. However, the Clerk/RFO will check the situation now that 80% of the current councillors have not undertaken the necessary training and training courses for the Power of Well-Being are no longer available.

F12/13.28

Sedlescombe Sportsfield. Members had been provided with hard copies of the Parish Council/Sports Association Lease dated 01/08/2005 and the Deed of Variation dated 09/11/2009. Cllr Anson reported that, in his opinion, the Lease needs to be amended. It was RECOMMENDED: That the Parish Council should consider entering into negotiations with the Sports Association to amend the terms of the 2005 Sportsfield Lease and the 2009 Deed of Variegation in order to safeguard the Council's interests.

 

 

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