NORTHAW & CUFFLEY PARISH COUNCIL MINUTES OF COUNCIL MEETING, HELD AT 7.30pm ON THURSDAY 14th SEPTEMBER 2017, IN THE CUFFLEY HALL MEETING ROOM.
Present: Councillor Sally Pollitt – Chairman, Councillor Bob Stubbs – Vice Chairman, Councillor Christine Burrows, Councillor Mike Clark, Councillor Jane Brook, Councillor Peter Dace.
Clerk & Proper Officer, Jason Grocock
PCSO Katie Wilkinson – For part of Meeting.
There were no Members of the public present.
Apologies were reported by the Clerk and accepted from Councillors Allgood and Wilcox. Apologies had also been received from Charles Walker, Ward Councillors Irene Dean, Bernard Sarson, & George Michaelides, and County Councillor Stephen Boulton.
57/17 Declaration of Interests:
A declaration of none-pecuniary interest was accepted from the Chairman, Cllr. Pollitt, as a Trustee of Cuffley Hall.
58/17 Minutes of the Council Meeting on 18th July 2017:
The Council accepted the Clerk’s Minutes of the Council Meeting on 18th July, which had been circulated before the summons for the current meeting, as a correct record. There were no matters arising from the Minutes raised.
59/17 Update from the Local Police:
PCSO Katie Wilkinson presented the details of all crimes recorded during the previous month, along with a detailed account of her recent activities and the recent incidents of note within the Parish.
It was noted that fly-tipping should be reported as a crime, as well as notifying the Borough Council regarding removal. PCSO Wilkinson was thanked for her attendance and reports.
60/17 PCSO Service Review:
Agenda Item 7 was taken next as it follows naturally from the PCSO report. The Chairman commented that the service was now operating well, and we now have the monitoring meetings, along with attendance at priority setting meetings, with the first one taking place in the previous week. Regarding any significant drug issues it would be possible to park a Police Car in the area to deter activity. It would also be possible to organise use of the Speed Gun by residents again.
“Nottingham Knockers” were also in evidence again in the Parish.
61/17 External Audit Query:
The Clerk had circulated a briefing note in advance of the Meeting, and had asked BDO several times for clarification of the reasons for raising again the issue of availability of the Annual Accounts to the Public during the previous year’s Annual External Audit. The basic problem was that the Council had published a notice making the 2015-16 Accounts available to the Public for a period greater than 30 working days, which was the required specific period, including two days in July, in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2011. The Vice Chairman had studied the Regulations and concluded that the requirements were not clear. BDO and the Council’s Internal Auditor had commented that many Local Councils had been picked up on the same issue. The Council had not actually started the inspection period too early, but had published a date which in the event was too early, because the Meeting to approve the Accounts was rearranged for a later date to ensure that a quorum was available. The Chairman asked how this could be prevented from happening in the future, and the Clerk confirmed that we could in future notify the last possible day for publication to ensure that the June meeting to approve the accounts is before the date announced for publication.
Reports from Committees & Working Parties:
62/17 Planning Applications Committee:
Cllrs Stubbs commented briefly on the meetings since the last Full Council Meeting in July, and there had been 19 applications dealt with. Cllr. Brooks asked if the Planning Applications Committees could be organised as regular slots, as it is difficult for her to fit in with changing intervals and dates for meetings. By custom and practice, the Deputy Clerk advises on the numbers of applications outstanding and in view of that, the dates is set by the Chairman of the Committee to ensure that deadlines for comments can be met. Cllr. Stubbs suggested that the problem may be solved by moving to evening meetings. It was confirmed that the next Meeting would be at 4-00 pm on 3rd October 2017, but Cllr. Brook had a problem with this date also. The Vice Chairman agreed to review the number of applications waiting on 29th September and then E-mail our suggested dates for the next two meeting, and that was accepted.
63/17 Policy & Resources Committee:
The Chairman reported on the main items dealt with by the Meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee held on Tuesday 5th September 2017. This included the Review of the PCSO; the Health & Safety Group; the Parish Council Review, where a list of questions has been circulated; the Clerk’s Outstanding Projects List Progress Update; the Clerk’s Budget Strategy Discussion; and the Vice Chairman provided an update of the Local Plan progress. There were no recommendations for the Full Council.
64/17 There had been no meetings of the Personnel & Urgency Committee, or the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party.
65/17 Health & Safety Group:
The Group had started putting the Health & Safety Policy together. There was now an accident book in the office. A Health & Safety Check List had been circulated. It was noted that the Ambulance which recently attended an accident in the Car Park did not carry the standard FB Key. The proposed Policy would come back to the next P&R Committee.
66/17 The 125 years Commemoration Group had not met.
67/17 Parish Council Review:
The proposed list of questions for the Consultant had been circulated before the Meeting and the Chairman referred to the need for returning to do more monitoring and then invited discussion.
68/17 Cllr. Stubbs then suggested that, as the Clerk knew the way the organisation worked better than anyone, he should produce the list on a traffic light basis to prioritise the list, and in that way reduce the list to a more manageable project. Councillors could also feed in views. This was agreed by the Council as the way forward and the Clerk’s proposed list with the traffic-light indications would be put to the next meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee.
69/17 The Chairman also commented that the Clerk could highlight the areas where risk assessments were required, taking account of previous relevant comments by the external auditors
70/17 Budget Strategy & Longer Term Payments:
The Clerk presented a briefing sheet with the key headings of budget movements, such as Inflation, committed growth, potential budget reductions where budgets have been underspent in most of the previous 3 to 4 years, and the agreement in the previous year that the growth in budget of over £50,000= for the costs of objecting to the Local Plan would be return to the local residents in the form of a reduction in Precept. Members discussed the issues and agreed that a budget reduction well above the £50,000= could be made in preparing the budget and precept for 2018-19. The Clerk would report to the November Policy & Resources Committee with more details, and the final proposed budget would be presented to the January 2018 Council Meeting.
71/17 Outside Committee Reports:
The Cuffley Hall Management Committee:
The Chairman reported on the Cuffley Hall Management Committee. Marie Linane would be retiring at the end of September 2017 and a replacement was now in post and being trained to be ready to take over from Marie.
The Kidston Institute:
Nothing significant to report.
Northaw Village Hall:
Nothing to report.
Welwyn Hatfield Association of Local Councils:
The Clerk confirmed that there had been no meetings.
72/17 Budget Monitoring Report – Year to Date:
The Clerk circulated a handout and outlined the main variations of actual spend from the allocated budget to date. An estimated outturn position was also provided, and comparisons with the previous year budget and spend. The report indicated significant underspends on almost all heading, with a total underspend on Overheads of almost £87,000= for the year to date. There was a shortfall on Income for the year to date of £4,590= reflecting for the most part a fall in ticket sales at the Sopers Road Car Park.
73/17 The Neighbourhood Plan and the Local Plan:
The Vice Chairman, Cllr. Stubbs, reported that there was no movement on the Neighbourhood Plan, which was stalled pending the outcome of the WelHat Local Plan. Stage 1 of the Local Plan was now starting, with Stage 2 to follow in late October 2017. The Parish Council will not be involved in Stage 1, which deals with complying with the regulations, and the requirement for adequate consultation. Our consultants, AECOM, are prepared to provide the assistance required. The Clerk reported that the third period of Air Quality Monitoring was now completed and the monitoring tubes sent to the laboratory, and so the report from the Air Quality Consultants was now awaited.
74/17 Urgent business accepted by the Clerk:
There was none.
75/17 Question Time:
There were no members of the public present.
76/17 Exclusion of the Press and Public:
This was not necessary.
77/17 Council Land in Maynard Place, Cuffley:
The Vice Chairman and the Clerk provided an update on the current position regarding the encroachment and damage to the Council’s Land in Maynard Place.
78/17 Other Urgent Business:
There was no other urgent business.
79/17 Close of Meeting:
As there was no further business, the Chairman thanked everyone for attending and closed the Meeting at approximately 9-45 p.m. The next full Council Meeting is scheduled for 23rd November 2017.
Clerk to the Council: Jason Grocock ABCC (Dip) BSc (Hons) CPFA CiLCA
The minutes can be downloaded in PDF format by following this link: Clerks Minutes of Full Council Meeting 14th September 2017