MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL POLICY & RESOURCES
HELD AT 4-00 p.m. ON TUESDAY 14th NOVEMBER 2017 AT
THE COUNCIL OFFICES, MAYNARD PLACE CUFFLEY
Present Councillor Sally Pollitt (Chairman); Councillors Bob Stubbs (Vice Chairman);
Councillors Christine Burrows; Jane Brook; & Mike Clark.
Councillor Andrea Allgood in attendance.
Jason Grocock (Clerk & Proper Officer).
As there were no Members of the public present the Chairman did not make the usual announcement regarding recording or filming the Meeting.
PR/57/17 Apologies: There were none.
PR/58/17 Declarations of interest: The Chairman, as a Trustee of Cuffley Hall, declared an interest in any items related to the Hall.
PR/59/17 Minutes of the last meeting:
The Clerk’s Minutes of the meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee held on 5th September 2017 had been circulated in advance of the meeting, and were agreed as a correct record of that meeting. There were no matters arising from the Minutes.
PR/60/17 Report of the Playground Working Group:
Cllr. Brook reported on the first meeting of the Group. It was noted that several items in the KGV Playground were not up to modern standards, and if any were found to have a higher risk of injury then they should be removed as a priority. The provision of a Zip Wire was also accepted as a priority item, and the Clerk advised that this would need to be outside the area of the current playground. It was accepted that it may be possible to install some new equipment within the current financial year. The range of possible budget costs were also considered, and this would also be discussed under Agenda Item 9 as a Budget Growth issue. It would be necessary to check the Planning position regarding extending the Play Area on the field.
PR/61/17 Health & Safety Group Report:
Chairman of the Group, Councillor Allgood, reported that the Group had drawn up a Health & Safety Policy, a statutory document, and this would be submitted to the full Council for agreement. A paper including the proposed policy was tabled, but this would need to be assessed for adequacy by a competent person. To ensure public safety the Group were recommending that all Parish Assets should have regular condition surveys, with maintenance needs identified. One of the issues for this meeting was the consideration of costs. The Group felt that the risks assessments should be reviewed externally, and this would be an additional cost, though in some cases such as the risk assessment for the Footpath Warden, the Clerk and the Senior Warden had adequate knowledge and skills. The work is very admin heavy however. The overall responsibility was in effect the Council, acting through the Clerk, and the Clerk was responsible for ensuring that Risk Assessments are carried out, in some cases by himself where qualified, and where not by employing a competent person.
There would be some training needs, which would carry a cost, but this currently cannot be determined. External help, such as a CDA Consultant, had already been used for some risk assessments such as the KGV Workshop and the Groundsman. Work identified through risk assessments could be monitored by the Council by using the Clerk’s Outstanding Job Report. It was agreed that Health & Safety should be a standard item on the Agenda each time. Cllr. Brook suggested that there should be compulsory First Aid Training in some instances, such as the Groundsman and Home Wood Volunteers.
The Committee agreed that Cllr Allgood should redraft the report, with the assistance of the Vice Chairman, to take account of the matters discussed before submission to Council.
PR/62/17 Works and Projects:
The Clerk presented a report on the current position of all projects currently in the programme which had not been completed, and displayed the report via the OHP.
A number of new projects were added at the last Meeting of the Committee.
Decisions and recommendations of the Committee:
Phase 2 of CCTV System Update – The Committee agreed to put this project on hold until any problems became evident. The Clerk advised that it would be beneficial to deal with one failing camera.
Christmas Lighting Event – The celebrity for switching on the Lights had been agreed – the journalist Derek Parr, who grew up in Cuffley.
The Northaw Memorial Replacement of Damaged and Unmatching Stones, including flagstones and steps – The Clerk had previously circulated the estimated cost of carrying out the work. The Committee agreed unanimously to recommend to the full Council that the project be agreed, and the Clerk would seek to obtain three quotes for the work.
The Northaw Best Kept Village Sign – The Committee decided by a majority not to spend a sum of in excess of £1K on the renewal or replacement of the sign, which was now felt to be beyond repair and of little current relevance to the Village.
1950’s style road sign for Northaw Green – The Clerk had previously circulated a specification and estimated cost following the last meeting of the Committee. The Clerk would contact County Highways to establish that the erection of the sign would be permitted. If approval was obtained, the decision to proceed or not would be made by full Council.
Outsourcing of Payroll – The Clerk had sought published prices from several companies and circulated costs, with a recommendation for one leading company, who provided the most complete service, including the payments to staff. The Committee agreed that the monthly cost was very reasonable, and the Clerk should proceeded with the project.
Replacement Wings in the original style for the William Leefe Robinson Memorial – At the last meeting of the Committee, concern was expressed that replacement wings would be stolen, as the original wings had been. It had now been established that the original Wings had not been stolen, but had merely fallen off, not been refixed, and had subsequently disappeared. The Committee agreed that the project should now go ahead after the usual 3 quotations had been invited.
Signs to prevent parking on Northaw Green – The Committee agreed to the erecting of appropriate signs such as “No Parking on the Green”. If this was not effective in preventing cars parking on the Green, then other more physical measures would be considered in due course.
White Lines and new signs for the Cuffley Car Parks – Following the decision of the last meeting of the Committee, the Clerk had written to the leader of the Borough Council with copies to Ward Councillors, seeking action to progress the works for signs and white lines. The Leader had responded to advise that this Council would receive first preference by the Contractor when work started, and the work was expected to be completed by the end of the year.
PR/63/17 Data Protection Changes:
The Chairman reported that HAPTC were offering Local Councils a way of meeting the requirement of the General Data Protection Legislation, which comes into force in May 2019, by offering a Company who will deal with the requirements of the new Data Protection Legislation for Councils by grouping them into like sizes, measured partly by their turnover levels. Smaller Councils would be covered in larger groups and Larger Councils in smaller groups progressively, down to single Councils where the annual income was over £200K, with an initial cost of just over £11K, and an annual cost of c£5K, though there could be scope for Councils at the lower end of a band to be moved into the next lower band. This system would be less costly for Councils than them each trying to provide their own Data Protection Officer, who would have to be an expert, and there are very few available. The Chairman confirmed that organisations had to have a Data Protection Office in place by May, who would provide an annual report for the Regulator.
The Chairman had attended training provided by an employee of the Company which HAPTC were working with, and the Clerk and Deputy Clerk would be attending the same presentations on the next morning.
The Committee agreed that the Committee should ask the Council to make budgetary provision for the expected additional costs of the new Data Protection Legislation.
PR/64/17 Budget Growth and Savings 2018-19:
The Clerk presented details on the OHP of proposed Savings and Growth items for the financial year 2018-19. Figures had been revised and supplemented since the similar presentation to the last meeting of the Committee in September. Proposed Savings or reductions in annual budgets totalled £117K, with the largest items being a reduction of £25K in the Revenue Contingency, and £40K in the budget related to the Neighbourhood Plan and the Local Plan.
Possible Growth items totalled £62K, with the largest item being a proposed budget of £50K for the refurbishment of the KGV Playground discussed under Agenda Item 5, the report of the Playground Working Group. There were 3 new expenditure headings where budget figures had not been estimated; the costs of the Parish review; the costs associated with the far greater emphasis now being placed by the Council on Health & Safety; and the ongoing costs of new legislation such as the Data Protection Legislation. The Committee agreed to group these three with a shared growth estimate of £25K. The revised total of proposed Growth Items therefore became £87K. There was also a need to provide for the currently increasing level of annual inflation, and a number of other committed higher costs which required increased budgetary provision in the next financial year, and this all totalled some £26K.
There was also a commitment to refund to the Parish’s Council Tax Payers the current year budget growth for the estimated costs of the Neighbourhood Plan which totalled some £55K. The actual costs to date had been far lower than estimated, partly reflecting the completion of the Plan being put on hold due to the substantial delay in the Borough Council’s Local Plan being completed.
The Clerk reported that the significant underspending in the current year, and the relatively high level of balances in hand, meant that the Council could reduce the Precept by a greater amount than the £55K reported above, and a refund of say £100K would be quite possible, though this could not be maintained in the following financial year, and the Precept would then need to be increased. The Committee therefore recommended to Council that the reduction in precept should be the £55K.
PR/65/17 Budget Strategy & Longer Term Planning:
The Clerk introduced this under Agenda Item 10. The Committee accepted that more time was required to discuss a 3 to 5 year Plan and Budget, and that it would be appropriate to deal with this as a Workshop for all Councillors. It was agreed that an appropriate date would be found to run a Workshop to consider a 3 to 5 year Plan.
PR/66/17 Council Review and Consultant:
As agreed by the last meeting of the Committee, the Clerk had reviewed the previous detailed list of questions and related work, and using a traffic light system, had prioritised the list. The Clerk had then met with the Chairman to review the document and agree the format which was now presented to Members. The Chairman reported that they had agreed that some of the financial tasked could be handled internally, but the things where external help was required were the Health & Safety and the HR Processes. So it was just those two areas where we would as the external Consultant for a Specification and a Price, and this would be put to the full Council for a decision.
PR/67/17 Completion of External Audit:
The Clerk presented this item. The Annual Return, including Financial Statements, Governance Report, and Internal Audit Report, etc. were approved by the Council in June before submission to BDO for the External Audit. The External Audit had been completed, and the documents approved and return at the end of September. The Clerk had then circulated them to Members, including the External Audit Report. The Annual Return, including the External Audit Report had also been made available to the public as required; published in full on the Website, Parish Notice Boards; and the Council Office Window.
The Reportable Issue related to notifying to the External Auditor of the official date for the viewing of the Statements and Accounts in the previous year, which was in the event a few days before they had been agreed by the Council, and this in turn was because the actual date for the meeting to approve the Annual Return had to be put back from the planned date due ensure a quorum for the Council Meeting. As this had already been reported in the previous year’s Auditor’s Report, but was reported again in the 2016-17 External Audit Report because it took place during that actual financial year. It was understood that the same issue had been notified by BDO to 35% of Parish Councils.
The Clerk also displayed the Audit Plan to deal with this which was submitted to BDO in the previous year, which the Clerk stated would need to be approved by full Council and submitted again to BDO. The contents of this item will also need to be reported and minuted by the next Full Council Meeting. The Report was agreed.
PR/68/17 Appointment of new External Auditor:
The Chairman reported details of the change of External Auditor from BDO for the current Financial Year. It was noted that the full Council in future would need to agree the work which the Internal Auditor would carry out.
PR/69/17 October 2017 Budget Monitor Report:
The Clerk presented the latest Budget Monitor Report for the year to date.
There was little change from the report to the last meeting of this Committee and the full Council. The Clerk had added a column to show the variance of the projected outturn from budget as well as the outturn figure.
The report still showed a shortfall in Car Park Income with a total shortfall of Income estimated of over £16K. Nearly all Expenditure Heads were still significantly underspent for the year to date, with a total underspend on overheads of some £180K expected.
PR/70/17 Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan:
The Vice Chairman had circulated a note to say that he understood that the Local Plan Inspector had been instructed by the Secretary of State in a general note that all sites in the Green Belt had to pass a special circumstances test, which is new, and probably means that the Borough Council will have to carry out analysis on all sites in the Green Belt on a case by case basis, and this will delay the process, and may mean that the two sites which this Council are objecting to will fail the test. If true, this will therefore have quite serious implications for the Borough Council. We will not be able to progress the Neighbourhood Plan until the Local Plan is completed.
PR/71/17 Aged Debtor Report:
The Clerk presented the very latest Aged Debt Report, prepared on the day, on the OHP. There had been a further improvement since the last report with only one really outstanding debt now.
PR/72/17 Village Day 2018:
The Chairman reported that the date of Sunday 8th July had now been agreed for the next Village Day.
PR/73/17 Commemoration of 125 Years of the Parish Council:
Cllr. Allgood reported that she had met with the Chairman and they now had a plan for this event, and most items would be self-funding, with low cost items adding up to about £500=. There were two items which had a more significant cost each, one being standardising the Parish Council Logo, and Cllr. Clark commented that this would be some £400=; the other being the preparation of laminated maps of the Parish Footpaths with an outline cost of £2,000=. These would be distributed with Update. The total provision therefore requested for the 2018-19 Budget was therefore £3,000=.
PR/74/17 Questions from the Press & Public:
There were no Members of the public present.
PR/75/17 Exclusion of the Press & Public:
This was not required.
PR/76/17 Maynard Place Land Litigation:
The Vice Chairman confirmed that the other side had submitted their defence. The full Council would need to give approval for the potential costs in closed session.
PR/77/17 Items accepted as urgent by the Clerk:
Cllr. Clark made a proposal regarding the recording & tracking of Council Planning Decisions. Cllr. Stubbs felt that this would be a huge amount of work. Cllrs Clark & Brook would need to discuss with the Deputy Clerk first.
PR/78/17 Close of Meeting:
As there was no other business, the Committee Meeting Closed at 6-50 p.m.
The full formatted minutes can be downloaded here: 14-11-17 Policy and Resources Committee Minutes