(added to the website on the 11/10/17)
MINUTES OF THE NORTHAW & CUFFLEY PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD AT 7.30pm ON TUESDAY 25th NOVEMBER 2014 AT NORTHAW VILLAGE HALL
Present Councillor Adrian Prest (Chairman), Councillor Christine Burrows (Vice Chairman), Councillor Brent Cheetham, Councillor Mike Clark, Councillor Eric Wilcox, Councillor Peter Dace, Councillor Bob Stubbs, Councillor Jane Brook,
The Clerk, Jason Grocock
4 Members of the public.
There were no apologies.
35/14 Declarations of interest.
There were none.
36/14 Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting on 22nd July 2014.
The minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 22nd July 2014 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
37/14 Update from local PC or PCSO
No representative attended and no report had been provided.
38/14 Question Time
There were no questions from the public.
39/14 Reports from Committees and Working Groups
Councillor Christine Burrows gave her report as Chair of the Planning Applications Committee. There had been 43 planning applications considered by the Committee and comments made to the Borough Council on a significant number of applications. A Public Meeting regarding the Local Plan had been attended, and the Chairman expressed the Council’s appreciation for the help provided by Councillor Bob Stubbs.
Personnel & Urgency Committee
The Committee had met at the end of September, to discuss the Council Office Opening Times and staff working times. This was a lengthy meeting of some 3 hours, and the new policies as discussed came into effect on 20th October. The office was now to open from
12-30 p.m. to 2-30 p.m. rather than from 10-00 a.m. to 12-30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday inclusive, and would still open from 9-00 a.m. to 10-00 a.m. on Saturdays, excluding holiday weekends. Staff are now able to have a working morning before opening to the public in order to deal with E-mail, processing payments, updating records, etc. Residents who are working locally are also able to call at the office in their lunch hour.
Neighbourhood Plan Working Group
Met on 30th October. After more than a year of waiting for approval for the designated area for the Neighbourhood Plan to be approved by the Borough Council, this had finally been agreed. The Chairman and Clerk had met a firm of Consultants in London, who it was agreed would be an ideal choice for supporting the Council in preparing the Neighbourhood Plan. They had already assisted some 47 other Councils in the preparation of Neighbourhood Plans, and also provided a most competitive price quotation for work. Several other firms of consultants had previously been considered, but none were as suitable as URS. P&R had since approved the appointment of this firm of consultants.
The Neighbourhood Plan Working Group and the P&R Committee have also agreed a Project Manager. The Chairman commented that the Parish Council is fortunate in having such a well-qualified and experienced person available to fill this role, Councillor Bob Stubbs. (See Agenda Item 7.)
Policy & Resources
The Policy & Resources Committee had met on 11th November for just over 3 hours and dealt with almost all the items on a very large agenda, but did have to defer one large item to the next meeting – the first time an item had to be deferred.
The Committee considered the Clerk’s Budget Monitoring Report; the report of the External Auditor; the strategy for the next year’s budget; legislative changes, with a suggested amendment to Standing Orders (report circulated to all Members – see Agenda Item7a); the disposal and writing off of surplus assets; the review of leases at KGV; the Neighbourhood Plan and the appointment of a Project Manager (see Resolution at Agenda Item 7b); terms for a licence to occupy Council Land at Sopers Road; Car Park Management issues; and Council Reserves.
Under Agenda Item 7a, the Chairman proposed the resolution set out:
“That Standing Orders are amended, as agreed by Policy & Resources Committee, to incorporate the requirements of the Openness of Government Bodies Regulations 2014, to be adopted as included as Appendix A”, and that “all formal Policies be also incorporated as further appendices to these Orders.”
This was seconded by Councillor Mike Clark and agreed unanimously.
Delegation to Councillor Bob Stubbs
Under Agenda Item 7b, the Chairman proposed the resolution as set out:
“That Councillor Bob Stubbs be delegated the authority to project manage (direct and supervise) as appropriate, the work of URS in assisting the development of a Neighbourhood Plan, and that the
Neighbourhood Plan Working Group be delegated the power to authorise expenditure as this work progresses in accordance with the agreed quotation.”
This was seconded by Vice Chairman Christine Burrows and agreed unanimously.
41/14 Report of the External Auditor
Under Agenda Item 8 the Clerk presented the report of the External Auditors, BDO, working on behalf of the Audit Commission. This item had been previously reported to the recent P&R Committee.
The External Auditors have approved the accounts and the various annual statements including the Governance Statement for the year ending 31st March 2014. The full Council had approved the account in May 2014, before they were sent to the External Auditors. The Clerk had posted an Official Notice of the Conclusion of the Audit on the office window and the Council Website, along with the Accounts and Statement, which avoided the need for electors of the Parish to make an appointment to view the accounts. The Clerk was also pleased to report that there were no matters raised by the Auditors which required to be reported to the Council. The signed certificate of the Auditors was included in the report to the Council. No Action Plan was required, and all legislative requirements had been met.
The Chairman proposed that the Report of the External Auditors be accepted, and that the Council notes that the Official Notice of Conclusion of Audit was published in accordance with the statutory requirements. This was seconded by Councillor Jane Brook, and agreed unanimously.
42/14 Outside Committee Reports
a. Cuffley Hall
Councillor Brent Cheetham gave a short report. Former Chairman of the Residents Associations, Ken Golding had resigned, and Roy Papworth had now joined the Executive Management Committee of the Cuffley Hall, and everything was now running smoothly. There was one problem relating to the stage floor having been polished too much! Cllr Cheetham announced the forthcoming AGM of the Cuffley & Northaw Youth Centre which was open to all Councillors to attend (details on the Council window and Notice Board), and also reported the ongoing communication problems with the Chairman of the Youth Centre.
b. The Kidston Institute.
The Chairman reported that there is now a new Treasurer and Secretary for the Institute and the administration was now a little better organised. A vacancy for a Parish Council representative on the Committee still existed, as although Cllr Mike Clark had volunteered, as he was already a Member of the Committee (representing the Residents Association) he couldn’t represent two bodies. Cllr Bob Stubbs volunteered to be the second representative of the Parish Council and this was agreed unanimously.
c. Northaw Village Hall
Councillors Eric Wilcox and Mike Clark are the current representatives. Cllr Wilcox reported that the existing Committee was re-elected on-block at the September AGM. Bookings are buoyant and finances good. A few further improvements are planned.
d. Welwyn Hatfield Association of Local Councils
The Clerk reported that he attended a joint meeting of WHALC with the Borough, Towns, and Parish Councils representatives on 13th October last, and also an earlier meeting between WHALC representatives and the new Head of Planning for the Borough, Colin Haigh. The majority of items at the 13th October were planning related and presented by Colin Haigh, including an encouragement for Local Councils to prepare Neighbourhood Plans, changes to permitted development, a new definition regarding Gypsy & Traveller sites, further news on the Borough Council’s move to a new IT system for Planning, and the latest position on the preparation of the Local Plan. There was also discussion regarding the Council Tax Leaflet where Parish Clerks are proposing improvements.
e. Welwyn Hatfield Community Safety Partnership Priority Setting Forum
Councillor Eric Wilcox, the new representative of the Parish Council, commented that there had been no recent meetings of the Forum.
43/14 Draft Budget and Precept 2015-16
Under Agenda Item 10, the Clerk presented a report which, for the most part, he had presented to the Policy & Resources Committee Meeting earlier in the month. The report included a copy of the latest budget monitoring report for the current year.
The P&R Committee had decided to recommend to full Council that the Precept increase for 2015-16 should be no more than 2.0%, which would mean that any significant items of growth would need to be met by either savings or contributions from reserves and balances.
The main items of growth recommended were for a contingency provision and revenue provision of £50,000= each for the estimated costs of preparing the Neighbourhood Plan.
Other items as listed in the report were for major resurfacing work on the KGV Bowling Club Car Park; for the rebuilding of the Northaw War Memorial; the Northaw Playing Fields renovations; and upgrading the CCTV system. The Clerk also referred to the cost of taking over the responsibility for maintenance of verges from the County Highways; and ongoing costs of replacement office IT equipment.
The Chairman proposed the suggested resolution as set out in the report, that the Clerk prepares a draft budget for 2015-16 which allows provision for the items recommended by the Policy & Resources Committee as described in the report, with an allocation from Reserves to enable the precept increase to be 2% or less. This was seconded by the Vice Chairman, Cllr Christine Burrows, and agreed unanimously.
44/14 Clerk’s Update Report
The Clerk presented a short report listing the progress on key items of outstanding work including the appointment of Planning Consultants; the Northaw Playing Fields renovation project; the introduction of an Air Conditioning system in the Council Offices; disposal of the large redundant Photocopier; sale of the Council Tractor; the purchase of the Defibrillators for both Halls in the Parish; the transfer of responsibility for maintenance of Highways Verges; plans for the January 2015 Community Party; the registration of all Council land; the purchase of the new bench for Station Road; and invitation of quotes for new swings and other repairs at the KGV Playgrounds.
Cllr Stubbs suggested that the Clerk’s Update Report could be circulated more regularly than at the by-monthly Council Meetings.
One option would be to put such information on the Council’s website as is appropriate, and keep updated. A monthly circulation was supported by most Members.
The Clerk also presented his usual Update report in pictures, many of which will feature in the Clerk’s Update Report in the Christmas Update Magazine. Regarding bollards, Cllr Clark suggested investigating spring-loaded bollards. Issues regarding parking outside the Cuffley Co-Op in Maynard Place holding up traffic, and blocking in parked cars in the designated parking area were discussed.
45/14 Urgent business.
The Chairman invited comment on the suggestion that there should be a regular item at Council Meetings for County Council or Borough Council Reports. Cllr Brent Cheetham suggested the possibility of a short précis rather than a report, hence not a report by a Borough or County Councillor, and members seemed happy with this.
As there were no further matters to discuss, the meeting closed at 8.50 p.m.
Clerk to the Council: Jason Grocock ABCC (Dip) BSc (Hons) CPFA
The full document can be downloaded from here: MINUTES OF COUNCIL MEETING 25th NOVEMBER 2014