Goudhurst, Kent. A Wealden hill village

Policy & Staff Committee November

GOUDHURST PARISH COUNCIL
Local Government for Goudhurst, Kilndown and Curtisden Green

Parish Council LogoPOLICY AND STAFF COMMITTEE

Minutes of a Meeting held on Tuesday 19 November 2019 at the Jessel Room at 7.30 pm

Present:  Cllrs Antony Harris (Chairman), David Boniface, Craig Broom, Phil Kirkby, David Knight, Barry Noakes, Guy Sutton and Peter Wood. 

Anthony Farnfield as Clerk.  Assistant Clerk Mrs Claire Reed.

Apologies were accepted from:    Cllrs Chris Ditton, Alan Foster, Mrs Caroline Richards and Mrs Jayne Russell.  

Declarations of Interests   

Cllr Guy Sutton declared an interest in discussions relating to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Code of Conduct for Members.  For Members information, The Clerk drew attention to the edition of the Code of Conduct (known as “The Kent Code”) which was adopted by GPC on 09 July 2012, Minute 139/12 as a Standing Order.  This included the Seven Principles of Public Life.  

Asset Register.  This was reviewed in detail.  The only query related to the risk on the Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment at Balcombes Hill car park.  It was noted that the equipment had been largely donated by Tesla.  It was felt that it would be difficult to put a value on the charging units if they were damaged or stolen.  The Clerk will seek advice from our insurers.

Insurance Cover.  This was also reviewed in detail and compared with the Asset Register but Members were satisfied with the cover we have noting that the premium is good value on a long term agreement.

Risk Assessment.  This was reviewed and Members did not seek any changes.

Banking.  The Clerk briefed Members on the changes since last year.  Council now has an account with Unity Trust Bank (UTB) and we are now making all payments electronically.  About UTB:

Unity Trust Bank plc (‘the Bank’) is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The Bank is entered in the Financial Services Register number 204570. Registered office: Four Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2JB. Registered in England and Wales no. 1713124.

The Clerk inputs the details of payments into the UTB system and any two of our four approved ‘signatories’ approve each payment electronically via the UTB website. The Clerk reported that he has found the system easier to use with practice; initially some submitted payments were not paid due to failure to follow the UTB procedures exactly.  Council has closed the NatWest Business Reserve account but maintains the NatWest current account – we need to ensure our funds are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).  The CCLA Public Sector Deposit Fund account continues unchanged.

With regard to the UTB, it was agreed to recommend to Council that the number of ‘signatories’ be increased from 4 to 7.  This will assist the Clerk in that more Members will be available to authorise payments without delay and it will have the benefit of engaging more Members into the working of Council’s accounts.  Cllrs Antony Harris, Craig Broom and David Knight volunteered and the Clerk will take the necessary action with UTB.

Audit.  It was agreed to recommend to Council that Mr David Buckett be invited to carry out the internal audit of Council’s 2019/2020 accounts.

Standing Orders.  These were reviewed with the Clerk drawing Members’ attention to some parts that are particularly relevant to Council’s work.

Financial Regulations.  The Clerk introduced the Financial Regulations that were updated in July 2019, again highlighting parts that apply particularly to Councils work. It was agreed that the amounts detailed in 11.1.h be changed from £3000 to £4000 and from £100 to £500. 

Council’s Policies.  These were reviewed without any changes being suggested.    

Annual Memberships and Grants and Direct Debit arrangements.  These were reviewed and it was agreed to recommend to Council that in 2020 the grants to Kilndown Village Hall, the Kilndown Millennium Green Trust, Kilndown Quarry Centre and the Samaritans be increased by £50 per annum. It was further agreed that the grant to the Citizens Advice Bureau be increased by £100 per annum.

Committees Responsibilities and Membership.  This Standing Order was reviewed.  That the Youth Committee is responsible for the Children’s Play Area in Back Lane is to be added and responsibility for the establishment of a Shelter on the Top Glebe (Village Green) is passed from the Youth Committee to the Amenities Committee. The Clerk will take the opportunity to make some minor changes to the text and republish the Standing Order as being the December 2019 edition.

Budget and Precept 2020/21 and 2021/22.  Draft Budget figures were discussed at length, it was agreed to take the proposed budget for 2020/21, which reflects a 7.15% increase. In terms of Council Tax bills, this would increase the Goudhurst Band D Equivalent of £134.69 in 2019-20 to £143.02 in 2020/21, an increase of 6.2%.  That is £8.33 a year or 16p a week.

Clerk’s Contracted Salary.  For 2019/20 the Clerk is established on Step 31 of the National Scales = £33,800 annum.  The Clerk has suggested for 2020/21 this should be Step 32 (experience and performance) plus a 2.9% RPI cost of living. This be effective from April 202 to March 2021.  To note that the 2020/21 scales will not be published until sometime towards the end of the current financial year.  There are no proposed changes to the Clerk’s Terms and Conditions and Job Description.

Assistant Clerk’s Contracted Salary.  Assistant Clerk joined Council on 23 July 2019 on an 18 hour working week at an FTE of £28,000 annum.  This was increased to £28,500 from 23 October 2019 on the completion of her probation period.  In discussion with the Clerk, the suggestion is that her salary rises by 1 step on the National Scales from April 2020 with a 2.9% RPI cost of living for the period April 2020 to March 2021.

The meeting closed at 9.25 pm

Anthony Farnfield MBE


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