Goudhurst, Kent. A Wealden hill village

Policy & Staff Committee November

Local Government for Goudhurst, Kilndown and Curtisden Green


Minutes of a Meeting held on Tuesday 20 November 2018 at the Jessel Room at 7.30 pm

Present:  Cllrs Antony Harris (Chairman), David Boniface, Mrs Angela Broom, Alan Foster, Phil Kirkby, Mrs Susan Newsam, Barry Noakes, Guy Sutton and Stephen Wickham.  .

Anthony Farnfield as Clerk

Apologies were accepted from:    Cllrs Chris Ditton and Mrs Caroline Richards  

Declarations of Interests   

There were no Declarations of Interest by Members.

Budget and Precept for 2019/2020.  The Chairmen of Council’s Committees had submitted pre-meeting figures relating to their various planned projects.  These had been adjusted by the Chairman and the Clerk as Responsible Financial Officer for consideration at this meeting. 

Each Committee’s figures were considered and adjustments agreed.   

An increased figure for the proposed new Parish Council office was added; this will be needed when the planned Assistant Clerk is recruited.  

Members were split on the question as to whether the Balcombes Hill Public Toilets cost could be justified but it was agreed to leave it in the plan for the time being.  

A provision of  £5,000 was included to assist the Goudhurst Parish Hall Trust with their legal costs to achieve ‘incorporated’ status. 

The cost of the projects for the downgrading of A262 and the restriction on HGVs is included in Highways miscellaneous projects account 4444.  

The electric vehicle recharging point scheme budget was reduced from £12k to £5k as Council will push further to obtain Government grant funding.  

In estimating that Council’s reserves of £30 – 40,000 at March 2020 would be too low and therefore a risk, it was provisionally agreed on a split vote to recommend to Council that the Precept for 2019/2020 be set at £168,630.  This represents an increase of 10.5% or £0.20p. a week for a Band D property.  However, several Members expressed the view that Council’s reserves are forecast to be too low and that the 2019/20 precept should be set in the region of £180,000 to 185,000.  This matter will be considered further at Council on 10 December 2018 for a final decision. 

Asset Register.  This was reviewed in detail.  It was noted that the Upper and Lower Glebe fields at no value have been added as the lease with the Diocese has now been signed and registered at the Land Registry.  Also the Back Lane Children’s Play area at a low insurance value due to the poor condition of the equipment that Council has taken over.  Also now included are the new gates at the Upper Glebe (Village Green) and the field gate at the south end of the Lower Glebe as well as the new defibrillator part funded by Council at the G&K CE Primary School.

Insurance Cover. This was reviewed in detail.  It was noted that Council has a 5 year long term agreement effective from June 2016 and this reduces the premium.  It was noted that the Back Lane Children’s Play Area was professionally inspected in April 2018 by Craigdene. It was also agreed that Council should ensure that all public and other liability insurance be confirmed in view of our new responsibilities for the play area.

Risk Assessments.  These were reviewed in detail and it was agreed that no changes are required.

Council’s Bank Accounts and payment signatories. The Clerk’s report was noted.   

He continues to ensure that Council is protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) with Councils funds lodged with both NatWest and the CCLA Public Sector Deposit Fund. 

Bank charges. NatWest provides a satisfactory day to day banking service but have given notice that they will apply charges should Council’s turnover be more than £100k in any one year.

Electronic banking. NatWest does not offer an account allowing external payments with two electronic signatures.   Several of our suppliers are asking for payment electronically rather than by cheque. 

Unity Trust Bank offers a two signature electronic account tailored for the public sector.   It was agreed that the Clerk should obtain the necessary paperwork to open a Goudhurst Parish Council account with Unity Trust Bank and Cllrs Guy Sutton and Stephen Wickham will check the detail of this project to ensure Council’s interests, particularly the security of funds, is protected.

Bank Signatories.  It was recommended that Cllrs Noakes, Boniface, Kirkby and Wickham should continue to be Council’s bank signatories.  The Clerk is also a signatory for administration purposes as laid down in Council’s Financial Regulations paragraph 6.7.

Appointment of an Internal Auditor.  It was agreed to recommend to Council that Mr David Buckett CPFA DMS be appointed as Council’s auditor for the 2019/20 accounts.

Standing Orders with Financial Regulations.  These were reviewed in detail. 

Standing Orders.  No amendments needed.

Financial Regulations.  No amendments needed.

Council’s Policies.  Documents relating to Policies on Awarding Grants, Burial Board procedures, Chequer Field use, Complaints procedure, Data Protection and GDPR, Freedom of Information, Grievance Procedures, Health & Safety, Internal Audit check sheet, Lone and Home Workers, Neighbourhood Development Plan terms of reference, Planning Committee delegated authority and Press & Media were reviewed without change.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  The Clerk presented a written report on Council’s implementation of GDPR.  Council had agreed to appoint GDPR-info Ltd (Minute 063/18 of 14 May 2018.  They had carried out an Audit of Council’s data and procedures.  They found that of 19 areas covered by the Audit, Council is already complying with 14 of them. 

Annual Grant Payments, Memberships and Subscriptions and Direct Debit arrangements.  These were reviewed.  It was noted that all payments are reported to Council when made and it was recommended to Council that this document be approved by Council.

Committees and Responsibilities.  It was recommended to Council that: 

The Glebe Field Committee that had been formed to negotiate the lease agreement be dissolved as the agreement has been successfully negotiated and signed. 

Review of the Clerk’s Salary, Terms and Conditions and Job Description,  It was recommended to Council that Clerks pay scale will remain unchanged at SCP37 on the NALC scales from 01 April 2019 and since no information has been received from NALC on a cost of living increase, a provision of a 2% uplift has been included in the 2019/20 budget.  

Clerk’s Pension Scheme.  It was agreed to recommend to Council that the Clerk should work on establishing a ‘retirement fund’ before the end of the 2018/19 financial year and report for Council’s approval so that the provision of £5,000 in the 2018/19 budget can be paid into that fund.  

Future Staffing and Office Accommodation.  Following discussions earlier in the meeting on 2019/20 Budget matters, the proposal that a part-time Assistant Clerk should be recruited to assist with the Clerk’s increasing workload was discussed.  It was noted that this will lead to the need to take a lease on larger office space since the current Parish Council office is not adequate for more than one employee.  Proposals will follow for Council’s agreement. 

   The meeting closed at  9.25 pm

Anthony Farnfield MBE

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