MINUTES of the Meeting of the Finance + General Purposes Committee held at 8.00pm on Thursday 8 December 2016 in the Village Centre, Trinity Road, Hurstpierpoint.
Committee Members Present
|Stephen Hand (Chairman) John Lowman Allan Brown||Amanda Geel Judith Marsh Julia Shorrocks|
1 member of the public
Stephen Hoyles – CLERK to the COUNCIL
F16/049. Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest: The following apologies for absence were received prior to the meeting and accepted: Martin Machan, Rodney Jackson. The following declarations of interest were recorded: John Lowman personal interest in item F16/055.2. Village Centre Booking System.
F16/050. Minutes of the meetings of Finance + General Purposes Committee of 10 November 2016: The Minutes were received and adopted and signed by the Chairman.
F16/051. Matters arising from Minutes of the Finance + General Purposes Committee of 10 November
2016: There were no matters not otherwise covered on this agenda.
F16/052. Adjournment for questions from the public: The Committee considered whether to adjourn the Meeting in accordance with clause 3(e) of Standing Orders, in order to receive questions from members of the public in attendance. RESOLVED: The Committee meeting is adjourned.
A member of the public raised concern about the siting of a new streetlight in Lynton Close, Hurstpierpoint. It was said that the existing light was significantly shrouded by a tree in the verge and that the Council had previously agreed tha any new item should be moved away. In response the Committee was advised that the precise siting on new streetlights was left to the contractor, who was well experienced in such matters, as it depended on many factors including cabling and proximity to other services. The matter has been checked and, although a meeting of Council may have discussed the issue, there was no record of a specific decision. The Chairman agreed that the contractor would be consulted on the matter, to see if a further adjustment could be made. The meeting then resumed.
F16/053. FINANCIAL MATTERS:
F16/053.1 Payments and receipts: The Committee was asked to RESOLVE to approve payment of accounts totalling £20,478.64 for month 9 (December 2016) and the total receipts of £28,036.82 for Month 8 (November 2016).
(Ref: Schedule 1 and 2)
RESOLVED: The Committee RESOLVES to approve the schedule of payments of £20,478.64 for December 2016 .
F16/053.2 Financial monitoring: The Committee noted the Accounts Records for Month 8 (November 2016), in accordance with the Financial Regulations of the Council, as follows: (1) Bank reconciliation and Trial Balance (PRESENTED at the MEETING)
F16/053.3. Deposits and Investment: The Committee noted that the Council was holding the following funds on the dates shown:
F16/053.4 Internal Audit (year ended 31 March 2017): An interim Internal Audit took place 21 November 2016. No matters of concern were identified and the Committee was asked to approve the Report. It was noted that reference to the Audit Subcommittee should be removed and replaced by the Finance and General Purposes Committee, for future reports. (Ref: Internal Audit (year ended 31 March 2017 – interim report 21 November 2016 Mark Mulberry )
RESOLVED: The Committee approves the interim Internal Audit Report 21 November 2016.
F16/053.5 Budget 2017/18: The following matters had arisen since the draft Budget 2017/18 had been previously considered by the Committee:
- • the bids made by the Community Affairs Committee.
- • Planning committee bid for £20,000 for consultancy fees.
- • confirmation has been received from Burgess Hill town Council regarding the reductions by WSCC in funding for the local highway maintenance team. BHTC are asking for a contribution of £1,844 in 2017/18 to meet the shortfall.
- • The Tax Base figure had just been received and incorporated into the draft Budget.
- • An assumption had been made of a 2% increase in the Band D rate, which equates to a 5.1% increase in Precept.
In discussion the following matters were raised:
- • A proposal that provision be made for additional staff costs, to ensure that there was sufficient resource in the Year.
- • The exceptional cost of the possible planning consultant fees for 2017/18 , would be in response to potential issues around the District Plan and N’hood Plan, and should be considered as one-off expenditure for the Year.
- • The Chairman of Community Affairs Committee would be invited to the next meeting of this Committee, to discuss the bid.
It was agreed that these adjustments would be included, for consideration by the Committee at its meeting 12 January
2017 and to make a RECOMMENDATION to Council regarding the final budget. (Ref: BHTC email 15 November 2016; DRAFT Budget 2017/18 V3 7 December 2016 )
F16/054. CONTRACTS: The Committee was asked to note the following contracts with a cost over £500 + VAT :
F16/054.1 Streetlighting Replacement Scheme: The streetlights replacements began on site on 21 November
2016 in the Willow Way and Highfield Drive areas. As reported at the previous meeting of the Committee, the Council had been presented with an agreement for signing, between the contractor SSE, the Council and the cabling authority UK Power Networks, to allow SSE to make connections to UKPN cable systems. If there was no agreement then the streetlighting contract cannot proceed as intended. There was concern about the liability issues that this agreement might attract and the Council’s lawyers were asked to comment. Telephone conversations and email exchanges also took place with SSE and UKPN. Unsurprisingly, for two large national organisations, they are unwilling to alter their standard forms of contract for what they consider to be a very minor contract. The key clause is 7.1 of the Agreement, as confirmed by the Council’s lawyers, which imposes a liability of up to £1.0 Million on the Council against unauthorised cable connections on to metered supplies. UKPN would require our contractor to remedy any such connection and also pay for the use of power which should have been metered. The SSE contract is only for unmetered streetlight connections, and no metered connections are authorised. The contract also limits SSE’s liability to the value of the contract (about £160,000) so clearly there is a liability gap and a potential risk to the Council. SSE gave the following response (their email 17 November 2016):
To clarify, SSE have carried out an inspection of the street lighting that we are contracted to replace for you and none of them have a metered supply, I am not sure why UKPN have included it within their documentation as it bears no relevance to the Un Metered supplies that you have. SSE have replaced approx. 570000 street lights within West Sussex over the last 6 years and not a single one of these has a metered supply either.
The quantum of risk attracted to the Council is clearly very small. The contract does not ask for any metered connections and SSE would be acting outside our contract if they made any. The potential consequence would be to remedy the connection and to pay for any used power. The Council would hold SSE liable as they were acting outside the scope of the contract, but ultimately the Council would still be liable to UKPN. The Agreement was reviewed by the Chairman of Council and the clerk. Under the circumstances it was suggested that the risk to the Council was de minimus, that we have some protection in our contract with SSE, and the Clerk recommended and the Chairman agreed that we should proceed to sign the UKPN Agreement. (Ref: HP&SCPC email 17 November 2016; Mayo Wynne Baxter email 9
November 2016; UKPN Agreement November 2016)
RESOLVED: The Committee notes the action of the Chairman and Clerk.
F16/054.2 Christmas lights: The Christmas lights and Tree were satisfactorily installed on 24 November 2016. It was noted that the tree had been favourably received but the Committee suggested that more lighting around the Village Garden might be appropriate for 2017.
F16/054.3 High Street Improvements Scheme: The Committee was asked to note that no further meeting of the
High Street Review Joint Working Party has taken place, and responses are still awaited from WSCC. The Parish Office has arranged for a temporary asphalt infill of a dislodged kerb (by contractor Landbuild) and has also requested a price for a permanent fix of the moving kerbs along the north side opposite the West Furlong Lane junction. It was understood that, once these kerbs have been fixed then the s278 Agreement with WSCC can be sealed. The Office has also asked the High Street Consultant (Stilwells) and contractor (Walker Construction) for comment on the kerb issue. The Office has offered suggested advisory signs for traffic at each end of the High Street, but WSCC have advised that these are nonstandard and would require Dept of Transport approval. WSCC is working on possible alternatives. WSCC have responded to the matter of ‘cross-hatching’ the Loading Bay area and have advised that this cannot be possible if the current split use (part loading/part parking) remains. The hatching can only be applied if it was loading only. It was
agreed that this matter is referred to the High Street Traders for their view, before a decision is made. (Ref: Landbuild quotation 29 Nov 2016)
RESOLVED: The repair of the kerbs is awarded to Landbuild Ltd at a cost of £3,656 + VAT. .
F16/055.1 Action List 2016/17: The Committee noted the Action List for the Council Year 2015/16. (Ref: ACTION LIST 2016/17 rev16 31 October 2016 )
F16/055.2. Village Centre Booking System: Further to Council decision (Minute C16/072 Meeting 24 November
2016) the Committee was asked to approve the Service Level Agreement with the Village Centre Association, for the Council to operate the booking system with effect from 1 February 2017. (Ref: Village Centre Booking System – Service Level Agreement – 30 Nov 2016).
RESOLVED: The Service Level Agreement with the Village Centre Association, for the Council to operate the booking system with effect from 1 February 2017, is approved.
F16/056. OPERATIONS: (exception reports only) F16/056.1 Street lighting: Nothing to report.
F16/056.2 Toilets: Further to the report to the Committee meeting of 13 October 2016 (Minute F16/040.2) the Pitt Road toilet had been further inspected by the building surveyor, including the digging of a trial hole, and his second report received. The evidence suggests that the subsidence has been caused by tree root moisture movement and the following options have been offered:
- (1) Continue to monitor movement over a further year.
- (2) Proceed with underpinning the foundations.
- (3) Carry out cosmetic works only, with the hope that further movement will not occur and the building will stabilise. It is recognised that periods of prolonged wet or dry weather could further exacerbate the matter. The building is not dangerous but the door to the ladies toilet is prone to jamming in the frame.
Under the circumstances it is suggested that the Council proceeds with option (2) and obtains quotations for underpinning.
The Council’s insurance company has been notified of the matter but has advised that the insurance does not cover for subsidence. (Ref: Sussex Building Surveyors Ltd Reports 1 and 21 November 2016)
RESOLVED: The Pitt Lane toilet foundations are underpinned, and a suitable quotation is obtained.
(1) The dead Horse Chestnut tree by the Bowls Club (South Avenue Recreation Ground) was removed on 28/29 November 2016. (2) Permission has been received to remove the 8 Swamp Cyprus trees from the Cemetery. Tenders will be sought with the intention of removing the trees in spring 2017. (3) The tree outside St Lawrence School, in Trinity Road/Cuckfiled Road, is the responsibility of WSCC. It was understood that a survey had condemned the tree, but no action had been taken. It was agreed to ask WSCC about progress.
F16/056.4 Cemetery: Nothing to report.
F16/056.5 Recreation Grounds:
(1) Village Garden: A licence had been granted to a representative of the High Street Traders, to place a marquee on the Garden for the afternoon of Sunday 4 December 2016, as part of the High Street Christmas event. It was reported tha the event went very well. The marquee matting was still in place and there was concern about damage to the grass. The Trader’s representative had been asked to resolve the matter.
F16/056.6 Dog waste bins. Nothing to report.
- (1) Lease – Chantry Stables: Further to Council decision to permit the subletting of the building to Co-operative Group (Minute C16/057 – meeting 27 October 2016) the Co-operative Group had confirmed their wish to proceed. It was hoped that the occupation would take place in mid-December 2016 and last until about April 2017. The Council’s solicitors had advised that a licence should be prepared to permit the sublease, excluding the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, at cost of approximately £750 + VAT. However, the sublet is for a short period and with a known tenant, and it is suggested that a letter of authority from the Council would be sufficient. (Clause 4.10 of the lease refers.)
(Ref: Mayo Wynne Baxter email 14 October 2016; Lease HP&SCPC/Charity Trustees – 20 July 2016)
RESOLVED: The Council grants permission to the Chantry Stables tenant to sublet to the Cooperative Group Ltd, for a period of up to 6 months from 1 December 2016.
- (2) Tennis Club, Hurstpierpoint: It was understood that some wind damage of the pavilion took place in mid-
November 2016. The building is owned by the Council but leased to the Club. The Club have asked to provide details and a meeting has been arranged with the Club chairman. .
F16/056.8 Allotments: Nothing to report.
F16/056.9 Signs: Arrangements were in hand for small signs to be fixed to all Council-owned buildings and grounds, advising of locations and contact details. The cost is approximately £350 + VAT.
F16/056.10 Public enquiries: The Committee was advised that the Parish Office maintains a Customer log of all public enquiries and which is available for inspection by Members.
There being no other business the Chairman closed the meeting at 9.25 pm Chairman