MINUTES OF THE POLICY & RESOURCES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON TUESDAY 11th JULY 2023
PRESENT: Cllr. Pethurst (in the Chair), Cllrs. Bunyan, Fairweather, Fletcher, Gilbert and Hatcher.
Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:
Members are required to declare any interests, dispensations or predetermination on items on this agenda in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct. Members are reminded that changes to the Register of Interests should be notified to the Clerk.
15/23: Internal finance check:
Cllr. Pethurst confirmed that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order, all paperwork had been signed and initialled.
16/23: Authorisation of payments made after the June meeting:
A list of payments totalling £17,937.84 made after the June meeting, is filed with these minutes.
17/23: Transfers of monies between accounts:
It was agreed that £125,000 be transferred from the Lloyds Current Account to the Unity Trust Account to allow for the continuation of online payments.
18/23: Invoices for Payment:
A list of payments to be made in July had been circulated, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. In response to a query from Cllr. Bunyan, Cllr. Gilbert advised the payment to Staplehurst Roofing was for emergency repairs to the roof of Vestry Hall.
Cllr. Pethurst proposed the payments be approved as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
Policy and Resources £9,554.15
Properties & Burial Grounds £2,907.03
Environmental Management £3,474.50
Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments.
19/23: Report on Earmarked Funds as of 31/03/2023:
A report of the earmarked funds held on 31/03/2023 had been submitted to the External Auditor as part of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return. A copy will be circulated to all Members with these minutes and published on the website, under financial reports. Cllr. Pethurst felt there should be some correlation between the saving and a spending schedule. The Clerk advised this should be part of the budget setting process.
20/23: Cyber Insurance:
Efforts to secure a quote for Cyber Insurance were ongoing. We are still awaiting further documentation from Gallagher, our current insurers.
The Clerk has made enquiries with other parishes in the Borough and none have a separate specific insurance to cover cyber-attacks. The Clerks are attending an online training session on Thursday 13th July on Cyber Security and Awareness: Safeguarding Councils in the Digital Age. It is being presented by the Risk Manager for BHIB Insurance, who specialise in Local Council insurance.
The training is being provided free of charge from Scribe Accounting. The Clerk will update Members on what is learnt from the training, at next month’s meeting.
21/23: Utility Aid Complaint – Update:
The Clerk had spoken to the Energy Ombudsman regarding our complaint against Utility Aid, which they had dismissed. According to the investigator there was insufficient evidence to support a claim of mis-selling. Although disappointing, it was not a huge surprise as the utility companies and brokers fund the regulators/ombudsman. Utility companies appear now, to be solely commission led rather than service led.
22/23: E.V Charge Points Update:
Cllr. Pethurst advised we were still waiting for BP Pulse to provide the software which will create the information we need to invoice them for any reimbursement due. Whilst waiting we have created an invoice based on the kilowatts used at 85 pence per hour as previously agreed. At least we now have a debt we can pursue.
a) Review of Social Media Policy:
A draft copy of a revised version of our current policy had been circulated to the Committee. The amendments included adding Instagram and Twitter platforms to the policy. In response to Cllr. Fairweather, Cllr. Hatcher advised that only he and the Clerks had the ability to post on our social media pages. Cllr. Hatcher also advised that the Community Development Committee had discussed removing the current rule, which does not permit the Council to follow or ‘friend’ any individual or organisation. He hopes to open this up for wider discussion at Thursday’s Full Council meeting. A revised version will be circulated to all Members.
b) Co-Option Policy
A draft copy of this new policy had been circulated to the Committee. It included the voting procedure for co-options. If the Council choose to vote by a ballot, Members were advised there would need to be an amendment of our Standing Orders to facilitate this. A discussion followed highlighting the pros and cons of voting by ballot. Cllr. Fletcher proposed that Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council include voting by ballot in their Co-Option procedure, this was seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed. A revision to the current Standing Orders will be drafted for approval as soon as is practicable. A copy of the Co-Option Procedure will be circulated to all Members.
24/23: Community Centres/Medical Centre:
An agreement still needs to be reached between the Integrated Care Board (ICB) and the new owner of the Crane Surgery, The ICB remain committed to supporting a medical centre in Cranbrook. The new owners of Lloyds Pharmacy hope to take over the premises on 1st August.
Members thanked the Clerk, Mrs Bezuidenhout, for the flexibility she had shown in attending the Highway Improvement Plan events, all of which had been held outside of normal office hours.
26/23: Grant Applications:
a) Cranbrook Apple Fair:
A request for £1,000 had been received from Cranbrook Apple Fair to help cover the cost of the event ‘Cranplona’, which is to be based on the annual Spanish event held in Pamplona. Members discussed the application in length. It was proposed by Cllr. Fairweather, seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed to award £800, which would cover the cost of a flamenco dancer with musicians. The award would be subject to the applicant completing and returning a Grant Evaluation Form within six months of the event and providing a receipt to cover the expenditure, as specified in the Grant Awarding Policy. Failure to comply with the condition may result in the grant having to be refunded.
27/23: Items for Information:
a) Cllr. Hatcher advised that following the Highway Improvement Plan events that had taken place, an electronic consultation form would be uploaded onto the website shortly, for interested parties to complete.
b) Cllr. Fletcher reported that the editorial he wrote for the last edition of The Cake, regarding the lack of non-selective secondary education and the absence of school places for non-academic pupils in this area, had been very well received. He believes Kent County Council should build a new school on the Long Field to help non-academic pupils, develop skills within vocational industries such as mechanics, farming, and construction. He is also working with Cllr. Bunyan and Selby to submit an application to register the Leigh Academy Trust’s six form centre, technology building and tennis courts as Community Assets to prevent their planned demolition going ahead.
c) Cllr. Fletcher referred to some S106 monies that may be available from the Berkeley development at Turnden, which could be used to improve facilities on the Ball Field, for the Cranbrook Juniors Football Club. He hoped that any further release of monies under that S106 agreement would be allocated for the Community Centre.
d) Cllr. Fairweather reported meeting with Cllr. Mills and a Cranbrook mother regarding the survey conducted on play equipment. He would be providing them with the brochures of our preferred suppliers, to draw up a list of equipment the Parish Council can consider purchasing within our budgetary constraints.
He had also been speaking to a resident regarding the coach park in the Regal Car Park and the accessibility issues encountered by some older vehicles. The Clerk advised if he wished to revisit the issue, as Chairman of the Environmental Management Committee, he could add it to the Committee’s next agenda.
e) Cllr. Pethurst advised the Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Development Plan had been discussed at last night’s TWBC Planning and Transportation Cabinet Advisory Board and had been passed for approval at Full Cabinet on 27th