PRESENT: Cllr. Pethurst (in the Chair), Cllrs. Bunyan, Gilbert and Hatcher.


APOLOGIES: Cllr. Fairweather and Fletcher


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.


84/23: 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.


85/23: Authorisation of payments made after the December meeting:

A list of payments totalling £18,056.85 made after the December meeting, is filed with these minutes.


86/23: Transfers of monies between accounts, including savings accounts to maximise interest revenue:

Cllr. Pethurst reported that as per the Committee decision at the meeting in November, we have now transferred £500K from the Lloyds 32 Day Notice Account to the HSBC current account in order to reinvest it in the Money Market, which has a much higher interest rate. An instruction has been given to HSBC to invest the £500K into the Money Market on the 15th January 2024 which is the maturity date of the current investment.


It had been thought that the online mandate had already been changed to match the bank mandate, however, one more step was needed to complete the process. Cllr. Pethurst confirmed that the final step had now been undertaken and the correct mandate was in place.


87/23: Invoices for Payment:

A list of payments to be made in January had been circulated, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the payments be approved as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.


These included:

Policy and Resources                         £10,899.96

Properties & Burial Grounds               £3,302.24

Environmental Management             £9,791.38


      Total         £23,993.58


The Clerk advised that Cllr. Pethurst had authorised expenditure totally £263.40 for emergency tree work to remove a fallen branch from a lime tree in St. Dunstan’s Churchyard, after recent bad weather.


Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments. The Clerk asked if this could be completed after the meeting Thursday evening and before 3pm on Friday, thus avoiding any delay in our creditors receiving payment.


88/23: KALC Community Award Scheme Nomination:

Members discussed in length, several potential candidates for the award. Cllr. Pethurst proposed that Nita Chandler be nominated for the voluntary work she undertakes for several organisations in the town; this was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed. It was agreed that Cllr. Pethurst would provide the citation to be printed on the certification. It was also suggested, that the office would keep a list of prospective nominees on file, for future years.


89/23: Zoom Subscription

The Clerk reported that if the Council wish to continue using the ‘pro’ version of the software at a cost of £129.90, the account will need to be updated with new debit card details.  Members discussed the benefits between the basic free version and the pro version, which has associated costs. Members agreed that unless it became necessary in the future, the Council would revert to the more basic free version.


90/23: Streetlighting Energy Contract:

The Clerk advised that we had been notified by Npower that our current fixed contract for the unmetered supply serving the streetlights in the town, comes to an end on 1st March 2024.  They cannot offer another fixed contract as the level of consumption no longer meets their criteria. The out of contract prices had been hugely inflated by over 400% for the daily standing charge and by over 126% for the kilowatt per hour charge. We have been advised by an energy broker that this is because they want to encourage us to seek a different supplier. We have also been warned that suppliers that will provide a fixed contract for unmetered suppliers, are extremely limited. Quotes for alternative suppliers have been requested, however they have not been provided in time to discuss at this evening’s meeting. Members agreed the item would need to be deferred until the figures have been received and comparisons can be made.


91/23: Policies:

a. Equality and Diversity Policy:

The Clerk advised that the draft policy had been brought in line with the SLCC recommended Equality and Diversity Policy and reflects current legislation. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the updated policy be accepted, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed. A copy will be circulated to all members.


b. Health and Safety Policy Statement:

Cllr. Pethurst felt the draft policy was a considerable improvement on our current policy and proposed it be accepted as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed. A copy will be circulated to all members.


c. Grant Awarding Policy:

The request to review this policy has been made at the last meeting as members felt that some applicants did not meet our criteria, but were worthy causes that would benefit from a small donation, without the need to submit an application form and provide financial information. Cllr. Hatcher proposed that additional wording be included in the current policy to formalise the option to award a donation of up to £250 to worthy causes which can demonstrate their benefit to the community.  This was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed. A revised copy will be circulated to all members as soon as possible.


92/23: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert reported that we now had all the disconnection notices we require to demolish the Tanyard Dental Surgery. Due to the length of time it had taken to obtain the certificates, the quote to demolish it had increased. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the revised quote of £8,840 be accepted, this was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed. The Clerk advised the Demolition Notice form has been submitted to TWBC for approval, this will also incur a fee of £210.00.



93/23: Staffing:

Mr and Mrs Beeken confirmed receipt of the letter referred to the Confidential Item in the minutes of the December meeting.


94/23: Grant Applications:

a) Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre:

A letter had been received from Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre requesting a grant towards the cost of running the service. The organisation is an independent charity providing free, confidential and impartial advice to residents of Paddock Wood and the surrounding parishes. Last year 18 residents from this parish were helped by the charity. Cllr. Hatcher advised although similar to the service provided by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, it is slightly different in several ways. They have a more hands on approach and can help complete application forms for benefits etc; as opposed to signposting enquiries to the correct form.  Cllr. Pethurst proposed a donation of £250 is awarded, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.


95/23: Items for Information:

None raised.

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