MINUTES OF THE POLICY & RESOURCES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON TUESDAY 7th MARCH 2023
PRESENT: Cllr. Pethurst (in the Chair), Cllrs. Bunyan, Fletcher, Gilbert and Kings.
APOLOGIES: Cllr. 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.
Cllr. Bunyan declared a personal interest on the grant application from the Sissinghurst Flower Show Society as she is the President of the organisation.
115/22: Internal finance check:
Cllr. Pethurst confirmed that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order.
116/22: Authorisation of payments made after the February meeting:
A list of payments totalling £15,990.40 made after the February meeting, is filed with these minutes.
117/22: Transfers of monies between accounts:
The Clerk reported that £125,000 had been transferred to the Unity Trust account from the Lloyds Current account.
118//22: Invoices for Payment:
A list of payments to be made in March had been circulated for approval, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. It was confirmed that the invoice from Stratford’s for the surveyor’s report should be reimbursed by Fernham Homes. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the payments be approved as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
Policy and Resources £14,901.63
Properties & Burial Grounds £ 1,665.50
Community Development £ 229.00
Environmental Management £ 403.00
Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments following adoption of the minutes on Thursday evening.
119/22: King Charles III Coronation:
Cllr. Pethurst was concerned that as yet, there were no definite plans to mark the Coronation. He had asked Cllr. Gilbert to approach the Men’s Shed to see if they would be able to make some benches for the Ball Field. They were keen to help and agreed to make a prototype design for approval. They had also agreed to source the wood required to make the benches.
In response to a request for ideas from parishioners, we had also received a request from Sissinghurst residents to consider siting a bench on the footpath between Sissinghurst and Cranbrook. Cllr. Bunyan stated that the Sissinghurst Flower Show Society had said they were prepared to meet the costs. Cllr. Fletcher suggested they contact him and he would help them submit a grant application to TWBC to cover the costs involved.
120/22: Fixed rate energy contracts from Utility Aid – Update:
The issues with the new EDF contracts had not been resolved by Utility Aid despite several concerns being raised by the Clerk. Members did not think we had received the correct advice from their expert energy specialist advisors. It was agreed that the Clerk would raise a formal complaint with Utility Aid and advise EDF that we were in dispute with Utility Aid, which may impact the contract we had signed with them. The Clerk would also source advice from a different broker on the current prices being offered for fixed rate small business contracts.
121/22: Grounds Contract Tender:
Cllrs. Bunyan, Gilbert and Kings had met this morning to open the tender documents received, with the Clerk also present. The Clerk had produced a spreadsheet detailing the price, relevant experience, references, understanding of the specification and resource availability. Following the Councillors recommendation, it was proposed by Cllr. Pethurst, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed to accept the tender from our existing contractors Kent Grassland Services. Not only did they provide the most competitive quote at £29,000 + VAT, they had been providing a good service for a considerable length of time.
122/22: E.V Charge Points – The way forward:
A Teams meeting has been requested for Monday morning with the customer service agent at BP Pulse, the Clerk, Cllrs. Pethurst and Fletcher. We need to establish that our costs in running the EV points are covered by the reimbursement from BP Pulse when the energy costs rise on 1st April. There are several queries that BP Pulse need to respond to positively. Currently we are charged a bank fee of 3%, a merchant fee of 1.5% and a fixed fee of 36p per transaction. They calculate the costs on a gross figure and reimburse on a net amount. Cllr. Dyke was in discussion with KCC and other providers to see if there were any other viable options that we can pursue. In response to Cllr. Bunyan, it was confirmed the option to turn them off is still available to us. Members agreed the Clerk would invoice BP Pulse for £4,042.01 previously agreed, to address a historic shortfall in reimbursements.
123/22: Council Strategy for making a Complaint:
Cllr. Gilbert requested this item be deferred to the next meeting to give him time to confer with the Clerks before devising the flowchart.
124/22: Community Centres/Medical Centre:
Amended demolition quote for Tanyard Dental Surgery:
For safety and environmental reasons, the quote had been amended to include total removal of the back wall. This had added a further £360 + VAT to the original quote approved. It was proposed by Cllr. Bunyan, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed to accept the additional expenditure, subject to clarification that the whole building would be removed to ground level, leaving only the car park wall remaining. A decision on fencing the area would be made at a later date.
A quote to disconnect the electricity supply had been received from UKPN totally £1,592 + VAT. Once payment has been received, they will contact us within 5 working days to schedule the works. It was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed to accept the quote from UKPN.
Confirmation had been received from SGN that the gas supply was capped off at the property boundary on 31/03/2022.
Cutting off the water supply had been slightly more complicated. We had to apply to Castle Water as the previous provider, to open an account, before a case requesting disconnection could be raised.
As a consequence of requesting to open an account, we had received a water bill for £754.29 from them to cover 1 year of water costs in advance. It had been suggested by their customer service team that we apply to pay monthly by direct debit to avoid paying the whole amount and waiting for them to reimburse us, when the water is finally disconnected. The Clerk is in the process of setting up the direct debit ready for two signatories to sign off the form. Cllr. Gilbert offered to meet the representative of the water and waste companies on site, to discuss how the disconnection would be managed.
125/22: Water Rates Renewal with Everflow:
Our contract with the water company Everflow, finishes in June 2023. We are within the timeframe of the renewal window and are being asked if we would like to renew for a further 12 months. Wholesale unit rates are set to increase on 1st April this year. According to advice they are still the most competitive with their Wholesale + Retail tariff. We can choose to renew on 1, 2 or 3 years contract, however the unit rates remain the same, regardless of the term selected. Cllr. Pethurst proposed we accept a 3-year fixed rate contract with Everflow, which would benefit us when setting the budget in future, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
No issues were raised.
127/22: Grant Applications:
- a) Cranbrook Primary School:
An application had been received from a teacher at the school to support a scheme to build a Sanctuary Wellbeing Hub at the School, to benefit the staff, children and local community groups. They are looking for all or a proportion of the £27,000 they still need to raise. As yet they had not responded to a request from the Clerk, for additional information. Members agreed that unfortunately at the current time the project was not far enough advanced to consider awarding a grant. Cllr. Fletcher suggested that they approach the organisation Funding For All for advice on how to identify major grant pots that could be available to them. The Council would be happy to consider a further request from them for a specific item in the future.
- b) Sissinghurst Flower Show Society:
An application had been received requesting £500 towards the cost of summer planting in 2023, repairs to the troughs in Autumn 2023 and Spring planting in 2024. It was proposed by Cllr. Kings, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed to award the grant in full. Cllr. Bunyan abstained from the vote due to the connection to the organisation.
128/22: Items for Information:
- a) Cllr. Fletcher reported that we had approached TWBC regarding some repairs that were needed to the brick path leading to the Sissinghurst public toilets, which had been initially reported to them in 2017. On investigation it had been discovered that the lease term had come to an end in 2021. It is almost certain that TWBC will not renew the lease. The Parish will need to find the money in our reserves to cover the running costs of the toilets.
- b) Cllr. Bunyan reported that the Sissinghurst Flower Show Society were holding their Spring Flower Show at Sissinghurst Primary School on Saturday 25th March at 2.30pm.