The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.
PRESENT: Cllr. Beck (in the Chair), Fairweather, Fletcher, Gilbert and Smith.
APOLOGIES: Cllr. Warne.
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.
62/20: Internal finance check:
Cllr. Beck confirmed that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order.
63/20: Authorisation of payments made after the November meeting:
A list of payments totalling £15,606.90 made after the November meeting is filed with these minutes.
64/20: Transfers of monies between accounts:
The Clerk confirmed no transfers between accounts had been necessary since the last meeting. Cllr. Beck proposed that £10,000 be transferred from the Lloyds current account to HSBC current account before the end of this month, to ensure that sufficient funds are available to pay any standings order and direct debits set up from that account. This was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.
65/20: Invoices for Payment:
A list of payments to be made in December had been circulated for approval, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed to authorise the payments. Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments.
Policy and Resources £15,985.74
Properties & Burial Grounds £ 1,370.03
Environmental Management £10,726.23
66/20: Five Year Plan and Budget:
a) Policy & Resources:
Members discussed the working budget and Five Year Plan which had been prepared by the Clerk along with Cllrs. Beck and Fletcher.
We had been informed by TWBC, that the tax base had been reduced. In order to keep the precept at a level that parishioners do not pay anymore, we needed to cut some of the budgets that had been previously approved at committee level, to reduce our precept demand. The Chairmen of the Committees affected had agreed, that this was acceptable. With this in mind Cllr. Beck proposed the Five Year Plan and Budget for Policy and Resources, be accepted as presented, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. This was seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed.
b) Economic & Development:
Members also discussed the working budget and Five Year Plan which had been prepared for Economic and Development. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck that both be accepted as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed. A copy is filed with these minutes.
c) General Account:
Members were advised that there was already £11,000 in earmarked funds allocated to the general account, for contingency and expenditure to cover incidents of vandalism. With this in mind, Members agreed that no budget requirement was necessary.
67/20: Draft Tunbridge Wells Agreement:
Cllr. Fletcher gave a brief outline of the purpose of the Tunbridge Wells Agreement. Amendments had been discussed recently to improve the way parishes and Borough Planning Officers work together. Cllr. Smith felt this would enhance current practices. The Monitoring Officer had also proposed a small amendment following a recent review of Code of Conduct Complaints. Members had been circulated a copy of the Draft Agreement in full, prior to the meeting. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed to delegate Cllr. Fletcher to respond positively to the suggested amendments at the TWBC Chairman’s Meeting.
68/20: KALC 2021 Community Award Scheme:
The Clerk advised we had been approached by KALC to make a nomination for the 2021 Community Award. Cllr. Fletcher proposed that Wellbeing in the Weald should be nominated for their contribution to the Community over the past year. He would be happy to write the thirty words required for the nomination and certificate. This was seconded by Cllr. Beck and agreed.
The Caretakers salaries were discussed, it was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed that their salaries should be increased to remain in line with the minimum living wage. An estimation of the expected increase had been included in the budget figures. A small increase to their rent was also agreed.
The Clerks salaries were discussed, it was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed to approve their annual increment pay increase as per the conditions of their contracts. The Clerk would move to SCP 32, and the Deputy Clerks to SCP 25 and 23 respectively.
70/20: Public Toilet Provision:
We had received a request from Honorary Mayor Linda Page, to provide public conveniences in the Town, to replace those closed down by the Borough a few years ago. Members discussed the various options in depth.
The issues being, where to locate them and the costs involved in what would be a temporary measure, as toilet facilities were to be included in plans for the new Community Centre. The Clerk had already spent a great deal of time researching ‘pod type’ options on the internet, but with little success.
Cllr. Fletcher advised he was about to send a revised Head of Terms for the Carriers Road Parking Area to TWBC. This area may prove a suitable location for temporary facilities. It was agreed that he and Cllr. Gilbert would contact a local toilet rental company and make enquires into a long-term rental agreement, as a potential solution until the Community Centre is built.
71/20: Grant Applications:
a) An application had been received from Hi-Kent requesting £160 to help them run their free hearing aid service. They are usually based in Cranbrook Library, which has not been available since the first lockdown. However, they have continued to provide the same services as usual by post, personal contact and delivery, to ensure nobody is left without the help they need. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed to award the grant in full, subject to the monies being ringfenced for provision of the service, in this Parish.
b) An application had been received from the Tunbridge Wells Counselling Centre requesting £200 for their Assisted Places Scheme. They are a mental health charity that provides professional counselling to those who otherwise would be unable to afford it. It was proposed by Cllr. Smith, seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed to award the amount requested, subject to it being used for clients from this Parish. It was also agreed to request feedback on the organisation’s activity in the Parish.
72/20: Items for Information:
None were raised.