ECCLESHALL PARISH COUNCIL – POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE DRAFT MINUTES –  Dec 4th, 2019

A meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee was held on Wednesday December 4th, 2019 at Eccleshall Community Centre following the meeting of the Planning Committee at 8.30pm.

1). Present Were:– Councillor P. Jones (Chair); Councillor J. Jones; Councillor L. Dale; Councillor M. Watson; Councillor R. Taylor

Mrs S. J. Worden
Cllr. C. Wilkins (observer)

Apologies were received from Councillor Amos.

2). Election of Vice-Chair:- Councillor P. Jones requested nominations for Vice-Chairman of the Committee and Councillor Ros Taylor was nominated and duly elected.

3). Minutes from meeting held on September 4th, 2019:- The minutes which had previously been noted by the Council were agreed and signed.

4). Matters arising from the Minutes:- There were no matters arising.

5). Budget update for 2019/20:- Mrs Worden had circulated a report detailing the spend to date and budget summary for 2019/20 under the various headings.
The Clerk advised that £676 to be vired from contingencies to cover an overspend in publications, due to the increased print costs of the newsletters and additional printing of bus flyers, posters and surveys. The committee resolved to recommend this course of action. The budget for 2020/21 has been adjusted accordingly.
The reports were accepted by the committee.

6). To consider the budget and precept for 2020/21:- The Clerk had circulated the draft budget for consideration, and possible precept figures and provided an overview of the proposal. Potential small increases were discussed in the areas of bus subsidy, civic amenity visits and Bishops Court, should work be needed to rectify the pavement subsistence caused by the large tree on the boundary. The Clerk will review these areas and update the budget as required prior to the January meeting.
The committee reviewed the budget against a number of precept options and discussed the proposals at length. It was noted that the survey results gave a strong majority who will support an increase of £10 or £15 rise per band D household, if needed to fund additional services or projects.
The committee felt that the precept should be set at a minimum of £63,050, which equated to a rise of £1.35 per band D household per year (5%). However, some members felt that there are many other projects that the Council could become involved in and a precept of £71,000 would allow this. This equates to a rise of £5 per band D household, well below the amount supported in the survey.

The Committee resolved to recommend to the Council in the first instance that a precept of £63050.00 shall be levied for 2020/21– due to the increase in the tax base this would be an increase of 5.0% for a Band D property. However, it was also agreed to discuss the potential for an increase to £71,000, or £5 per Band D property, which will allow the involvement of the Parish Council in more projects and activities.

7). To consider roll of honour board for Freedom of Parish Recipients:- The committee discussed the idea and were in favour of the proposal. Further discussions were needed on the location for the board. The Community Centre was put forward as a suggestion but concerns were raised as to whether it would be visible enough to the majority of residents. The Clerk agreed to look into potential costs for the board.

8). To provide an update on the working group for commemorative activities upon the death of a senior royal figure.:- Minutes of a meeting of local community groups had been circulated to all members and was accepted. Cllr. L. Dale advised the meeting went well and was well supported by local organisations. Discussions included the initial arrangements for condolence books, laying of floral tributes and ways to show respect as a community during the period of mourning.

9). To provide an update with regards to VE day 75th Anniversary celebrations on 8-10 May 2020 and to discuss a budget for activities and use for funds raised. Cllrs. L. Dale, Amos and Taylor met to discuss ideas. Cllr. Taylor updated the meeting on plans to date, which include a Quiz night on Thursday 7th May 2020, followed by an afternoon tea on the Friday afternoon, with a Word War two theme. Eccleshall Singers will perform at the Community Centre and on one of the evenings there will be a World War two variety show, involving a number of local groups. Ideally, any funds raised from the event could go towards improvements of the play area at Beech Road, but as this is an ongoing discussion with the Borough Council, in the first instance any funds will be ring fenced for projects to benefit young people in Eccleshall. It was resolved to recommend that an advance budget of £200 be approved for 2019/20, and a further £200 for 2020/21, with spend allowed without prior approval up to these amounts, with the appropriate receipts.

10). Feedback from Staffing sub-committee meeting held 28th November:- meeting notes had been circulated to all members prior to the meeting and received by the committee. Items proposed by the committee were:
• Review of the Staffordshire Pension Funding Strategy Statement and proposed employer contributions for the next 3 years from April 2020. The staffing committee proposed to accept the statement and planned contributions and no feedback to the Pensions Fund was required. The committee resolved to recommend approval of this course of action.
• Noting the study days and expenses for the Clerks upcoming CertHE course. In line with the Clerks contract, the staffing committee proposed for the Clerk to attend the 3 study days per year (6 over 2 years) within works hours, and travel expenses will also be paid. The remainder of the course will be completed outside of working hours. The committee resolved to recommend approval of this course of action.
• Discussion of workload and staffing budget 2020/21. The need for additional hours was discussed and noted, due to the increased number of projects and activities undertaken by the Council. The Clerk advised she is happy to continue with the arrangement to work up to 10 additional overtime hours per month at present but is unable to take on more. The staffing committee proposed for the 2020/21 budget to include provision for an additional member of staff to support the work of the Clerk, of around 7 hours per week. The Clerk will need to look into the most appropriate structure for an assistant in terms of job role, pay scale, contractual obligations and confirmed hours, and produce a report for consideration in due course. The committee resolved to recommend approval of this course of action, and the budget includes an estimate of costs for the additional staffing.

11). Consideration of Grant Requests:-
• No grant requests had been received.

12). Any other business:- There was no further business.

13). Date of next meeting:- The next meeting was arranged for Wednesday 4th March 2020, following the planning committee meeting.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 9.30pm.