Town Council Meeting 11 October 2017 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES, PONTELAND ON 11 OCTOBER 2017

Present: Councillor A Varley (in the Chair)

Councillors S Ahmed, L Darwin, R Dodd, Mrs C Greenwell, A Hall, Mrs S Johnson, Mrs K Overbury and A Shanley.

PRESENTATION BY CHIEF FIRE OFFICER
The Chief Officer for Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Paul Hedley was in attendance in respect of the recent consultation on the Fire and Rescue Plan for 2017-2021.
The Town Council had responded to the consultation and raised some queries regarding resources and Mr Hedley wanted to respond to them. He also thanked the Town Council for taking the time to respond.
Mr Hedley gave an interesting presentation regarding resources and availability of fire service personnel and appliances across the County.
He stated that the aim of the Fire and Rescue service was to have the maximum availability of resources on a 24/7 basis. Unfortunately, this was not always possible for various reasons such as leave, sickness and family issues.
In relation to Ponteland, whilst appliances may not be available 100% of the time, he assured Members that there was always appropriate cover from either West Hartford or West Denton Stations. The response times from both stations had been tested and were comparable with the time required to call in retained staff.
Mr Hedley mentioned the problems that the Fire Service faced with recruitment of retained officers and he hoped that it would be possible to make this more attractive to interested people to boost the numbers of retained officers in the County. He said he was currently looking at recruitment issues such as barriers to recruitment and what causes staff to leave. Nationally it seemed that there were problems with work/life balance and he said that the Fire Service were looking at ways to improve flexibility for personnel.
Councillors asked if the number of hours retained firefighters were asked to commit to had an adverse impact on recruitment and Mr Hedley stated that he was in discussions with the Union regarding this issue.

Mr Hedley stated that there were current 8 staff at Ponteland with a FTE of 5.75. The Northumberland service were currently running a trainees course. Ten trainees were taking part with one from Ponteland.

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PRESENTATION BY CHIEF FIRE OFFICER (Continued)

The Chief Fire Officer mentioned a trial that was being undertaken in Wooler and Seahouses where appliances could attend calls with less than four personnel. This was properly risk assessed etc but only related to minor incidents such as rubbish or chimney fires. This increased the ability to provide cover by 12%. There was interest in rolling this out elsewhere if the trial was successful.
Mr Hedley was thanked for his presentation and for attending the meeting.

84. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mrs C Caisley, T Edwards-Clay and Mrs K Woodrow.

85. MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD 13 SEPTEMBER 2017

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 13 September 2017 were confirmed
and signed by the Mayor.
RESOLVED – The minutes be approved subject to the following amendments:
Minute 83 – PTC Offices – insert the word ‘would’ in between ‘Clerk’ and ‘write’ in the resolution.

86. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Councillor Mrs Greenwell declared an interest in item 93.

87. MATTERS ARISING

Minute 75 – Remembrance Sunday
The Clerk reported that Councillors had been informed that the return parade back to the Leisure Centre would take place due to the comments received from the Armed Forces representatives.
Minute 8 – Twizell Play Area
The Clerk reported that she had contacted Karbon Homes and advised them that the Council wished to proceed with the lease. She had been informed that there would be costs involved and Councillors noted that information.

88. PLANNING

(i) Planning Committee
Minutes of meetings held on 22 August, 5 and 19th September 2017 were circulated for information.

(ii) Report on recent planning decisions
There was nothing to report

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89. GRANT APPLICATION

(i) Ponteland Memorial Hall
A grant application had been received from the Ponteland Memorial Hall for a grant towards their running costs.
The Clerk had submitted a report informing members that the grant amount had been included in the budget for this year.

RESOLVED – A grant of £6300 be approved.

90. PROJECTS REPORT

The projects report had been circulated for the information of Councillors.

RESOLVED – The report be accepted.

91. ANNUAL AUDIT RETURN 2016-17

The report of the Clerk to the Council in relation to the above had been circulated.
The completed Annual Audit Return had been received from the Council’s external auditors, BDO LLP. The Auditors had not raised any issues with the Town Council. A copy of the Audit Return was circulated for information.
The information was now on display for a period of 14 days on notice boards and the Town Council’s website.

RESOLVED – The report and the Annual Return be accepted.

92. REVIEW OF STANDING ORDERS/FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

Councillors were informed that they had to carry out a review of their Standing Orders and Financial Regulations once a year.
The Town Council were asked to set up a small Working Party to review these documents. They would hold one meeting to discuss their comments and report back to a future Council meeting before the end of March.

It was agreed that the meeting would be held in the early evening to allow those Councillors who work to be part of the discussions.

RESOLVED – A Working Party comprising the Mayor, Councillors Darwin, Overbury and either Mrs C Caisley or A Shanley be set up to review the Standing Orders and Financial Regulations for 2017-18.

93. SALARY REVIEW – STAFF

The Clerk reported that the Council were expected to review the terms and conditions of staff on an annual basis. The usual format was that a small Working Party be established to consider a report produced by the Clerk to examine staff remuneration and terms and conditions. The Working Party would then report back to the Council with recommendations if any amendments were required.
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93. SALARY REVIEW – STAFF (Continued)

Councillors were reminded that the Town Council staff were paid in accordance with the National Joint Council pay scales and any increases were reported to the Council for information.

RESOLVED – A Working Party comprising the Mayor, Councillors A Hall, Mrs S Johnson and Mrs K Overbury be appointed to carry out this review and report back to the Council.

94 HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 15 September 2017 had been circulated. There were no recommendations.

RESOLVED – The minutes be approved.

95. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT

Councillor Richard Dodd reported that he was trying to progress the works to the car park at the back of Merton Way. There was some discussion re the timing of these works and Councillors hoped it could coincide with school holidays to avoid major traffic disruption.
The application for the new school and leisure complex would be out for consultation very soon and there would be a 12-week consultation period.
Councillor Dodd reported that there seemed to be plans for a school crossing patrol warden at the Darras Hall school although there were problems with recruitment.

96. MAYOR’S REPORT
(i) Mayor’s Diary
The Mayor submitted details of his diary engagements for September,October and December 2017.

97. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS
(i) Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
There were no minutes of the Steering Group to report at the present time.
(ii) Email from Chair of the Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan
Steering Group
The Chair of the above Steering Group had asked if an email she had sent out to the Clerk could be circulated to the Council.
She wished to express her appreciation for the support given to her over the period of 5 years when the plan was being prepared and to the office staff at PTC who had been very helpful, especially during the past 6 months.

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97. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS (Continued)
(ii) Email from Chair of the Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan
Steering Group
The Council wished to express their appreciation to the members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group who had given up their time to work on the Plan for the last five years.
It was agreed that a letter would be sent to each member of the Group thanking them for their hard work and commitment.

(iii) Ponteland Community Partnership

Minutes of a meeting of the Ponteland Community Partnership held on 20 September 2017 had been circulated for information.

In relation to item 4 the Clerk was asked to contact the PCP Chairman and state that meetings in relation to the skate park would be organised by the Town Council.

RESOLVED – The minutes be received and the Clerk be instructed to contact the PCP as set out above.

98. ACCOUNTS/ BANK RECONCILIATION/ BUDGET UPDATE/

The Accounts Committee approved payments totalling £33,675.47 and the transfer of this sum from the Council’s Deposit Account. A copy of the monthly budget report was also circulated as well as the Bank reconciliation for September.

RESOLVED – The reports be approved.

CHAIRMAN
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DATE OF NEXT MEETING – WEDNESDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2017 AT 6.45 P.M. AT THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES