Town Council meeting 12 November 2014 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES, PONTELAND ON 12 NOVEMBER 2014

Present: Councillor C Rawlings (in the Chair)

Councillors, Mrs J Butcher, Mrs C Caisley, P Cowey, R Dodd, Mrs C Greenwell, Mrs S Johnson, R Ramsay, A Shanley, Mrs E Thompson and A Varley.

122. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Mrs L Noble.

123. MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD 8 OCTOBER 2014

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 8 October 2014 were confirmed
and signed by the Mayor.

124. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Councillor A Shanley declared an interest in item 127(ii) and left the meeting.

125. MATTERS ARISING

(i) Minute 119(i) Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.
The Mayor reported that he had informed Councillors that 191 people had attended the recent consultation events held by the Steering Group.

126. PLANNING

(i) Planning Committee
Minutes of the meeting held on 7 and 21 October 2014 had been circulated for information.

(ii) Report on recent planning decisions
The Chairman reported that item 1.2 of the minutes of the meeting held on 21 October had been withdrawn although the objection had still been submitted.

The Mayor made reference to the number of dwellings agreed in the 2 sets of minutes circulated which totalled 295.

127. GRANTS

(i) Ponteland RFC – A grant application in respect of a contribution towards hosting Ponteland Beer Festival 2015 had been received.

RESOLVED – A grant of £250 be approved.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

127. GRANTS (Continued)

(ii) Ponteland Memorial Hall – A grant application in respect of a contribution towards the annual running costs of the Memorial Hall had been received. This was an annual grant and the sum of £6300 had been included within the budget for this purpose.

RESOLVED – A grant of £6300 be approved.

128. PROJECTS REPORT

A report was presented for consideration.
Councillors were made aware that there had been two incidents of vandalism at the skate park. The Police were investigating the matter and works to remove and repaint over the graffiti were in hand.

Some additional work was required from the office to enable the Solicitor to complete the land survey.
The tree consultant has been asked to carry out the survey of trees on Council owned land as agreed at the October meeting.
Councillors were reminded that as part of the wish list discussions in April 2014, it was agreed to go ahead with the replacement of some of the fencing bordering the Park on the West Road. A sum of £1500 had been allocated and agreed for that purpose.

Requests for quotes were recently sent out to three companies. Two had not submitted a price.

A quote in the sum of £1445.50 has been received from RHD and it was intended to award the contract to this company.

RESOLVED –
(i) The report be noted.
(ii) The quote from RHD in the sum of £1445.50 plus VAT be accepted and it was noted that this would be funded from the amount allocated in the wish list 2014-15

129. REMOVAL OF BIRD HIDE – FOX COVERT LANE

Quotes had been sought from three companies regarding the removal of this structure and two companies had submitted prices for the work which included, demolition of the structure and disposal off site, removal of the steps, carry out some rotavation, seeding of the area and provision of new fencing.

RESOLVED –– The Council agree to award the contract to Northumbrian Turf & Landscaping in the sum of £535.00 plus VAT. It was noted that the works would be funded from contingencies.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

130. RISK MANAGEMENT REPORT 2014-15

A Risk Management report for 2014/15 was circulated for the consideration of the Council.
In accordance with the Account and Audit Regulations 2011, the Council must review their risk management on an annual basis.
A table setting out the various risks involved in the financial management side of the Council was also attached for comment and approval.

It was felt that potential risks to the Council including its financial management were well covered by the various processes and procedures currently in place.

RESOLVED – The report be accepted.

131. INTERNAL CONTROLS REPORT

A report on the internal controls of the Council was submitted for consideration and approval.

RESOLVED – The report be approved.

132. REVIEW OF INTERNAL AUDIT

A report relating to the review of internal audit for 2014/15 was submitted for consideration and approval.

The report set out the draft audit programme for approval and this formed the basis of the work carried out by the Council’s Internal Auditor during the year.
An internal audit review checklist was also submitted as part of the report.

RESOLVED –
(i) The report and audit programme as submitted be approved.
(ii) The Council approve the re-appointment of Mr P Basnett as their Internal Auditor for the coming year 2015-16.

133. ELECTRONIC BANKING

A report regarding the above was produced and circulated to Councillors. The purpose of the report was to review the Council’s current banking arrangements. Councillors discussed the report in some detail. The majority of Councillors were in favour of moving to electronic banking although some questions had still to be answered.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

133. ELECTRONIC BANKING (Continued)

A comparison table showing charges etc by the two providers under discussion had also been circulated.

It was reported that at a recent meeting with the Internal Auditor he had indicated that he had no issues with moving to this form of banking although he would need to agree the procedures to be put in place before implementation.

RESOLVED
(i) That the Council agree in principle to move to electronic banking with the suggested new provider subject to a further report being submitted to Council in the New Year.
(ii) Ensure any proposed changes were discussed with the Internal Auditor in the New Year with a view to implementation in an agreed timescale, probably from the new financial year.

134. LETTER FROM NCC RE COUNCIL TAX SUPPORT SCHEME

The Mayor had received a letter from NCC explaining its position re the above. Councillors were informed that the grant in respect of the localisation of council tax benefit would again not be passed on by NCC in 2015-16.
A copy of the letter and the subsequent reply had been circulated.
It was reported that only 31 Councils were not passing this grant onto parish and town councils whilst hundreds did so.
Councillors would be kept informed of any developments on this matter.

RESOLVED – The information be noted.

135. INTRODUCTION OF A SIGNING IN BOOK FOR TOWN COUNCIL OFFICE

A report re the above proposal was circulated for discussion. The suggestion had been made by Councillor Mrs Greenwell and it was hoped that implementation would assist with health and safety and also provide information as to number of visitors, the time involved in these visits, their purpose and who they were seeing. This would provide useful information for the Council to review after a trial period.

RESOLVED – The Council agreed to introduce a signing in book for an initial period of 6 months after which time the relevant information would be reviewed.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

136. SALARY REVIEW – STAFF

Councillors were informed that it was necessary to review the Salary scales on an annual basis to meet the guidelines contained in a report from the National Association of Local Council Clerks.

It was proposed that a small group be formed to prepare recommendations for a future meeting.

RESOLVED – A Working Group comprising of the Mayor, Councillors P Cowey, Mrs S Johnson and R Ramsay be established to review the salaries of all staff and a report be submitted to the December meeting if possible.

137. WAR REMEMBRANCE WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 16 and 31 October had been circulated.

RESOLVED – The minutes be approved.

(i) Review of Remembrance Day Service and Exhibition

The Chairman of the Working Party, Councillor Peter Cowey referred to the recent exhibition of War Remembrance. He stated that over 500 people had visited the exhibition held on 8/9 November and the Council had received some excellent feedback. He wished to express sincere thanks to all those who had helped with the exhibition including the Working Party, those who had helped to set up and dismantle the exhibition, those who had acted as stewards and provided refreshments and members of the public who had loaned items and provided information on their relatives etc. He also wished to thank the Clerk, Kath Mavin and also Caroline Thompson who had pulled the exhibition together and carried out extensive research etc.

The Mayor asked if any Councillors had any ideas for any future events to note them down and they would be considered at a future de-brief meeting.
A suggestion for a Visitors Book was made and would be noted for any future events.

The Clerk reported on the excellent sales of the booklet produced by Muriel Sobo, “We Will Remember Them”. All copies had been sold and the proceeds would be donated to the Royal British Legion.
The Council wished to express their appreciation to Mrs Sobo for the production of the booklet that had been so well received.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

138. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 20 October had been circulated.

RESOLVED – That the minutes and the following recommendations be approved.

(i) Coates Green Hedge Works
a) Carry out works to the Oak Memorial tree as set out within the report and replace the plaque.
b) the hedging near to the litter bin as shown on page 1 of the report be retained to act as screening for the bin.
c) The works on page 2 of the report to remove unsightly shrubbery and replace with grass be carried out.
d) The works to the second area of Coates Green as set out within the report be agreed.

(ii) Letter from Civic Society re Coates Green additional path
It was agreed that the request be refused and that some grass seed be placed on the area in an attempt to allow it to grow back.

(iii) Tree guards
It was agreed to approve the necessary expenditure in relation to the erection of tree guards around the memorial trees in the Park as per the design outlined.

(iv) Lower Planters at Merton Way
It was agreed to proceed with the quotation for the flexi paving at a cost of £4271.30 plus VAT and note that part of this sum would be met from contingencies. It was also noted that the Working Party would decide on the final colour choice.

139. HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 10 October 2014 had been circulated.

RESOLVED – The minutes and the following recommendations were approved:-

Information sign at Meadowfield Industrial Estate – Agreed that the sign be installed in front of the fence around the Recycling Centre and submit a planning application for advertising consent at a cost of £110 to progress this item.

140. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT

Councillor Dodd referred to the Core Strategy which would be out for consultation from mid December.
He also reported on discussions he had had regarding the parking problems at the back of Merton Way. He was confident that progress was being made.

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CHAIRMAN DATE

141. MAYOR’S REPORT

(i) Mayor’s Allowance
The Mayor supplied a report detailing expenditure from his account to date.

(ii) Mayor’s Diary – October 2014
The Mayor had submitted details of his diary engagements for October.

(ii) Christmas Drinks Event – Thursday 11 December 2014
The Mayor announced that he intended to host a Christmas Drinks Event on Thursday 11th December.

142. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS

(i) Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
Minutes of a meeting held on 4 September and 9 October 2014 had been circulated for information.

(ii) NALC AGM – 18.10.14
The Mayor had submitted a written report of his attendance at the above meeting on 18 October.

(iii) Ageing Well In Ponteland – 20.10.14
Councillor Mrs C Greenwell had submitted a copy of the minutes of above meeting held on 20 October 2014.

iv) Joint meeting with NCC/Parish and Town Councils 20.10.14
Councillor R Ramsay had submitted a report of his attendance at the above meeting held on 21 October 2014.

143. ACCOUNTS/ BANK RECONCILIATION/ BUDGET REPORT

The Accounts Committee approved payments totalling £53,116.43 and the transfer of this sum from the Council’s Deposit Account. The Bank reconciliation for October 2014 was also approved. A monthly income and expenditure review report showing amounts received and expended against each main budget heading was accepted

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CHAIRMAN

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DATE

DATE OF NEXT MEETING – WEDNESDAY 10 DECEMBER 2014 AT 6.45 P.M. AT THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES