Town Council meeting 8 October 2014 – Minutes

PONTELAND TOWN COUNCIL

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES, PONTELAND ON 8 OCTOBER 2014

Present: Councillor C Rawlings (in the Chair)

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

98. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Mrs S Johnson.

99. MINUTES OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD 10 SEPTEMBER 2014

The Minutes of the Council Meeting held on 10 September 2014 were confirmed
and signed by the Mayor.

100. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Declarations of interest were submitted by Councillors Mrs Butcher and Shanley in respect of Minute 121.

101. MATTERS ARISING

(i) Minute 84 – Northumberland Strategic Housing and Land
Availability Assessment (SHLAA)
The Clerk reported that the Council’s response had been submitted to NCC by the deadline date.
The Mayor thanked the East Ward Councillors for their input into the response.

(ii) Minute 90 – War Remembrance Working Party
The Clerk informed the Council that she had recently taken delivery of the booklet produced by Mrs Muriel Sobo entitled “We will remember them”.

102. PLANNING

(i) Planning Committee
Minutes of the meeting held on 23 September 2014 had been circulated for information.

(ii) Report on recent planning decisions
The Mayor reported that he and Councillors Mrs Noble and Varley had attended the site visit to the Police HQ on Monday 6 October. The Area Planning Committee was considering this application on 15 October and the Town Council had been asked if they wished to speak at this meeting.

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103. MEMBERSHIP OF PLANNING COMMITTEE

A report relating to the problems being experienced obtaining a quorum for the above meetings had been circulated.

The Highways Working Party had been moved to the Friday following the Town Council meeting and it was hoped that this would assist with the issue for this Working Party. This would be monitored.

However, the Planning Committee had had to be moved or cancelled due to the lack of a quorum on several occasions recently. The Chairman of the Planning Committee provided the relevant statistics. The Committee had delegated powers to act within its terms of reference and it was important that it continued to meet at its agreed time in the Council’s calendar.

Various suggestions were made in order to strengthen the membership.
The Deputy Mayor offered to alternate attendance at these meetings with the Mayor as ex officio members.

RESOLVED –
(i) Councillor Mrs Greenwell be appointed to the Planning Committee.
(ii) The Council’s Standing Orders be amended to allow each member of the Council to attend the Planning Committee as substitute members as and when required.
(iii) The Mayor and Deputy Mayor alternate their attendance at the Planning Committee as ex officio members when required.

104. PROJECTS REPORT

A report was presented for consideration.
As part of the land survey work, a tree consultant had been asked to submit a quotation for a survey of trees on each area of land in PTC ownership. A quote had been received from Woodsman Arboriculture Services in the sum of £1880 plus VAT. This included a reduction of £470 if all work was ordered at the same time. There were currently 8 parcels of land with a number of areas included within each one.

The Clerk reported that work was progressing well on the Coates Green footpath.

It was also reported that quotes were being sought for work to the second timber footbridge in the Park. This related to abutment repairs and scour protection. Details of quotes received would be reported to Council for approval.

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104. PROJECTS REPORT(continued)

RESOLVED –
(i) The report be noted.
(ii) The quote from Woodsman Arboriculture Services in the sum of £1880 plus VAT be accepted and it was noted that this would be funded from contingencies.
(iii) The Council note the information relating to the second timber footbridge as outlined above.

105. WISH LIST 2015-16

Councillors were given a final reminder relating to submission of items for inclusion within the wish list for 2015-16. Submissions were required by the end of October.

RESOLVED – The information be noted.

106. ANNUAL AUDIT RETURN 2013-14

It was reported that the completed annual audit return had been received from the Council’s external auditors BDO Stoy Hayward.

The Accounts had been accepted and the auditors had no issues to report. A copy of the return was circulated for consideration and approval.
Staff were thanked for their work in relation to the Audit.

RESOLVED –The Annual Return and auditors report be accepted and in accordance with Regulations, a Notice of Conclusion of Audit be displayed for 14 days.

107. VEXATIOUS POLICY

Members were reminded that consideration of this report had been deferred to this meeting when Councillor Dodd would be in attendance.

Councillor Dodd outlined his reasons for submitting this policy for approval.

The Clerk stated that elements of this policy could be included in the Complaints policy that was required in order to achieve quality status.
Councillor Dodd suggested that this policy should be adopted temporarily until such time as the complaints document was agreed in order to protect the Council’s staff.

Councillor Cowey offered to assist with preparing this policy.

RESOLVED –
(i) The Council agreed that various elements of the vexatious policy be incorporated within the complaints policy to be prepared by the Clerk and Councillor Cowey.
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107. VEXATIOUS POLICY (continued)

(ii) In the interim the vexatious policy would be agreed and implemented as an interim measure for a period of no more than 6 months in order to safeguard the Council’s staff.

108. REVIEW OF QUALITY COUNCIL SCHEME

The Clerk had submitted a report relating to proposed changes to the Quality Scheme from January 2015.

Councillors were reminded that the Town Council was only one of five Councils in Northumberland to hold Quality status.

The new scheme would have three levels, Foundation, Quality and Quality Gold. A summary of requirements for each level was outlined within the report. The Town Council would in all probability be able to achieve the Foundation or Quality level although some work would be required to obtain Quality Gold however, there could be a problem with regard to training. The Clerk for example would be required to achieve 12 continuing professional development (CPD) points in the last year. Methods of obtaining these points would have to be examined although it was suggested that they may be available from other sources and not just those linked to local councils. There was also work to be done in relation to the formulation of some policies including a training policy. Assistance from Councillors with experience in such matters was offered.

RESOLVED – The report be accepted and the Clerk carry out some further research as to what was required to achieve the Foundation or Quality awards and report back to a future meeting.

109. MEETING WITH HEAD OF PLANNING – NCC- 24.9.14

The Mayor and the Clerk met with Mrs Karen Ledger, Head of Planning, Economy and Housing and Locality Officer Mr Richard Powell to discuss current concerns. Various items were covered and a resume of the meeting was circulated for information

RESOLVED – The report be accepted

110. MEETING WITH PTC INTERNAL AUDITOR – 24.9.14

Councillors Rawlings and Ramsay and the Town Clerk met with the Town Councils Internal Auditor Mr Peter Basnett. Mr Basnett supplied a report detailing his view of the Internal Audit process including his experience and credentials. A copy of the report and a resume of the meeting were circulated. Councillors were reassured that the move towards Electronic Banking was as secure as the current practice and the Clerk was to investigate this further with a view to submitting a report to the November meeting.

RESOLVED – The report be accepted.
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111. REVIEW OF STANDING ORDERS/FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

Councillors were informed that an annual review of Standing Orders and Financial Regulations was required.

It was proposed that a small sub group be set up to review the documents and a report would be submitted at a future meeting within this financial year in order to comply with the relevant regulations.

It was reported that a change would be required to allow filming or recording of Town Council meetings in order to comply with recent legislation as this was currently prohibited.

RESOLVED – A Working Group comprising of the Mayor, Councillor Mrs Caisley and Councillor Ramsay be established to review Standing Orders and Financial Regulations and a report be submitted to a future meeting before the end of the financial year.

112. NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN GROUP – APPROVAL OF VARIED TERMS
OF REFERENCE FOR STEERING GROUP & MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT WITH THE PCP ALSO RATIFICATION OF MEMBERSHIP OF THE STEERING GROUP

A report by Councillor Ramsay in relation to the above had been circulated.

The Terms of Reference and Memorandum of Agreement for the Steering Group required some amendment following advice received from the County Council. Details of these changes were outlined within the report. A copy of the revised documents as well as the existing ones had also been circulated.

The Town Council was also required to ratify the membership of the Steering Group as set out within the report.

RESOLVED –
(i) The Council approve the amended Terms of Reference and Memorandum of Agreement as set out within the report.

(ii) It was agreed that the Clerk be authorised to sign the amended Memorandum of Agreement and arrange for the Chairman of the Ponteland Community Partnership to sign on behalf of that organisation.

(iii) The Council ratify the membership of the Steering Group as outlined within the report and note the information with reference to its representation and organisation.

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113. LETTER FROM ROTARY CLUB – Re Yew Tree and Time Capsule

Councillors were reminded that permission had been given to the Ponteland Rotary Club to plant a Yew tree and erect a memorial stone near to the Memorial Hall car park to mark their 50th anniversary this year.

The Rotary Club had decided to place a time capsule beneath the stone and plaque and had asked if the Town Council and others wished to place something within the capsule.

Suggestions such as a copy of the Council’s current Who’s Who document and a montage of well-known landmarks had been made. Councillors were asked to consider the matter.

It was suggested that details of what the Council does should also be included.

RESOLVED – That the information as outlined above including details of what the Town Council does be included within the time capsule.

114. WAR REMEMBRANCE WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 8 September and 3 October had been circulated. The Ponteland Repertory Society had agreed to attend the event on one day of the exhibition wearing costumes from their forthcoming production “Oh what a lovely war”. Members agreed this was a good idea.

Councillor Dodd agreed to contact a local person who did battle re-enactment who may be willing to be involved.

Councillors were urged to put forward items for display and/or assist with the rota for manning the exhibition.

RESOLVED – The minutes be accepted.

115. ENVIRONMENT WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 15 September had been circulated.

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

(i) Agree to extend the existing hedging to the front wall of the Pele House development with the same species as existing.

(ii) To submit the items included within the Budget for Environment 2015-16 report to the Council as part of the budget process taking into account the caveat relating to the proposed park contractor that stated that if agreed that it would be reviewed after the 12 month period.
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116. HIGHWAYS WORKING PARTY

Minutes of a meeting of the above Working Party held on 12 September 2014 had been circulated.

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

(i) New Road Markings at Broadway – Ask the County Council to consider the request to install lining, indicating two-way traffic, at the junction close to Dobson’s Estate Agent at Broadway Shopping Centre; as it was a useful safety indicator for motorists.

(ii) Paint Darras Road Bridge – Agree that the Clerk be given permission to investigate necessary precautions, seek prices and permissions to paint only the areas of the bridge visible by the roadside in the current colour.

116 (i) Report re Cyclists Dismount signs.

A report re the above was circulated for consideration. Councillors considered the report and agreed the following.

RESOLVED: To install 5 no. Cyclist Dismount signs at a cost of £1560, around the Merton Way shopping Centre; in locations recommended by the Highways Authority.

117. NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL REPORT

County Councillor R Dodd reported that the Joint Meeting with NCC and Parish and Town Councils would be held on Tuesday 21 October at Hexham and that this would follow the “speed dating” format adopted at the last meeting.

He also confirmed that the County Council had made a decision to move their offices to Ashington and this had recently been reported in the local press and on news programmes.

118. MAYOR’S REPORT

(i) Mayor’s Diary – July- September 2014
The Mayor had submitted details of his diary engagements from July to September.

(ii) Attendance at NALC meeting 6 September 2014
The Mayor had circulated a written report relating to his attendance at the above meeting.

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118. MAYOR’S REPORT (continued)

(ii) Attendance at Parish and Town Council Conference at County Hall – 25.9.14
The Mayor had submitted a further report regarding his attendance at the first
Conference organised by NCC for parish and town councils. He felt the
Conference had been well attended and organised. He also referred to the
dedicated website for parish and town councils that had recently been launched.

119. REPORTS BY TOWN COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES ON LOCAL ORGANISATIONS
(i) Ponteland Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
Minutes of a meeting held on 29 July 2014 had been circulated for information.
Councillor Varley asked how many people had attended the recent consultation events held by the Steering Group. This information would be provided.

(ii) Ponteland Community Trust – 8.9.14
Councillor Mrs Noble had submitted a written report of her attendance at the above meeting on 8 September. Councillor Cowey had also been in attendance.

The meeting had discussed funding streams, a projects list and details of the initial public engagement event being held on 9 October at St Mary’s Church Hall to which local organisations had been invited. Interest appeared to be minimal at this stage. In response to a query Councillor Mrs Noble agreed to check which local organisations had been invited to the event.

120. ACCOUNTS/ BANK RECONCILIATION/ BUDGET UPDATE/

The Accounts Committee approved payments totalling £32,142.05 and the transfer of this sum from the Council’s Deposit Account. The Bank reconciliation for September 2014 was also approved. A monthly income and expenditure review report showing amounts received and expended against each main budget heading was accepted together with details of budget revisions for the quarter ending 30 September.

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DATE OF NEXT MEETING – WEDNESDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2014 AT 6.45 P.M. AT THE TOWN COUNCIL OFFICES