Minutes of the meeting held on Monday 22nd June 2020 at 7pm via video conferencing.
Present: Cllrs Mike Facey (Chair) Andy Brewer, Bill Hancock, Nick Tolley, Chris Allen, Sue Barber, Dawn Carey, Peter Clayton, Rich Gardiner-White, Helen Groves, Phil Harvey, Sue Harvey, Andy Hodge, Janet Keen, Mike Murphy, Louise Parkin, Colette Winfield with Samantha Winter, Town Clerk, Lorna Williams, Deputy Clerk, Sally Jones, RFO and Lorna Brewer, Admin Officer
1 member of press and 1 member of the public were in attendance with County Cllr David Fothergill and County Cllr John Woodman
Prior to the meeting Leader of Somerset County Council Cllr David Fothergill gave a presentation regarding Local Government Reorganisation, in which he spoke about the County Council’s proposal to make a business case to the Government for the formation of a unitary authority. Cllr Fothergill confirmed that the County’s finances are in good order, with a balanced budget and over £70m in reserves.
The chairman thanked Cllr Fothergill and stated that he is confident the Town Council will listen to the all bodies on the matter of local government reorganisation and be willing to work with any system that prevails.
Cllr Mathews was absent.
85/20/TC Declarations of Interest in items on this agenda & dispensations granted
86/20/TC Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the Town Council meeting held on Monday 4th May 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The minutes of the extraordinary meetings held 28th May and 11th June 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
87/20/TC Declaration of acceptance of office from the Chairman
The signed and witnessed declaration of acceptance of office was received and approved.
88/20/TC Action List
The Action List was noted as completed
89/20/TC Report from the Police
90/20/TC Chairman’s Announcements
The chairman thanked officers for their efforts over recent weeks as everyone works in unusual and challenging circumstances.
Councillors are welcome to request hard copy meeting papers, but are requested to bear in mind that staff are not working from the office at the current time and therefore any requests should be made at least 3 days before a meeting.
A small celebratory event to mark Armed Forces Day event will be held with the British Legion, Mayor and Deputy Mayor on Saturday 27th June at 12 noon at the flag pole. It was confirmed that there will be no cadets’ parade and that social distancing will apply.
91/20/TC Reports from County Cllrs on County Council
Cllr Woodman reported that £6million had been used to provide PPE and confirmed that there has been an increase in County Council reserves. He took a number of questions from town councillors on highways matters and stated that he will look into issues raised as information is sent to him.
92/20/TC Reports from District Cllrs on District Council relevant matters
Members received a written report from Cllr Keen on wellbeing initiatives.
93/20/TC Reports from members attending meetings of outside bodies
Members received a written report from Cllr Winfield on the Highbridge Festival of Arts
Motions for note/resolution
94/20/TC To form an initial view on potential concerns & opportunities from LGR, from the perspective of this Town Council.
The chairman reiterated his earlier comment that he believed the Town Council will listen to all bodies involved in the matter of local government reorganisation and will be willing to work with any system that prevails. He sought and received opinions from councillors that this was a fair position statement.
Discussions included an acknowledgment that, whilst the Council had not heard from the District Council, it was difficult to hold an informed opinion on potential opportunities. The meeting noted that councillors had been sent a large volume of information for consideration, with links to further sites so that they might undertake additional research to form a view on possibilities under LGR. The potential benefits of increasing the number of locally delivered services was acknowledged, but with recognition of the likely increased workload and the imperative that parishes must be able to hold any principal council(s)’ ‘feet to the fire’ with regards funding following devolution of functions.
It was proposed by the Chairman and seconded by Cllr Clayton that a working group is formed to explore possibilities under local government reorganisation and report back to the Town Council with observations and recommendations.
It was resolved that a working group is formed with Cllrs Mike Murphy, Peter Clayton, Phil Harvey, Rich Gardiner White, Helen Groves and Chris Allen.
95/20/TC To receive the SALC commissioned report on local government reorganisation and resolve whether to endorse the points advanced in the report.
The report was received & the meeting recognised the necessity raised for significant and genuine involvement of the parish sector in any LGR, and to learn the lessons from neighbouring LGRs. Members commented that it was well-written and resolved to endorse the points raised.
96/20/TC To review and adopt the updated ico Model Publication Scheme and to note that the Council’s new website is in the process of being updated with the required information
It was resolved to adopt the Publication Scheme.
97/20/TC To receive and approve the invitation to tender documentation for advertising in respect of Christmas lights
The meeting heard that the tender documentation had been amended to correct the tree locations and include more detail on existing infrastructure in Highbridge. It was clarified that suppliers who expressed interest are invited to propose a future scheme, that might or might not reflect previous lighting schemes.
It was resolved to approve the tender documentation and to proceed with inviting tender submissions for the provision of Christmas lights in both towns.
98/20/TC To receive the invitation to tender documentation in respect of the CIM funded seafront works and resolve that authority is delegated to the Town Improvements Committee to consider the tender submissions returned and to award a contract within the designated budget and in line with Financial Regulations.
The documentation was received, it was resolved to authorise the Town Improvements Committee to consider tender submissions and award a suitable contract.
99/20/TC To receive an update on the Council’s grant payments relating to Coronavirus community initiatives
The meeting noted the update to show the payments that had been made under the scheme.
100/20/TC To consider whether to take on the ownership of Railway Heritage noticeboards and approve the signing of legal agreements
The meeting heard that the Council has previously adopted a variety of railway assets provided by the Railway Heritage Group and that the legal agreement with Sedgemoor District Council follows the standard format used previously for the grant of a license.
It was resolved to take ownership of the four noticeboards and to authorise the Clerk sign the license agreements.
101/20/TC To note that the potential relocation of the Council office has been on temporary hold due to competing priorities associated with Coronavirus affecting both the Town Council and County Council
The meeting noted the situation.
102/20/TC The details of expenditure during March and April 2020 were received and approved
103/20/TC The Town Council Accounts for the months of March and April 2020 were received and approved
104/20/TC The meeting received a financial report showing that the level of general reserve is within the limits required under Proper Practices. Accounting changes and details of ear marked reserves were received and noted.
105/20/TC The Annual Internal Audit Report 2019/20, letter and observations were received and noted.
The meeting heard that the Princess refurbishment working group follows the requirements of the Local Government Act 1972 and although it can be renamed a sub-committee, it reports to the Princess Management Committee under the adopted Terms of Reference and not the Town Council.
106/20/TC It was noted that the quarterly sign off of the accounts including year-end has now taken place
107/20/TC The chairman read aloud the assertions in the Annual Governance Statement (s.1 of the Annual Return 2019/20).
It was resolved to approve the positive assertions to statements 1 to 8 (inclusive) and that assertion 9 is not applicable.
108/20/TC It was resolved to approve the Annual Accounting Statement for the year ending 31st March 2020 (s.2 of the Annual Return 2019/20).
109/20/TC Minutes of previous committee meetings:
It was noted that the minutes of the following committees had been circulated and received.
Finance & Resources Committee held on 27th April – Draft
Planning Committee held on 13th May – Draft
Town Improvements Committee held on 18th and 21st May – Draft
110/20/TC Items of correspondence were noted as received.
Dates of Next meetings
111/20/TC The dates were noted.
Monday 29th June Finance & Resources
Wednesday 1st July Burial
Wednesday 8th July Planning
Monday 13th July Town Improvements
Wednesday 29th July Planning
112/20/TC Date of Next meeting
It was noted that the next meeting of the Town Council will be held on Monday 3rd August 2020 at 7pm.
The Chairman closed the meeting at 20:35hrs.