Agenda 11th May 2016

Highwood Parish Council 

66 Victoria Road, Writtle, Chelmsford CM1 3PA 

2 May 2016

 

To:      MEMBERS OF HIGHWOOD PARISH COUNCIL

 

You are hereby summoned to attend the annual meeting of Highwood Parish Council to be held at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 11 May 2016 in the Village Hall, Loves Green, Highwood, to transact the business shown in the agenda.

 

Please note the Annual Parish Assembly will be held prior to the Council meeting, at 7.00 pm.

 

The press and public are welcome to be present.

Louise R Fuller

Clerk 

 

A G E N D A

 

1

ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN

 

To ELECT the Chairman of   the Council for the year 2016/17.

The Chairman will then execute   the Declaration of Acceptance of Office as Chairman.

 

 

2

APPOINTMENT OF VICE CHAIRMAN

 

To APPOINT the Vice   Chairman of the Council for the year 2016/17.

 

 

3

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

 

To RECEIVE any apologies   for absence.

 

 

4

CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES

 

 

To APPROVE the minutes of   the meeting of the parish council held on 9 March 2016 as a correct record.

 

 

5

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

 

5.1

Councillors to DECLARE   any disclosable or other pecuniary interest or other interest in any items on   the agenda, in accordance with the adopted Code of Conduct.

Pecuniary or other interests   should be declared at this time, or at any point in the meeting where they   become apparent.

Councillors must inform the   Monitoring Officer of Chelmsford City Council, via the Clerk, within 28 days   of becoming aware of any change in their pecuniary or other interests. Members are reminded to check that the   information contained on their Register of Interests forms remains   up-to-date.

 

 

5.2

DISPENSATIONS

To CONSIDER any requests   for dispensation from the provisions of S31(4) of the Localism Act 2011.

 

S31(4)   states that a member may not participate in any discussion or vote upon a   matter, at the meeting, in which he/she has a disclosable pecuniary interest.

 

Requests for dispensation must   be made in writing to the Clerk.

 

 

6

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

 

To RECEIVE questions from   members of the public.

 

In   accordance with the agreed procedure public questions will be taken and shall   be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes or such other period as may be   determined by the Chairman of the meeting.

 

 

7

REPORTS

To RECEIVE brief reports on the following matters.

 

Chelmsford   City Council

City Cllr N   Chambers

 

Essex County   Council

Cty Cllr J   Aldridge

 

Play park,   Edney Common

Play park is   currently closed.

 

Village Hall

Cllr C Sargent

 

Public Rights   of Way

M Martin; see   attached report

 

 

8

REPORT OF THE CLERK

 

To RECEIVE the report of the clerk.

 

1

Annual Parish Assembly

The   statutory agenda was placed in noticeboards and on the website, along with a   small poster which included more information about the nature and purpose of   the meeting. An advertisement was also   placed in the May parish magazine.

 

2

Society of Local Council Clerks Essex   Branch Training Day

I attended   this in March 2016, and heard some very interesting and useful presentations   on topics including insurance, tree management and responsibilities, and new accounts   regulations. I also took the   opportunity to ask Essex colleagues about play equipment companies they had   used.

 

3

Annual Audit

New   Accounts and Audit Regulations have been introduced. The changes include a requirement for the   council to consider the Annual Governance Statement prior to agreeing the   Accounting Statements (rather than the other way round as previously), revised   wording of some of the assertions in the Governance Statement, a difference   in the provision of public rights in respect of the accounts, and a   requirement to publish on the council’s website. New Guidance to the Regulations has also   been issued. Taking these new   provisions on board and complying with them has been quite a task.

 

4

 

Internal Audit

Mrs   Powell-Davies has agreed to continue as the council’s internal auditor for   2015/16. She has submitted a formal   letter of engagement which has been circulated to councillors; a copy   indicating acceptance has been signed and returned to her. Her fee has increased slightly to £160.

 

5

HMRC annual returns for PAYE and VAT

These have   been successfully submitted before the statutory deadline. As the council has collected more in VAT   than it has paid out, £228.17 was due to HMRC and will be paid by direct   debit on 3 June 2016.

Payroll for   the new tax year has been started.

 

6

Community Agent

Highwood’s   Community Agent is now Sally Austin.

 

7

Elections for Police and Crime   Commissioner

Official   posters for these elections received from CCC have been posted on the   Sparrows Close noticeboard.

 

8

 

Tree Warden

CCC runs a   scheme of tree wardens in the parishes.   Some information has been circulated to councillors. Currently Highwood has no tree warden and   the council is asked if it would like to consider appointing one.

 

 

 

9

FINANCE

 

9.1

 

Accounts for   payment

To APPROVE the accounts   for payment (list will be available at the meeting).

 

 

9.2

To NOTE the account   balances as at 30 April 2016.

 

 

9.3

 

To REVIEW the council’s   risk assessment and management document.   A copy has been circulated to councillors.

 

 

9.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Return 2015/16

The Annual Return comprises the   council’s accounts for 2015/16. A copy   of the blank form has been circulated and also Section 2, completed. Section 4 has not yet been returned by the   Internal Auditor but should be available in time for the meeting.

 

With the new Regulations, the   order of procedure has changed.

1          To consider the   report of the Internal Auditor

            The report of the   internal auditor will be circulated to councillors and the council is asked   to CONSIDER   it and any recommendations made.

 

2          Annual Governance Statement

            The council is   required to have a sound system of internal control which

            i           facilitates   the effective exercise of its functions and the achievement of its aims and   objectives

            ii           ensures   that the financial and operational management of the authority is effective

            iii          includes effective arrangements for the management of   risk;

and it is required to review the effectiveness of its   system of internal control prior to answering the questions asked in Section   1 of the Annual Return, the Annual Governance Statement. Considering the questions asked in the   Annual Governance Statement constitutes a review of the system of internal   control.

 

The council is asked to CONSIDER   the questions asked in section 1 of the Annual Return, the Annual Governance   Statement, and DECIDE its answers.

For information, in respect of   qu.4, electors’ rights, the clerk can confirm this has been complied with.

 

3          Accounting Statements

            The council is asked to AGREE Section 2 for   submission to the external auditor, PKF Littlejohn.

 

4          Internal audit

            Section 4 is a   summary of the report of the internal auditor, to NOTE (report to follow).

 

5          Additional   information

            As the Annual   Return is very basic, additional information which is more useful to the   council has also been circulated. This   comprises a summary Receipts and Payments account comparing 2014/15 with   2015/16 and including the budget for 2015/16, and explanatory notes.

 

 

9.5

 

Bank Charges

Unity Trust Bank has notified   the council that it will be applying charges to the account from June 2016,   and these will amount to £6 per month.

A number of councils bank with   Unity Trust and there has been quite a lot of discussion on the forum about   the introduction of charges. Whilst   most are not happy, there seems to be a general view that most banks are   likely to start introducing charges sooner or later. Most other banks are not well set up to   accommodate councils’ requirements, and changing to another bank would be a   big upheaval; the clerk’s experience of opening new accounts and dealing with   banks in general in various capacities has not been happy.

The council is asked to CONFIRM   it is content to remain with Unity Trust and accept the charges.

 

9.6

 

Review and renewal of council’s insurance

The invitation to renew the   council’s insurance with Zurich has been forwarded to councillors for   information. This is the second year   of the council’s three-year long term agreement which will expire on 31 May   2018. The cost of renewal is £244.88   including insurance premium tax.

 

For information, a simple   summary of the council’s cover is as below; please refer to the documents   circulated for full details:

Public Liability                         £12,000,000 Limit of   Indemnity

Employer’s Liability                 £10,000,000 Limit of Indemnity

Libel and Slander                    £250,000 Limit of Indemnity

Money                                     Non-negotiable money £250,000

                                                Other Money – see   policy

Fidelity Guarantee                  £250,000 Limit of Indemnity

Legal Expenses                      £100,000 Limit of   Indemnity

Personal Accident                   Capital Benefits £50,000

                                                Temporary Total   Disablement £200pw

 

The council’s property is not   insured for damage, theft etc. The   question of insuring the garages is still not resolved.

 

 

9.7

Cheque signatories

To confirm cheque   signatories/on-line banking authorisations for 2016/17; currently Cllrs.   Cameron, Latham, Horsnell and Sargent.

 

 

10

HIGHWAY MATTERS   REPORTED BY COUNCILLORS AND CLERK

1          Speeding Traffic   (standing item)

2          Speed reduction in Edney Common and Loves Green

            According to the   minutes of the March meeting of the Local Highways Panel, detailed design of   these two schemes is on a list of schemes to be given priority.

 

 

11

PLAY AREA, REAR OF VILLAGE HALL  

 

11.1

NEW EQUIPMENT

See report below.

 

11.2

PROPOSAL BY Cllrs LATHAM and SARGENT; to discuss and agree next steps

Cllr Sargent emailed a proposal to councillors a while   ago. For ease of reference, his email   is in a separate report below.

 

 

12

VALUATION AND SALE OF THE GARAGES (Cllr LATHAM)

To discuss the valuation and sale of the garages.

 

 

13

 

COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE

To RECEIVE such   communications and correspondence as the Clerk may place before the Council.

 

 

14

DISTRIBUTION BAG

None.

 

 

15

 

DOCUMENTS ON DEPOSIT

To RECEIVE notice of the   following documents received by or deposited with the Clerk.

None.

 

 

16

PLANNING APPLICATIONS

 

a)

To NOTE the parish council’s comments   made on planning applications between meetings.

 

 

App. no.

16/00489/CLEUD

 

 

Location

Oak Lodge,   Loves Green

 

 

Description of works

Constructed   new pitched roof building behind previous approved garage to form new games   room, incorporating changing area and toilet facilities for use in conjunction   with new outdoor swimming pool.

 

 

Comment

No comment as the parish council’s locus in CLEUD   applications is unclear.

 

 

 

 

 

b)

To CONSIDER the following planning application.

None.

 

 

 

 

 

c)

To CONSIDER any other planning applications received since   the agenda was prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

d)

DECISIONS BY CHELMSFORD CITY COUNCIL

To NOTE the following planning decisions by Chelmsford   City Council.

 

 

 

GRANTED

 

 

 

App. no.

16/00038/FUL

 

 

Location

Site At Briggs   Cottage Cock Lane

 

 

Proposal

Demolition of   garage and construction of new dwelling and detached garage in the grounds of   Briggs Farm Cottage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFUSED

 

 

 

App. no.

16/00306/FUL

 

 

Location

Oak Lodge,   Loves Green

 

 

Proposal

Change of use   of land for the storage of vans for sale

 

 

 

 

 

e)

 

 

PLANNING CORRESPONDENCE

i           To NOTE   any planning correspondence received and respond to             consultations as appropriate.

None.

 

 

 

 

17

OTHER URGENT BUSINESS – for information only

To NOTE any matter of an   urgent nature which a Member or the Clerk may wish to draw to the attention   of the Council, and/or request to be included on the agenda for the next   meeting of the Council.

 

Note:   no decisions may be taken during this item as the required statutory notice   of the business will not have been given.

 

 

18

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

7.30 p.m. Wednesday 13 July 2016

 

 

19

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

To RESOLVE to   exclude the press and public from the following item under the Public Bodies   (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 as it contains confidential information   relating to employment matters.

 

 

20

CLERK’S EXTRA HOURS

A report has been circulated to councillors.

               

 

 

Council Meeting

 

11 May 2016

 

Agenda item 11

 

New play area, rear of village hall

 

11.1     New Equipment

Before the last Council meeting, Playdale presented a proposal for a scheme on the grass area at the rear of the village hall, incorporating a mix of children’s play equipment and adult fitness equipment. Cllr Latham had met the company on site and requested a quote.

 

The council’s Financial Regulations state:

  1. CONTRACTS

        Where it is intended to enter a new contract for the supply of goods or materials, or for the execution of works or specialist services exceeding the value of £10,000 the Clerk shall invite tenders from at least three firms.

a)    Such invitation to tender shall state the general nature of the intended contract. The invitation shall in addition state that tenders must be addressed to the Clerk and the last date by which such tenders should reach the Clerk.

b)    If less than three tenders are received for contracts above the value of £10,000 or if all tenders are identical, the Council may make such arrangements as it thinks fit for procuring the goods or materials or executing the works.

c)    The Council shall not be obliged to accept the lowest or any tender.

 

It is therefore clear that it would be necessary to obtain more than one price. The formal process of tendering has not been strictly followed in this case but it has been more a matter of seeing play companies and asking for quotations. The clerk has approached several companies, finding them both from a list used by CCC and from other local clerks’ recommendations. She has also had a useful correspondence with CCC play officers.

 

CCC supplied a number of documents including an example of the brief they give when seeking prices for play equipment which provides useful food for thought, although also means decisions about what is required have to be made in advance, which has not happened in this case. CCC can also offer a service where they work with parish councils to manage the project; the PC sets the budget and makes the decisions but CCC helps with any consultation required e.g. with the local school, and does the ordering, public sector compliance, supervision etc.

 

It has been quite difficult to organise obtaining the quotes, firstly because the companies all seemed to have been busy or unavailable since mid-March, over the Easter holidays and since then, so site meetings were difficult to arrange, and secondly, because the council had not set down any specification for what it wanted other than to say “a mix of children’s and adult equipment”, it was difficult to tell the representatives the basis on which to supply a quote so they were on a “like for like” basis. The range of equipment available is huge and the choices are legion.

 

The council had not said how it wanted to split the equipment between the children’s and adult equipment, so I suggested to the companies that the budget be spent about 2/3 – 1/3 on children/adults.

 

The question of surfacing is also quite problematic; some of the equipment requires safety surfacing, and the choice ranges from grass matting which is less expensive but wears less well and is inclined to move around, through a material called “eco” which seems to be quite good value, to wet pour, which is the most durable and effective but also most expensive. When the representatives asked what sort of surfacing the council wanted, there was no clear answer.

 

Equipment can be made of timber or steel and this was another question to answer; timber is quite nice in a rural setting and can be cheaper but it is not so durable as steel. In the end I mostly asked for steel products.

 

The one constant I decided to use was to tell them all that the budget was £25,000 as this was what Cllr Latham had told Playdale. It is roughly the amount the council holds as S106 money plus some in earmarked reserves for the new play area.

 

The companies I approached were

Monster-Caloo

Sovereign

HAAGS- SMP

Wicksteeds

 

The quotes which have been forwarded from the companies, and those which are yet to come, are all flexible. The council can make substitutions, suggest changes etc.

 

I have hard copies of the catalogues for the companies which have quoted.

 

The council is asked to CONSIDER the quotes and decide how it wishes to proceed.

 

11.2     Proposal by Cllrs Latham and Sargent

Email from Cllr Sargent:

 

“As we all know the Village Hall car park can be easily filled up by 15+ cars, therefore in order that the field can be used to its maximum potential we propose the following;

 

Position proposed play area further down the field to allow for hardstanding overflow and play area parking.

 

Summarised as below:

  • Removal of hawthorn trees and concrete posts along      current border between car park and field.
  • Retain mature trees if possible or remove if not      practical to keep (assuming no TPO).
  • Extend overflow car parking from current car park      border out as far as large tree (approx 45ft).
  • Extend parking area towards and unto the concrete      track.
  • Hard foundation added with type 1 scalping with pea      shingle to surface (asphalt would require moving all trees and 4 x cost).
  • Hedge and ditch tidy up on LHS. Removal of dead/loose branches and      cutting left by power company).
  • Old fence on LHS removed.
  • Field to be fenced with square post and rail all      sides along new overflow carpark boundary from hedge to concrete track.
  • Fence to be added between overflow parking (approx      10 cars) and play area parking (approx 4 cars).

 

Please see attached amateur drawing showing possible overflow carpark.

 

I have already obtained a quote from J Oddy. This came in at £1,800 + VAT (includes discount) for all fencing and gates. Excludes labour. Estimate labour to be 4 days at £300/day.

 

As requested by the VHC I have requested indicative quotes for surfacing the existing carpark in asphalt and also pea shingle. In addition I have requested a separate quote for the overflow car park area in type 1 scalpings and pea shingle only. Estimates will be provided by Marlborough Surfacing in due course.”