A meeting of Hassocks Parish Council will be held on Tuesday 10 January 2023 at 7.30 pm in the Council Chamber, Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Parish Clerk 4th January 2023
Members of the public are encouraged to come to the meetings and there is an opportunity for them to address the Council relating to the non-confidential items on the published agenda. A period of 15 minutes will be set aside in item 4 Public participation.
To accept Apologies for absence
2. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
2.1 To deal with any disclosure by Members of any disclosable pecuniary interests and interests other than pecuniary interests, as defined under Hassocks Parish Council’s Code of Conduct and the Localism Act 2011, in relation to matters on the agenda.
3.1. To accept the minutes of the
Parish Council meeting 8th November 2022
4. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Up to fifteen minutes will be available to allow for the public to make representations, answer questions or give evidence in respect of any items of business included in the agenda, in accordance with Standing Orders.
5. TO ACCEPT THE FOLLOWING MINUTES
5.1 Planning Committee – to agree the minutes for the 14th November 2022 and the minutes for the 5th December 2022
5.2 Policy Resources & Communications- to note the minutes for meeting for the 29th November 2022.
5.3 Grounds & Environment Committee – to note the minutes for the meeting 7th December 2022.
5.4 Neighbourhood Plan Committee – to note the minutes for the meeting 15th December 2022
6.1 To approve the Financial Report and authorise the list of payments in the sum of £26,037.67 issued between 1 October 2022 and 31st October 2022. Please click here to view Appendix 1.
6.2 Members raised a query at the last Council meeting in respect of a finance report for (September) regarding a transaction for £1,026.00 described as ‘roundabout repair’ which the clerk undertook to clarify. The sum in question related to the repair to the wet pour (safety surface) surrounding the roundabout as opposed to a repair to the roundabout.
6.3 To approve the Financial Report and authorise the list of payments in the sum of £30,175.16 issued between 1st November 2022 and 30th November 2022. Please click here to view Appendix 2.
6.4 Twinning Presentation (Twinning Association) providing an overview of the proposed event programme for this year and potential funding needs.
7.1. West Sussex County Councillor
7.2. Mid Sussex District Councillors Report
7.3 Police Report
7.4. Rail Matters – oral Report (Leslie Campbell)
7.5. Youth Initiatives – (Frances Gaudencio)
7.6. Reports from Councillors on meetings outside bodies where the Council Is represented.
8. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT
8.1 Current matters (oral report)
9. CLERK’S REPORT
9.1 Budget Proposal 2023/24
BUDGET PROPOSAL 2023/24- The attached report set out in Appendix 3 (to view Appendix 3 please click here) details the draft budget proposal for 2023/24. To view Appendix A please click here.
Policy Resources & Communications Committee considered the original report in detail on 29th November 2022 (PRC22/19) and made the following recommendations
|PRC22/19.1 After careful consideration of the proposed budget requirements Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to full Council not to increase the Precept but to retain at the current level of £312,302.
PRC22/19.2 Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND the proposed additional allocations within the report from General Reserves prior to the year end to Earmarked Reserves to support the Councils ongoing priorities.
PRC22/19.3 Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND the following additional amendments to the initial proposal for Council to consider:
i) To allocate an additional sum of up to £10,000 from general reserves to earmarked reserves in respect of the Burial Ground Path.
ii) To allocate a £4,000 provision within the revenue budget towards the Twinning anniversary event (23/24) subject to members agreeing the final level of any contribution post presentation from the Twinning association.
The Clerk confirmed that neither of these amendments would impact on the level of precept but would reduce the surplus budget sum to £11,135, therefore members requested that the Clerk reflect these proposed amendments in the report to be taken forward to Council for consideration.
The budget has been reviewed and adjusted to reflect Policy Resources & Communications Committees comments. Members are therefore requested to consider the contents of the report and determine the level of budget/precept to be set for 2023/24. Based on the draft budget proposal this would deliver a small surplus of £11,135.
With the increase in property base over the last year this would equate to a 1.82% reduction (£1.57 per annum) on Council tax paid on a band D equivalent property based on an estimated Property Tax base of 3,679 properties. Member views are sought on this proposal
9.2 Internal Audit Report – The attached report (Appendix 4) sets out the results of the recent interim audit, members are requested to note the contents of the report. To view Appendix 4 please click here.
9.3 Grants letters of thanks – The purpose of this report is to advise members that following the grants agreed on 13th September 2022 additional emails/letters of thanks have now been received from the following organisations.
- Keymer & Hassocks Football Club
- Victim Support
9.4 IT Server – upgrade.
Members previously considered the initial item at its meeting on the 13th September 2022.
|PC22/75 Replacement Server
Members were informed that the Councils IT provider had advised the Council to consider replacing its current server which is six years old. The server is currently running Microsoft Server 2012 r2 operating system which will not be supported by Microsoft beyond October 2023.
They have indicated that they would recommend the Council considers replacing its current server sooner as they anticipate the cost will continue to increase and there maybe supply issues further down the line.
Members were requested to consider the release of £4,733.48 (net) from General reserves to fund the replacement which will include the supply of server, hard drives, licences, installation and transfer of data.
Member’s views were sought. A discussion took place amongst members which included exploring ‘Cloud’ options in more detail before committing to the proposal recommended by the Council’s IT support provider. It was AGREED that Cllr Simmons would liaise with the Clerk and provide some further technical information. Further discussions will then be held by the Clerk with the Councils IT provider to determine the most suitable solution to take forward and a report will be brought back to full council for consideration at a future time.
The Clerk subsequently approached the Councils IT provider who provided some indicative costings for the Council to move over to a Cloud server solution which indicated the cost would be significantly higher than the proposal to replace the existing server. Most of the cost attributed to a replacement server relates to the set up and transfer of data.
Our IT provider indicated that based on the Councils current set up they would suggest the Council retains its current arrangements.
Members are therefore requested to consider the original request to release funds from general reserves to fund the server, hard drives, licences, installation and transfer of data. It should be noted the costs have now increased to £4,802 (net)
9.5 Tree works – Adastra Park
GE22/66 Oak Tree – North Field. Grounds & Environment Members were informed that an Oak Tree bordering the North Field Car Park/Orchard Lane has been assessed as showing signs of die back with the major limb on the northern side appearing to be completely dead. This tree overhangs Orchard Lane and the Car Park and therefore potentially poses a safety risk to users of both areas. Rather than completely remove the tree, it has been advised that a heavy reduction/monolith could be carried out leaving the tree about 20ft high whilst trying to retain healthy growth.
|GE22/66.1 It was RESOLVED to APPROVE a heavy reduction/monolith to be carried out to the Oak Tree bordering the North Field Car Park at a cost of £1600.
GE22/66.2 It was RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to Full Council the release of up to £1600 for the safety work to be carried out the Oak Tree as described above
Council are requested to approve the release of additional funds from General reserves.
9.6 Adastra Hall Improvement options
At Councils meeting on the 8th November members considered a number of proposals (PC22/95) regarding the halls lease and building footprint, and made a number of recommendations set out below.
|PC22/95.2 Members were requested to consider the release of designated pieces of land within the park to support the proposal to increase the size of the ‘green room’ and the improvement of the toilet facilities and to redraw the lease to reflect the enlarged building footprint.
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the release of additional land within the park to facilitate the enlargement of the ‘green room’ and the toilet facilities and to redraw the lease to reflect the extended footprint.
PC22/95.3 Members were requested to consider entering into an extended lease of 21 years to facilitate the Associations ability to access funding.
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the extension of the lease to 21 years
PC22/95.4 Members were requested to consider entering into a new lease with the amended constituted association.
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the entering into a new lease with the Adastra Hall Community Association (CIO)
PC22/95.5 Members were requested to consider authorising the Clerk to appoint and instruct a suitable legal representative to enact these changes with the costs being met from the professional fees budget.
Members RESOLVED to AUTHORISE the Clerk to appoint a suitable legal representative to effect the agreed changes with the cost being met from the professional fees budget.
This is to advise members that the Clerk has instructed Wellers Hedley (part of the Wellers Law group) to act on behalf of the council to affect the above changes to the lease.
This practice specialise in parish council work and had previously drawn up the current lease for the hall therefore they have indicated that the proposed changes should be relatively straight forward to achieve. The cost of this service will be £800 (net) and will be met from the professional fees budget.
Members are requested to note the action taken
Adastra Hall Lease – Since the Council meeting on the 8th November the Hall have undertaken further research and it has been established that some grant bodies would require a lease in excess of 22 years therefore under the current recommendation this would limit the access to some grant funds. The Hall have written to the Council requesting that they consider extending the lease beyond the 21 year term to facilitate the access to further grant funds. The suggested term is 25 years. Subject to this amendment in term not prejudicing the Councils position members are requested to consider the request to consider the extension of lease term to 25 years.
Member’s views are sought.
9.7 Adastra Park Barrier. (GE22/65) Grounds & Environment Members (7/12) were informed that the current bollards at the entrance to the South Field, Adastra Park are beginning to wear out and therefore were invited to consider and approve a replacement. Members considered between the options of replacement bollards or the installation of a low defender gate in place of the current wooden gate and bollards.
|GEG GE22/65.1 Members RESOLVED that a low defender barrier gate should be installed at a cost of £4,785 plus VAT to cover the removal of the current wooden gate and the installation of a barrier (green paint) with £1,785 to be funded from the Adastra Park Repair and Renewals budget and the excess to be funded from General Reserves.
GE22/65.2 It was RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to Full Council the release of up to £3,000 from General Reserves to cover the excess cost of the purchase and installation of a low defender barrier gate
Members are therefore requested to consider releasing additional Funds from General reserves to fund the installation of the new defender gate.
10. Communication presentation (verbal update)
11. URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
12. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next Council meeting is Tuesday 14th February 2023
EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS
In view of the confidential nature of the business about to be transacted Councillors will be referred to the Confidential Agenda. If any members of the public or press are in attendance they will be requested to withdraw from the meeting in the public interest.
FILMING, RECORDING OF COUNCIL MEETINGS AND USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
During this meeting members of the public may film or record the Committee and officers from the public area only providing it does not disrupt the meeting. The Confidential section of the meeting may not be filmed or recorded. If a member of the public objects to being recorded, the person(s) filming must stop doing so until that member of the public has finished speaking. The use of social media is permitted but members of the public are requested to switch their mobile devices to silent for the duration of the meeting.
All members of the public are welcome to attend to attend meetings of the Parish Council and its Committees.
Item 4 – a period of 15 minutes will be set aside for the public statements and questions relating to the published non-confidential business of the Meeting.
It may be necessary to consider particular items in confidential session and where this arises, these items will be considered at the end of the agenda.
Minutes of the meeting of the Parish Council held on 10th January 2023
at 7.30pm in Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks
Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir, Jane Baker, Sue Hatton, Bill Hatton, Kristian Berggreen, Carolyn Barton, David Bunting , Claire Tester, , Robert Brewer and Dan Sewell
Visiting Member(s): – none
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
PC22/101 APOLOGIES Cllr Leslie Campbell, Alex Simmons, Frances Gaudencio, Angus Neil, Kate Bailey
PC22/102 DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
Disclosure by Councillors of personal interests in matters on the agenda, and whether the Councillor regards their interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct. –
Cllr S Hatton and Cllr Barton in relation to item 6.4 (Twinning) and 9.6 – Adastra Hall Improvement options.
Cllr B Hatton in relation to 6.4 (Twinning)
The above members did not vote on these disclosed items.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 8th November 2022 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
PC22/104 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No members of the public were present.
105.1 Members accepted the minutes of the Planning Committee meeting on the 14th November 2022 and the 5th December 2022
105.2 Members noted the minutes for the Policy Resources & Communications Committee for the 29th November 2022.
105.3 Members noted the minutes of the Grounds & Environment Committee for the 7th December 2022
105.4 Members noted the minutes of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee for the 15th December 2022
106.1 Members considered the finance reports and the supporting bank statements and reviewed the following payment lists.
The Finance report and payments totalling £26,037.67 (Appendix 1) for the period 1st October 2022 were considered and APPROVED.
106.2 Members noted the clarification of a payment in the sum of £1,026 reported at its meeting November.
106.3 The Finance report and payments totalling £30,175.16 (Appendix 2) for the period 1st November 2022 were considered and APPROVED.
106.4 Twinning Associations Presentation
Stephanie White and Amanda Felix provided a short presentation to members seeking to secure some funding to support the 30th Anniversary of the Twinning with Montmirail (France) and Wald- Michelbach (Germany).
Stephanie and Amanda set out a number of activities proposed to celebrate the event and were seeking to secure support from the Parish Council including some financial support. The presentation set out details of the proposed programme of events together with details of the expected number of attendees. Historically the Parish Council had supported previous twinning association events.
Stephanie and Amanda then took a number of questions from members and it was acknowledged that as a result of events not occurring in recent years due to the pandemic it will be necessary to build up /raise the profile of the association again.
Members thanked Stephanie and Amanda for the presentation and to agree to consider any funding allocation which would be considered as part of the budget setting report later on in this meeting.
To view the presentation for Hassocks Twinning Associations please click here.
Stephanie and Amanda left the meeting after the presentation.
107.1 County Councillors reports: – Cllr Kirsty Lord (KL) – no report submitted
107.2 District Councillor Report (Cllr Sue Hatton) advised members that a new application had been received for the Byanda site which does not appear to differ significantly from the previously refused application.
District Council have recently received a planning application for a new school within the Northern Arc.
District Plan – Regulation 18 Consultation has now closed and the Council is going through the responses received and will review and consider these in due course.
Burgess Hill roadworks are on-going in the town centre and impacting on traffic flows in the surrounding areas.
MSDC are currently considering their budget which is challenging, with the need to identify further savings, but its currently proposing a 2.75% increase in precept.
107.3 Police Report – none
107.4 Rail Matters – none
107.5 Youth Initiatives – nothing to report.
107.6 Report from Councillors on meetings of outside bodies where the Council is represented – Cllr B Hatton advised that he recent attended a meeting of the Downlands School Sports Hall Committee where they considered a report from Freedom Leisure (sports centre operator) on the challenges and impacts facing the industry in light of the high utility costs.
Cllr S Hatton recently attended the Adastra Hall Management Committee which is currently actively exploring grant funding opportunities and looking at ways to enable the hall to operate more efficiently and reducing operating costs.
PC22/108 CHAIRMANS REPORT – Nothing to report.
PC22/109 CLERK’S REPORT
109.1 Budget Proposal 2023/24
The Clerk introduced the paper set out in Appendix 3 which set out the proposed budget proposal for 2023/24 together with the projected outturn for the current financial year (2022/23)
Members were directed to page 2 of the proposal which set out the considerations taken into account in determining the proposed budget.
Members were then taken through the summary of income and expenditure on pages 4 and 5 of the report detailing the projected outturn and the proposed budget for 2023/24. As part of the budget setting process the Clerk indicated that he had attempted to provide some narrative on some of the key variances in the current budget (22/23) (page 6) and potential options/initiatives for consideration for 2023/24.
The initial draft budget had previously been considered by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee in November where members made a number of recommendations which have been incorporated into the current document. The report sets out the impact of both revenue expenditure and reserves used to support the council’s priorities.
The additional items raised by Policy Resources & Communications Committee are summarised in the agenda papers.
Members were advised that since drafting the proposed budget the Council had been notified that that the projected utility costs for the pavilion were to rise from £3,000 (fixed term coming to an end) to circa £18,000 pre government support. Members were advised that although the utility budget had been increased significantly to £6,500 this remained insufficient to cover the projected increased costs therefore efforts are being made to secure improved terms.
However, members were advised that if they were minded to support not increasing the precept the additional cost for the pavilion utility could be met from the increased utility budget and the projected surplus budget therefore delivering a near balanced budget.
With government support even though reduced this would enable the costs to be covered. i.e.: Current proposed surplus budget of £11,135 + utilities budget £6,500 = £17,635. Estimated utility cost £18,000 pre government support therefore the additional cost could be covered as part of the current proposal.
An illustration for members if the council chose not to change the current level of precept was set out and projected a surplus budget of £11,135 for 2023/24. (Page 7) subject to amendment in respect of the utility costs.
At this point members were invited to raise any questions queries on the summarised budget. Members raised a series of questions regarding some of the budget lines which the clerk responded to. Members were satisfied with the responses.
Members were advised that if they were minded to accept the proposal not to increase the precept due to the increase in the property base this would result in a decrease in payment for a band D equivalent property from £86.46 to £84.89 which is equivalent to a reduction of £1.57 council tax payment for the year in respect of the parish council element. This was due to an additional sixty-seven band D equivalent properties being built in the village which has increased the property base. (Page 3) The effect of this is that the Council precept is spread across more properties.
The Clerk drew member’s attention to Appendix A in the report (page 11) which provided an illustration of the impact on all council tax payment bands if members were minded to retain the current precept level and not apply an increase as per Policy Resources and Communications Committee recommendation.
Members indicated they were supportive in principle of not increasing the precept for 2023/24.
The Clerk advised members that the current level of unallocated reserves should be reviewed as a number of the Councils priorities remain underfunded therefore consideration should be given to allocating some of these funds to Earmarked Reserves prior to year-end to support the on-going priorities of the council including the park drainage scheme and the burial ground path network.
A proposal was considered and supported by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee (PRC22/19.1 & PRC22/19.2) which was set out for members to consider in section 6 (page 9) of the report. Members were advised that this could be achieved without impacting on the proposed precept.
The budget /precept proposal was set out on page 7 of the report and summarised the impact on the councils overall financial position, however, this would be subject to amendment in light of the increased utility cost: the small projected surplus budget would therefore be utilised to offset the increased utility costs.
Members were content with the proposal and acknowledge that the Council are likely to progress some of its projects in the forthcoming year.
Members were supportive of reallocating further General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves prior to the year end as recommended by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee.
The other additional recommendation regarding the allocation of funding to support the 30th Anniversary of the Twinning association was proposed by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee. The Councillors had received a presentation from the Twinning association representatives in an item earlier on in the agenda. Members debated and considered the proposal to provide funding to support this initiative and were supportive in principle to providing some funding.
Members were invited to consider the following proposals
109.1.1 Retaining the current level of Precept for the forthcoming financial year in the sum of £312,302.
Members RESOLVED to AGREE to retain the Precept at the current level of £312,302 for 2023/24 and therefore not applying any increase.
109.1.2 To consider allocating additional funds from General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves to support the Councils ongoing priorities prior to year-end and that the sums agreed are set out in the table on page 9 of the budget proposal report as recommended by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee.
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the transfer of additional funds from General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves prior to year-end as set out in table page 9 of the report to support the Councils on-going initiatives.
109.1.3 Members considered Policy Resources Communications recommendation to allocate up to £4,000 to support this year’s twinning event. To assist members in their deliberation the association had provided a presentation earlier in the agenda. After careful consideration Members RESOLVED to APPROVE and allocate a fund of up to £4,000 with the following conditions.
i) Up to a maximum of £4,000 will be granted on the basis that this would be match funded from the Associations own funds.
ii) Any unspent elements of the parishes contribution to be returned to the Council
iii) To provide a detailed report of the event for members setting out the details of events and how the Councils grant fund was expended.
109.1.4 Members RESOLVED that Chair of the Council attends the event to carry out any formal duties
Members indicated they wished to put on record their thanks to the Clerk for producing the budget.
109.2 Internal Audit Report
Members were requested to consider the contents of the Interim Internal Audit report and the work recently covered by the auditors and the outcome of the review. Members were advised that the council’s standing orders are currently being reviewed and will be considered by Policy Resources & Communications committee in due course. The report was duly NOTED.
Members were requested to note that the Council had received further correspondence of thanks for grant funding provided by the Council earlier in the year for the following organisations. NOTED
- Victim support and
- Keymer & Hassocks FC
109.4 IT Server – Upgrade
The Clerk informed Members that they had previously considered a report requesting release of additional funding to replace its server (PC22/75) however at the time members deferred decision to explore the option of using ‘cloud storage’ as an alternative. The Clerk approached the Councils IT support provider who administers the Councils IT infrastructure and requested they explore cloud options as an alternative approach to the initial proposal.
We have been advised by our IT provider that costs of cloud storage for the parish council would be significantly higher than that set out in the initial proposal to replace the server.
Members were therefore requested to release £4,802 from General Reserves to enable a replacement server and associated works to be acquired. Members were also asked to note that the cost of the server had increased marginally since the original report.
Having considered the advice from the councils IT provider in respect of the cost of a cloud solution Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the release of £4,802 (net) from General Reserves to fund a replacement server and associated works based on the initial proposal considered (PC22/75).
109.5 Tree Works – Adastra Park
Grounds & Environment Committee recently considered a report in December (GE22/66.1 and GE22/66.2) in relation to an oak tree located in the north field car park that has suffered from die back, possibly as a result of the drought conditions in the summer. The tree overhangs both Orchard lane and the car park therefore poses a potential safety risk. The Council has been advised that rather than removing the tree a heavy reduction should be undertaken leaving the tree approx. 20ft high whilst trying to retain the healthy growth.
The Grounds & Environment committee recommended the release of up to £1,600 from General reserves to fund these works therefore members are requested to release these funds to enable the works to be undertaken.
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the release of up to £1,600 from General Reserves to fund these works.
109.6 Adastra Hall Improvement options
Members were advised that the Council had appointed Wellers Hedley to act on the councils behalf to effect the required changes. They have previously acted on behalf of the Council when drawing up the most recent lease for the hall. The estimated fee will be £800 and will be funded via the professional fees budget.
Members requested to note the action taken. NOTED
Members were informed that since the initial decision to approve a new lease for a period of 21 years the hall committee have subsequently contacted the council indicating that some of the grant funds require a lease in excess of 21 years. Therefore to enable them to access these funds members are requested to consider agreeing to a lease extension of up to 25 years subject to the amendment not prejudicing the council’s position as opposed to a 21 year term.
Council were supportive of the proposal to a 25 year lease to support the halls ability to secure grant funding providing it did not prejudice the Councils position. On this basis Members APPROVED the proposed amendment of the term from 21 years to 25 years.
The Clerk undertook to advise our legal representative and confirm that this amendment would not prejudice the Councils position.
109.7 Adastra Park Barrier
Grounds & Environment Committee considered a report (GE22/65.1 and GE22/65.2) at its December meeting recommending the replacement of the current barriers in the south field.
Members considered a number of options and recommended the replacement of the current gate with a low barrier defender in the sum of £4,785 (net) to be funded in part from the Adastra Park Repairs and Renewals budget (£1,785) with the balance being met from an additional allocation of £3,000 from General reserves.
Members are requested to consider approving the release of funds from general reserves to facilitate this.
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the release of £3,000 from General Reserves with the balance being met from the Adastra Park Repair & Renewals Budget.
PC22/110 Communications update (verbal update) Members were advised that at a previous Policy Resources & Communications Committee meeting it had been agreed that Cllr Sewell would lead on a review on how the council currently communicates with the parishioners and whether there were opportunities to improve this to raise the profile of the parish council.
Cllr Sewell then provided a brief introduction on how he wished to progress this and proposed to meet Councillors individually to seek their views with the outcome being reported back at a future meeting. The Clerk undertook to provide contact details to facilitate these meetings being set up and it was confirmed they could be hosted within the Parish Centre if required. Members NOTED the proposal.
PC22/111 URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – none.
PC22/112 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next Parish Council meeting is Tuesday 14th February 2023 at 7.30pm.