Hassocks Parish Council



A meeting of Hassocks Parish Council is being held on Tuesday 12 December 2023 at 7.30 pm in the Council Chamber, Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.

Parish Clerk 5th December 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.



1.1. To accept Apologies for absence.


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 14th November 2023


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.


5.1.     Planning Committee – to note the minutes for the 27th November 2023

5.2.     Policy Resources & Communications- to note the minutes for meeting for the 28th November 2023.


6.1.      To approve the Financial Report and authorise the list of payments in the sum of £75,934.55 issued between 1 October 2023 and 31st October 2023. (Appendix 1) .  To view Appendix 1 please click here.


7.1.      West Sussex County Councillor

7.2.      Mid Sussex District Councillors Report

7.3.      Police Report

7.4.      Rail Matters

7.5.      Youth Initiatives

7.6.      Reports from Councillors on meetings outside bodies where the Council is



8.1.      Current matters (oral report)


9.1.      Budget Proposal 2023/24

BUDGET PROPOSAL 2024/25- The attached report set out in (Appendix 2) details the draft budget proposal for 2024/25. Policy Resources & Communications Committee considered the original report in detail on 28th November 2023 (PRC23/59) and made the following recommendations.  To view the Budget Proposal Report please Click here.  To view the Appendix A please click here.  To view Appendix B please click here.

PRC23/59 Members considered the proposed budget proposals and indicated that they would support delivering a ‘balanced budget’ and to do so would only require a modest increase of 23 pence for the year on a Band D equivalent property.

After careful consideration of the proposed budget requirements Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to Full Council to deliver a balanced budget which would provide a precept of £321,827.

With the increase in the property tax base for the year this would equate to an annual increase of 23 pence in the Parish Council Tax element for the year for a Band D equivalent property.

With the increase in property base over the last year delivering a ‘balanced’ budget would equate to a 0.27% increase in cost (£0.23 per annum) on Council tax paid on a band D equivalent property based on an estimated Property Tax base of 3,779 properties.

Since Policy Resources and Communications considered the original report we have been notified that our actual property base is in fact higher than the initial estimate.

Therefore the current property tax base is 3,782 (3 more than original estimate) therefore the precept calculation sheets within the Budget proposal report Appendix A and B have been amended to reflect this which has the effect of reducing the small increase further.

Based on this revision to achieve a ‘balanced budget’ would equate to 0.19% increase in cost (£0.16 per annum) on a Council Tax paid on a Band D property.

Member views are sought on this proposal.

9.2.      Banking online signatories. The Council is currently exploring the option to operate an on-line bank account run by Unity Trust Bank in addition to our existing bank accounts held at Barclays. Operationally it is becoming increasingly difficult to run our day to day banking efficiently via Barclays.

Members have previously considered and agreed in principle to look at alternative bank providers, it is therefore proposed to supplement our existing bank provider Barclays with an on-line provider (Unity Trust Bank) to operate our day to day account transactions to facilitate efficiencies in the way the council pays and contracts with its suppliers.

Unity Trust Bank specialises in providing banking services for Parish Councils and Charities which are customisable to enable dual authorisation of payments. We will therefore continue to retain the need for joint signatories (two authorised signatories) to authorise payments, however the difference being will be that this will be on-line (electronic authorisation), therefore reducing the need to obtain two ‘wet signatures’.

Unity Trust Bank is well established in the market and has a significant portfolio of Parish Council accounts nationally.

To facilitate the opening of this account the Council will need to nominate a number of signatories as the account will operate solely on-line, it is therefore important that any signatories are comfortable with using technology.

It is suggested that the Council consider having a pool of between four and six signatories for the on-line account. Each member nominated should ideally also have up to date security systems operating on their laptops/PC. Signatories will need to provide some limited personal information to the Clerk to enable the bank to undertake appropriate identity confirmation checks prior to enabling individuals to be set up as signatories.

Members are therefore requested to consider this proposal and nominate between four and six signatories for this account.

9.3.      Internal Audit Report – The attached report (Appendix 3) sets out the results of the recent interim audit, members are requested to note the contents of the report.  To view Appendix 3 please click here.

9.4.      Co-Option

This is to advise Members that in response to the recent Councillor Vacancy advertisement this attracted one interested applicant. The applicant meets the required qualification criteria to be considered to join the Council but unfortunately they were unable to attend this evenings meeting, therefore their co-option is proposed to be considered at the January Council meeting on the 9th January 2024.

10. URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.


To note that the date of the next Council meeting is Tuesday 9th January 2023


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.

12. Staff Matters (Appendix 4)


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.

Please Note

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


Draft Minutes of the meeting of the Parish Council held on 12th December 2023 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks

Attendees: Parish Councillors Frances Gaudencio (Chair), Sue Hatton, Bill Hatton, Carolyn Barton, Alex Simmons, David Bunting, Don McBeth, Robert Brewer,  Peter Richardson, Kate Bailey and Kristian Berggreen.

Visiting members: WSCC – Kirsty Lord

Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth


PC23/96       APOLOGIES   Cllr Ian Weir, Cllr Paul Shepherd and MSDC Councillor Chris Hobbs

Absent without apologies Cllr Angus Neil


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. – None

PC23/98       MINUTES

The minutes of the meeting held on the 14th November 2023 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.


No members of the public were present.

PC23/100     MINUTES

100.1     Members noted the minutes of the Planning Committee meeting on the 27th November 2023.

100.2     To note the minutes of Policy Resources & Communications Committee for the 28th November 2023.

PC23/101   FINANCE

101.1 Members considered the finance reports and the supporting bank statements and reviewed the following payment list for the period 1st October – 31st October 2023 and APPROVED in the sum of £75,934.55

PC23/102   Reports

102.1 County Councillors reports: – Cllr Lord updated members that the current arrangement between East Sussex CC and West Sussex CC where they shared a Chief Executive (Becky Shaw) was coming to an end. They are now returning to East Sussex CC after having a stabilising impact on WSCC who are now actively seeking to appoint a new Chief Executive.

Budget – There is currently a £4.4M gap to be closed for next year’s budget with a projected gap of £20M for 25/26. The biggest challenges remain Adult and Children Social care budgets.

Recycling – WSCC are proposing to introduce the booking system at all county recycling centres therefore this will now include Burgess Hill and East Grinstead and will come into effect shortly.

Education – Woodlands Mead school has not yet transferred over and no confirmed handover date is known at this time. A number of snagging issues are yet to be resolved.

Local issues – Water leak at the end of Keymer Road/Station Approach has been raised and escalated to try and resolve.

London Road – gulley by garage/soakaway is discharging water on the road further investigative work is required to establish the source.

Lodge Lane drains have recently been cleared a surface water is flowing away better.

Mackie Avenue – KL to meet with local residents re some localised flooding issues – KL will feed back to the Council at a future point.

Dale Avenue – some kerbstone repairs have recently been undertaken.

Highways – KL continues in discussion with highways office regarding 20mph speed limits and will feedback to the Council in due course.

A number of issues have arisen with regard to the state of Ockley Lane in respect of potholes etc. which have been scheduled for repair. It was confirmed that sections of Ockley Lane are programmed for resurfacing in the next financial year. KL reaffirmed that all pot hole issues should be reported on-line to WSCC in the first instance.

Ockley Lane speed limit application is in now and details will be sent into the parish office, it’s hopeful that these changes can be achieved in the next 12 months.

KL indicated she would be in contact with the Parish Office in the New Year with regard to progressing the Friars Oak speed limit scheme.

Clayton – no objections have been received regarding this scheme therefore it’s proposed to progress the pedestrian improvements.

A discussion between members focussed on the condition of Ockley Lane and that vehicles attending the development site on the Burgess Hill boundary may be approaching the site via Keymer Road. Cllr Berggreen agreed to establish from MSDC as to whether this is the approved route to the site.

102.2      District Councillor Report Cllr Chris Hobbs was not present at the meeting but provided a report to Cllr Sue Hatton to read out on his behalf.

Green spaces contract – the good news is that on Friday 1st December at 11.59pm the call in period closed for the 2nd award of the green spaces contract. As such on Saturday morning the new contractor, Glendale, was officially confirmed and will start now their extremely ramped-up schedule. They have already secured a depot in Plumpton, and their intention is to commence work from January on the most pressing elements of the contract.

The Councils District Plan has passed through the Scrutiny Committee and on Wednesday will go before full Council for adoption and regulation 19 stage. The next stage will be public consultation on behalf of the inspector, then an inspection at some point across the summer of 2024.The good news is that the existing plan has of course been ‘tested’ by way of a failed planning appeal at Albourne, the result being that the Councils housing supply figures have been ratified as sound. Of course, that won’t stop other speculative development and the district has now received an application for 1,450 houses in Ansty on a site not designated in either the current or new plan.

The budget process has been in train for a while now and the new budget will be published prior to scrutiny and then hopefully adoption in February, this week. The big challenge for a district council is the 2.99% cap on Council tax we can raise before referendum; Mid Sussex has one of the lowest council taxes in West Sussex and like all councils, costs have risen substantially more than 2.99%. MSDC are not proposing an increase greater than 2.99%.

You may have seen that the government has announced the roll-out of weekly food waste collection across the country by March 2026.Final consultation with districts and boroughs was completed in November and we await the finer details of Governments proposals. Mid Sussex has been a testbed for a 3,000 house trial that has proven the implementation of weekly food waste, 2 weekly blue bin and 3 weekly residual waste collections is the way ahead; this is the solution we continue to push to the government. We have budgeted for the further roll-out to another 2,000 houses during 2024 and, once the financial support package from the government is revealed, a scale up during 2025, working with WSCC, will be planned.’

102.3       Police Report – nothing to report

102.4       Rail Matters – nothing to report

102.5      Youth Initiatives – nothing to report

102.6      Report from Councillors on meetings of outside bodies where the Council is represented – Cllr Richardson reported that he recently attended the Downlands School Sports Hall Committee and updated members of the challenges they are currently facing. The all-weather pitch facility continues to be popular although they have had some recent issues with drainage.

Cllr Barton informed Members that she recently attended a Local Plan Review Workshop (SDNP) which was extremely interesting focusing on Planning and Neighbourhood Plans and the implication of the new Levelling up legislation. Various slides produced to support the presentations will be sent out to the Parish Clerks. It was suggested that these materials be shared with all Councillors. The Clerk to circulate these once received.

PC23/103  CHAIRMANS REPORT – nothing to report


104.1      Budget Proposal

The Clerk introduced the budget paper set out in Appendix 2 which detailed the projected out turn for this financial year and a budget proposal for consideration for 2024/25. Policy Resources & Communications Committee had considered the proposal at its meeting on the 28th November 2023 and recommended to Council that they consider delivering a balanced budget.

Member’s attention was drawn to page 2 of the paper which summarised the considerations taken into account when producing the proposed budget.

Within the report on pages 4 and 5 this set out a summary of Income & Expenditure for 2023/24 (projected out turn) and a proposed budget for 2024/25.

The Clerk indicated that as part of the budget setting process some narrative had been provided on some of the key variances in the budget (23/24) page 6 and potential options/initiatives for consideration for 2024/25.

This paper set out the impact of both revenue expenditure (day to day expenditure) and reserves used to support the Councils priorities.

The report provided an illustration for members if the council chose not to change the current level of precept it would return a deficit budget of £9,525 for 2024/25. (page7)

Members were advised that since the Policy Resources & Communications Committee the Council had been notified that the Parishes property base was in fact higher than the original estimate provided, therefore this has the effect of spreading the cost of the tax liability across a wider number of properties.

If members were minded to accept this option of a deficit budget due to the increase in the property base (increased by 105 properties) this would result in a decrease in payment for a band D equivalent property from £84.93 to £82.58 which is equivalent to a reduction of (£2.35) for the year.

If the Council chose to deliver a balance in line with Policy Resources & Communications suggested recommendation – taking into consideration the increase in properties the precept for a band D property for the year would be £85.09 which would equate to  an increase of 16 pence for the year for a band D equivalent property.(page 3).

Members attention was also drawn to the third option, that if they wished to raise additional funds via the precept to support future priorities, for every extra £1,000 raised via precept it would cost a band D property an additional 26 pence for the year.

To provide an illustration of the impact on precept across all bands members were requested to view. Appendix A (page 11) which illustrated the impact on all council tax payment bands if members were minded to retain the current precept level and not apply an increase & return a deficit budget.


Appendix B (page 12) which provided an illustration of the impact on the precept across the bands to deliver a balanced budget.

Members were advised that a recent proposal supported by the Grounds & Environment Committee further funds had been allocated within Earmarked Reserves (page 9) which had been achieved without impacting on the precept.

Members were also advised that the budget out turn for 23/24 and the proposed budget for 24/25 incorporates the salary uplifts proposed by the staffing panel and supported by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee which were to be considered later on in the agenda.

The Clerk indicated he did not propose to go through each Income/Expenditure line by line, but would be happy to take any questions members may have on some of the proposals.

Member’s views are sought.

Members discussed various options in detail and focussed particularly on the options of either delivering a balanced budget in line with the suggested recommendation from Policy Resources & Communications or to raise further funds via the precept to support the Councils priorities. Members acknowledged the need to refresh the current priorities within the Business Plan to ensure that funds are focused on being allocated to specific projects, however the consensus amongst members was that in light of the relatively small uplift required it would be prudent to raise some additional precept to support ongoing priorities. Members also noted that the Council had not raised the Precept in the last two years and any proposal would likely to be below inflation.

The budget paper indicated that for every extra £1,000 precept raised it would cost a Band D equivalent property an extra 26 pence for the year.

Members considered various options and debated these at length with the general consensus being that in light of the relatively small financial impact on the charge payer it was proposed that the Council should consider an overall uplift of the Council Tax by £19,525 which would deliver a balanced budget and a further £10,000 to be allocated to reserves to support the Council priorities such as the drainage scheme for the park.

104.1.1     Members were therefore invited to vote on a proposed precept of £331,827. After careful consideration by a majority, Members RESOLVED to APPROVE a precept in the sum of £331,827 which equates to the precept for a band D property of £87.81 for the year.

This would represent a £2.88 pence increase on the current year equivalent to 6 pence increase per week.

104.2       Banking – online account

The Clerk introduced the report setting out the proposal to set up an on-line bank account with Unity Trust bank which specialises in accounts for Parish Councils and Charities which will continue to facilitate the dual authorisation of transactions.

Members were advised that it was becoming more and more difficult to operate Barclays as the Councils main day to day account. Concerns generally have been raised nationally by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) with all high street providers about the level of service being provided to the parish sector however the intention was still to retain some accounts at Barclays.

The Clerk indicated that if the Council wished to pursue this approach the Council would need to nominate a number of signatories preferably between four and six.

Authorisation will be on-line and no wet signature will be required.

The Clerk advised that a pre-requisite of anyone nominated would be that they would be readily contactable to enable payments to be processed.

Member’s views are sought.

Members were fully supportive of the proposal therefore:

104.2.1 Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the proposal to move over to operating an on-line account for the day to day Council business with a provider such as Unity Trust Bank.

The Clerk then sought nominations from Members prepared to be considered as signatories for the account, ideally the Council should seek four to six representatives.

The following Members indicated they would be prepared to act as signatories on the account:

Cllr(s) Ian Weir (previously notified to the Clerk), Alex Simmons, Don McBeth, Bill Hatton, David Bunting and Carolyn Barton.

104.2.2 Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the following signatories for the on-line account: Cllr(s) Ian Weir, Alex Simmons, Don McBeth, Bill Hatton, David Bunting and Carolyn Barton.

The Clerk undertook to progress the account set up post-Christmas.

104.3     Internal Audit Report

The Clerk drew Members attention to the Interim Internal Audit report set out as Appendix 3 which detailed the outcome of a recent visit where they raised two minor audit points which were set out on page 29. (Low risk). The auditor will return later in the year to complete the year-end audit.

104.3.1   Member’s NOTED the content of the report.

104.4     Co-option

Members were advised that they will have the opportunity to consider a co-option onto the Council at its January meeting.

PC23/105   URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – members were asked to note the following. Items.

  1. Cllr Gaudencio indicated that she would like the Council to discuss the new post office arrangements within Morrison’s at the next meeting.
  2. Cllr Gaudencio passed on a message from the Chair (Cllr Weir) who expressed his thanks for all the hard work and support of the Councillors and staff throughout the year.
  3. The Clerk informed Members that the Council had received correspondence from HCO thanking the Parish Council for its support of the recent ‘Light up Hassocks’ event which by all accounts was a big success.
  4. The Clerk informed Members that the office currently had no phones or internet currently due to BT failing to transfer the Council over to the digital network successfully. As a result there could be a delay until normal service is resumed, Members were advised that the Council had escalated complaints through the BT formal channels. At present the office is reliant on using mobile hotspots which is not ideal, therefore there may be some delays before the office is able to respond to members emails.


To note that the date of the next Parish Council meeting is Tuesday 9th January 2024 at 7.30pm.