Hassocks Parish Council


You are summoned to a virtual meeting of the Parish Council on 19th May 2020 at 2.30 pm

Parish Clerk 12th May 2020

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.

If you wish to attend, this virtual meeting please email the info@hassocks-pc.gov.uk before 16.00 hrs on 18 May to be sent an electronic invitation before 12.00 hrs on the 19 May.



1.1 To Accept Apologies for Absence.


2.1       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.


3.1       To accept the minutes of the:

Parish Council meeting 10th March 2020

Up to fifteen minutes will be available to allow for the public to make representations, answer questions or give evidence in respect of any item of business included in the agenda, in accordance with Standing Orders.


To accept the following Minutes

5.1       Planning Committee – to agree the minutes for 9th March 2020


6.1       To approve the Financial Report and authorise the list of payments in the sum of £20,858.64  for the period ending 28/2/2020 set out in (Appendix 1.) and the list of payments in the sum of £23,772.21 for the period ending 31/3/2020 (Appendix 2)


7.1       District Councillors’ Report

7.2       County Councillor Report

7.3       Rail Matters (oral report, Leslie Campbell)

7.4       Youth Initiatives (oral report Frances Gaudencio)

7.5       Police matters

7.6       Report from Councillors on meetings of outside bodies where the Council is represented.


8.1       Verbal update


9.1       To consider the provisions of the Local Authorities & Police Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority & Police & Crime Panel Meetings) Regulations 2020 and associated impact on:

Annual Meeting for electors
Annual Statutory meeting of the Council
Standing Committee meetings
Scheme of delegations where required.

9.2     Advice provided by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is that local councils cease holding physical meetings or gatherings at this time.

This includes Full Council, Committee meetings, Annual Parish meeting or Council meetings of electors, as the health and safety of staff, councillors and local communities remain paramount.

9.3     The original scheduled meetings for May were as follows

May Meeting
11th Planning                                                                              CANCELLED
12th Council                                                                                CANCELLED
19th Policy Resources & Communications                                 CANCELLED
28th Grounds & Environment Committee                                   CANCELLED
Future meeting frequencies for 2020/21 to be agreed

9.4    Attached as Appendix 3 sets out the original proposed schedule of meetings for consideration for 2020/21 which were drafted pre Covid 19 and reflected a move towards less frequent standing committee meetings where feasible. Members may wish to revisit this in light of the changed environment and determine whether the frequency should be revised further. It is proposed once Members have provided a clear steer on the frequency of meetings to reflect the current climate the programme of meetings can be finalised.

9.5    Annual Parish Meeting was initially scheduled to be held on 12th May 2020 – ‘The Local Government Act 1972 states that for every parish there shall be a Parish meeting for the purposes of discussing parish affairs….’

9.6    This meeting is normally required to be held between 1st March and 1st June. This is not a council meeting but a meeting of electors and in the current circumstances is probably not critical and there is no effective sanction should the Parish Council not set a date or time for this to occur.

9.7 There are three options available to the Parish Council:

Option 1: Cancel the Annual Parish Meeting for electors altogether for 2020.

Option 2: Postpone the Annual Parish Meeting for electors, and seek to hold a remote version of the meeting between now and June 2020 (please note this meeting is generally not well attended).

Option 3: Postpone the Annual Parish Meeting for electors and seek to arrange later in the year.

Member’s views are sought.

9.8     Annual Statutory meeting of the Council – initially scheduled for 12th May 2020. All local authorities run to a municipal year, which starts in May each year.

Local authorities are required to hold an Annual statutory meeting when the Council elects its Chair, Vice Chair and appoints members to the Councils committees and working groups. In addition it appoints representatives to outside bodies.

9.9     The Local Authorities & Police Crime Panels (Coronavirus)(Flexibility of Local Authority & Police & Crime Panel Meetings) Regulations 2020 came into force on 4th April 2020 which enables councils to hold remote meetings up until May 2021. They also remove the requirement to hold an Annual (statutory) meeting of the Council.

9.10     Regulation 4 (2) states ‘Where an appointment would otherwise be made or require to be made at an annual meeting of a local authority, such appointment continues until the next annual meeting of the authority or until such time as that authority may determine’.

This therefore allows the Parish Council with the flexibility to continue with existing arrangements until May 2021 if it so wishes.

At present the Councils current Standing Order 11 states ‘At each Annual Parish Council Meeting the first business shall be’:

a) To elect a Chair of the Council

b) To receive the Chairs declaration of acceptance of office …….

c)   To elect a Vice Chair of the Council

d)    To appoint committees and sub-committees

e)    To appoint representatives to outside bodies

9.11   With regard to Committee membership and appointments, members annually provide an   indication to the Clerk of their preferences. Therefore the annual process of appointing members to committees and outside bodies, does provide an opportunity for members to review their interests and commitments.

There are two options available to the Parish Council:

Option 1: Cancel the Annual Statutory meeting of the Council altogether and continue to run with the existing appointment of the Chair, Vice Chair as well as Committee membership and outside body representation:

Option 2: Hold the Statutory meeting of the Council but hold the meeting remotely.

Member’s views are sought.

9.12    Standing Committee Meetings – The regulations enable meetings to continue but with more flexibility.

Regulation 4 (1) Local Authorities have flexibility to hold meetings at a time, day and frequency to suit their own needs, without requirement of further notice.

This therefore permits authorities to make changes to their meeting arrangements, however if a meeting is called, the same timeframe for the publication of reports is required: 3 working days is required for notification (agenda publication) of parish council meetings.

If remote meetings work effectively then there maybe flexibility to continue to hold committees in this way.  If this decision is taken consideration should be given to the length of agenda, whether items are urgent business and when discussing confidential items.

Planning: as the Planning Committee are required to rely on being able to view applications online via the Mid Sussex District Council Planning Portal it is proposed that the Council will initially consider the applications via email which the Deputy Clerk/Clerk will summarise the responses to draw up a consensus of the Committees view. This will then be submitted to the District Council as the Parishes view. As part of this process members of the public will be able to submit representations for and against applications that will be circulated to members of the planning committee to assist them in their deliberations.

9.13     Banking arrangements: The Councils current banking accounts are held with Barclays and are operated as traditional accounts utilising cheques/paying in books with some electronic payments. The Councils transactions are required to be authorised by two separate signatories.

The Council was in the process of increasing the number of signatories on its existing accounts just prior to the ‘lock down’ however as it would have been necessary for the additional signatories to attend the bank in person to prove identity this process was not concluded.

Banks are significantly reducing their current opening hours therefore if a ‘faster electronic bank payment’ is required to be made it is currently necessary for an officer (Clerk) to attend the bank in person to sanction the transaction.

Preliminary discussions have been held with Barclays Business Banking and it appears that the Parish Council would be able to access on-line banking requiring dual signatories. Authority is therefore sought to move over to online banking to reduce the need for officers to visit the bank in person and for signatories to authorise hard copy documents. A potential issue is that we are currently unable to add additional signatories without those individual(s) being required to visit the branch in person to prove identity which at the current time is not felt to be feasible.

If our current bank is unable to facilitate and meet the control framework required by the Parish Council the clerk be authorised to identify an alternative provider to operate the Councils current account transactions such as Unity bank. This particular bank specialises in online accounts for organisations such as Parish Councils to facilitate banking to be operated electronically and fulfilling the required controls.

It would be proposed that if the option of an alternative bank were taken up the Councils other accounts would remain with our existing bank provider at this time.

Member’s views are sought

9.14     Delegations:

Under the Council’s current delegation arrangements within the Councils Standing Orders and Financial Regulations the Council does provide some flexibility to allow the Council to undertake routine business activities provided funds are available within designated cost centre budgets.

In addition Financial Regulation 3.6 states ‘The Clerk may incur expenditure on behalf of the Council which is necessary to carry out a repair replacement or other work which is of extreme urgency that it must be done at once, whether or not there is a budgetary provision for the expenditure, subject to a limit of £750.The Clerk shall report such action to the Chairman of the relevant committee as soon as possible and to the Council as soon as practicable.’

Under the Financial Regulation 13 Procurement of Goods and Services the Clerk/RFO is authorised to accept contracts on behalf of the Council subject to a discretionary method of invitation up to £5,000

In light of the current circumstances Members are requested to review the current limit of £750 and to consider aligning this nearer to the threshold for the Clerk/RFO contract acceptance authorities (Say £2,500) as an interim measure during the current situation. This could be done as a temporary arrangement to facilitate the need to respond to urgent matters between meetings. The approval of this framework to enable expenditure up to the agreed threshold would still require agreement with the relevant Chairs and sufficient funds being identified by the Clerk to fund any payments, any payments would also be subject to scrutiny as part of the Councils internal control framework and payment authorisation arrangements therefore sufficient safeguards would continue to be in place. It would be anticipated that if this arrangement was agreed it would only be utilised in a matter of urgency.

9.15     Precept 2020/21– This is to confirm to Members that the Council has received its first precept instalment in the sum of £147,773 for 2020/21

9.16     Talbot Field – Tree works. The Council has recently received an Arboricultural report in relation to a property adjoining Talbot field where the Council has previously installed root barriers. In relation to those trees (poplars) the barrier has proved effective. It is understood that the property has suffered from subsidence some of which may have been influenced by roots that have been located in or near the foundations of the property and the extraction of moisture from the ground. The report details a recommended arboriculture solution which involves the removal of four trees (1 Oak, 2 x Cherry and Field Maple) within the field and the reducing in height of another Oak tree. During the current abatement of meetings I have been in liaison with both the Chair of the Council and the Chair of Grounds & Environment Committee and have sought a quote to undertake these works as the level of expenditure is outside of our respective authorities but works are required to be progressed at the earliest opportunity.

Talbot Field’s current tree budget stands at £750 (2020/21) whereas the cost of the works for the removal of the four trees and the stumps to be ground and the Oak tree to be reduced in height would cost circa £2,000 if all works were completed at the same time, therefore any shortfall in budget will need to be met from General reserves.

Member’s views are sought on the proposal. If the works are commissioned it is intended that some of the spoil will be removed from site however chippings can be utilised to replenish the woodland area path together with the creation of a number of wildlife log piles.

10. Insurance – To note that Council’s insurance policy has been renewed automatically with Came & Company (AXA) as part of 3 year term contract which is entering its final year.

11. Councillor Vacancy – (verbal update)

12. Urgent Matters at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.

13. To note that the date of the next Council meeting is TBA


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.

Confidential item

14. Staffing matters

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.


Minutes of the Virtual Meeting of the Parish Council held on 19th May 2020 at 2.30pm.

Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir (Chair),Jane Baker ( Vice Chair),Bill Hatton, Sue Hatton, Frances Gaudencio, Kate Bailey, Nick Owens, David Hammond, Frank Rylance and Bob Brewer

Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth

Deputy Clerk: Tracy Forte


PC20/01      APOLOGIES

 Cllr Peter Gibbons, Leslie Campbell, Alex Simmons, Kristian Berggreen


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.


PC20/03      MINUTES

The minutes of the meeting held on the 10th March 2020 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.      


There was two members of the public present (virtually) who observed proceedings but did not wish to speak.

PC20/05      MINUTES

To agree the following Minutes.

Planning Committee minutes for the 9th March 2020

PC20/06      FINANCE

Members considered the finance reports and the supporting bank statements and reviewed the payment list. The Finance report and payments totalling £20,858.64 for the period ending 28th February 2020 Appendix 1 and the payment list totalling £23,772.21 for the period ending 31st March 2020 Appendix 2 were considered and approved. (Note- during 2020 we should use 4 digits for the year).

PC20/07      Reports

7.1        District Councillors reports: – Cllr Sue Hatton (SH) advised that most MSDC employees are now working remotely with some of senior management on site. MSDC are expecting that the current crisis will impact on their budget proposals for this year .The Council meetings have tended to be cancelled as the Council starts to move over to virtual meetings in the near future with a number scheduled for June. A number of practice training sessions have been set up for members.

Cllr Hatton also updated members that the Green waste collection service had resumed and that WSCC tips had now reopened.

7.2       County Councillors report – no report had been received

7.3         Rail matters – Nothing to report.

7.4         Youth Initiatives – Cllr Francis Gaudencio informed members that the youth group operating in Adastra Hall has ceased to run at present due to the pandemic but it was exploring the option of running some online sessions.  With regard to the separate youth organisation being set up by Cllrs Gaudencio and Hammond (not in their capacity of Councillors) progress is being made but some aspects are proving to be complex.

7.5         Police matters – Members were advised that the police are regularly attending the park to ensure members of the public were complying with government guidelines. In addition it was noted that a number of burglaries have been occurring in the Hassocks area primarily to outbuildings. Speeding has also been an issue and in particular the use of motorbikes which police are proactively trying to address.

7.6        Report from Councillors on meetings of outside bodies where the Council is represented – Nothing to report

PC20/8        CHAIRS REPORT – Nothing to report

PC20/9        CLERK’S REPORT

9.1      Local Authorities & Police Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police & Crime Panel Meetings) Regulation 2202 and associated impacts.

The Clerk advised members that with the introduction of the recent legislation it provides the Authority with additional flexibility in how it is able to manage its business going forward in light of the pandemic. Both the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Government advice is that all councils should cease to hold physical meetings or gatherings. This should include Full Council, Committee meetings, and Annual Parish Meeting or Council meetings with electors.

Member’s attention was drawn to Appendix 3 in the agenda which set out the proposed meeting programme for the forthcoming year which was drafted pre Covid 19 therefore members were invited to take this into consideration when determining the frequency of meetings going forward.

Members were taken through each category of meeting and were invited to consider a number of options for each one in turn:

9.2    Annual Parish meeting: Members were informed that this meeting is usually required to be held between the 1st April and 1st June each year.

This meeting is not a Council meeting but an opportunity for members of the public to hear about the work of the Council in the previous year and to raise questions to the Council.

The Clerk advised members that in light of previous attendance levels and in the current climate it was felt that this meeting was probably not critical at this time.

The new legislation provided authorities with the opportunity to consider how, if and when they wish to hold this meeting. Members were invited to consider 3 options:

  • Option 1 Cancel the Annual Parish Meeting altogether for 2020.
  • Option 2 Postpone the meeting for electors and seek to hold a remote version between now and June 2020.
  • Option 3 Postpone and seek to arrange later in the year

Members debated the merits of each option and RESOLVED to APPROVE Option1 to cancel the Annual Parish Meeting for 2020

9.3    Annual Statutory meeting: The purpose of this meeting is to elect the   Chair and Vice Chair of the Council and to appoint sub-committee memberships and representatives to outside bodies.

Regulation 4 (2) of the new act provides authorities with the opportunity to consider whether to continue with the existing arrangements/appointments until May 2021 without the need to convene an Annual Statutory meeting. Subject to members being happy to continue in their current roles:

Members were invited to consider two options:

  • Option 1 Cancel the Annual Statutory meeting altogether and continue to run with the existing appointment of Chair, Vice Chair as well as Committee membership and outside body representation.
  • Option 2 Hold the Statutory meeting but hold this remotely.

Members considered the available options and in light of the current position RESOLVED to APPROVE Option 1 to cancel the Annual Statutory meeting and retain the current arrangements/positions for the forthcoming year.

9.4  Standing Committees – Members then gave consideration to potential options in relation to Standing Committees such as Grounds & Environment Committee and Policy Resources & Communications Committee.

The consensus from members was that the Council should work towards the frequency of meetings set out within (Appendix 3) to provide the Council with a framework, but a decision would be taken as to whether there is a need to hold a meeting each time in consultation with the respective Committee Chairs.

Members felt that it would be beneficial to have an agreed framework of meetings to work towards and that it could be adjusted if required at a later point.

With the additional flexibilities in respect of timings meetings introduced under the new legislation members preferred option was to convene all future meetings to commence at 14.30 hrs.

Members AGREED to continue with meetings based on the proposed meeting calendar and to amend/vary when required in consultation with the relevant chair.

Members also AGREED that in the current situation meetings should be convened at 2.30pm.

9.5 Planning Committee the Clerk proposed an alternative approach for members to consider the operation of the Planning Committee via email consultation to obtain a consensus from the members and enable the public to feed into the process. Member’s preference was to move over to virtual meetings as soon as practical and that planning committee members would need to ensure they view the Planning portal prior to the meeting.

Members therefore RESOLVED to move over to virtual planning meetings as soon as practical.

9.6  Banking Arrangements the Council were informed that the Councils current bank accounts were operated as traditional accounts.

The Council were in the process of extending the number of authorised signatories prior to the lockdown to strengthen resilience, however due to the requirement of individuals having to attend the local branch in person to prove identity this process was not completed.

Members were advised that the local branch had significantly reduced its opening hours and for the Council to transact any faster electronic payments it is necessary for the Clerk to attend the bank in person.

Members were advised that although there does appear to be the potential to move over to on-line dual signatory authorisation with our existing provider but the issue still remains regarding adding additional signatories and proof of identity.

Members were requested to consider the option of looking at an alternative online bank provider subject to the required authorisation processes being put in place but without the need for individuals to prove identity in person when the account is first set up.

The Clerk indicted that if members were minded to consider this approach the intention would be to retain our current portfolio of accounts with Barclays and set up a new account with another provider to transact the Councils day to business transactions. This would also enable the Council to spread funds across a wider number of financial institutions. The intention would be to transfer funds regularly to the new provider from the Councils existing accounts to enable the day to day transactions and to reduce the need to visit the bank in person.

Members considered the proposals and felt that at this current time it would be advantageous to change over to online banking for the Councils day to day business transactions subject to the Clerk identifying a suitable provider.

Members APPROVED the proposal to move to an alternate online banking provider as soon as practical to administer the Councils day to day business transactions.

All other accounts would remain with Barclays for the time being.

9.7      Delegations Members were requested to consider increasing the Clerks authority to incur additional expenditure (currently £750) in light of the current pandemic. Members were advised that if they were minded to approve the suggested increase to £2,500 any incurrence of expenditure would still be required to seek agreement from the Chairs, subject to funds being identified and subject to scrutiny as part of the financial control framework.

Members felt that in the current situation and to aid operational efficiency that they AGREED to increase the Clerks delegated authority to incur expenditure up to £2,500 subject to the control process referred to in the report being in place.

Standing Orders will be amended to reflect this approval

9.8       Precept Members were informed that the Council was in receipt of its first instalment from Mid Sussex District Council in the sum of £ 147,773.

Members sought confirmation as to whether the pandemic would impact on the level of precept payable to the Parish Council.

The Clerk indicated that it may impact adversely on the District Councils budget as Government funding to support District Councils to meet the additional costs incurred in supporting the government initiatives is unlikely to cover all costs and/or the potential shortfall in the District Councils  revenue streams (e.g.: car park fees, leases, miscellaneous income etc.). However if households are experiencing financial difficulties in respect of Council Tax they may be able to access Council Tax benefit. Therefore on this basis it was not anticipated this would impact on the Parish Councils precept element.

9.9     Talbot Field Members considered a request to remove three trees and the reduction in height of another. The Council had received an arboriculture report recommending the said action.

The cost of these works if all works were completed at one time would be around £2,000.

Members were advised that the current tree budget for Talbot field stood at £750 therefore any shortfall would have to be met from General reserves.

Member’s views were sought on the proposed works.

Members felt that it would be sad to see these trees removed however based on the report the Council should remove and prune the said trees.

Members expressed the view that the Council should replant some trees in Talbot field later in the year. All members supported this proposal.

After careful consideration members RECOMMENDED that the said three trees be removed and the fourth pruned to reduce its height and that the shortfall in funds be met from General Reserves.

9.10 Insurance Members were advised that the Councils insurance had been renewed automatically as part of a three year term contract. Noted

9.11 Councillor Vacancy Members were provided with an update that with the resignation of Georgia Cheshire the Council had one vacancy which had been duly advertised.

The Clerk indicated that a number of applications had been received from people interested in joining the Council. Members will therefore be invited to consider these applications at a future meeting. In the current climate this is likely to be via a remote meeting and consideration will need to be given as to how the Council completes the legalities from a logistical perspective re declaration of acceptance etc.

PC20/10      URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.

Cllr Gaudencio requested an item regarding Community Right to Bid/Community assets be included in the next agenda.


To note that the date of the next Council meeting is Tuesday 30th June 2020 at 2.30pm.


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.

Members of the public left the virtual meeting.