HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
The MEETING of HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL will be held on Tuesday 11 January 2022 in Parish Centre, Adastra Park which is scheduled to commence at 7.30pm
Parish Clerk – 5 January 2022
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. However to maintain Covid safety it may be necessary to restrict attendance at this current time.
1.1 To accept Apologies for absence.
2. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
2.1. To deal with any disclosure by Members of any dis-closable 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 9th November 2021
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 note the minutes for 1st November 2021, 22nd November 2021 and the 13th December 2021.
5.2. Policy Resources & Communications Committee – to accept the minutes for 30th November 2021.
5.3 Neighbourhood Plan Committee – to note the minutes for 9th December 2021
6.1. To approve the Financial Report and authorise the list of payments in the sum of £24,208.61 issued between 1 October 2021 and 31st October 2021. (please click here for Appendix 1) and payments in the sum of £21,342.39 issued between 1 November and 30 November 2021 (please click here for Appendix 2)
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 – oral report (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 2022/23 – The attached report set out in (please click here for Appendix 3) details the draft budget proposal for 2022/23. Policy Resources & Communications Committee considered the original report in detail on 30th November 2021 (PRC/21/5) and made the following recommendations.
|After careful consideration of the proposed budget requirement Members
PRC21/6.1 RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to full Council that they consider adopting option 3 and set the Precept level at £312,302 for 2022/23 to deliver a balanced budget and finance the play equipment sinking fund.
PRC21/6.2. Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to full Council to approve the allocation set out in the report of General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves to support the initiatives recently identified and supported at Grounds and Environment Committee.
The budget has been reviewed and adjusted in Appendix 3 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 2022/23.
Based on the draft budget proposal recommended by Policy Resources & Communications Committee this would deliver a balanced budget and allow for an allocation to be set aside for the play equipment sinking fund for 2022/23 in Earmarked reserves. With the impact of the increased property base (3,490 to 3,612 = increase of 122) over the last year this means that any Council tax raised will be spread over a larger number of properties. Therefore if Members were minded to agree with Policy Resources & Communications Committee recommendation this would equate to a 5.67% increase in precept but only a 2.1% increase in Council tax paid on a band D equivalent property due to the increased property base.
This increase would equate to around £1.76 per annum (or just over 3 pence per week) in respect of the Parish Council Tax element for a band D property Members views are sought on this proposal.
9.2 Interim Internal Audit Report.
This attached report (please click here for Appendix 4) sets out the findings from the interim internal audit two suggested recommendations are made by the internal auditor.
1. To review the level of fidelity Guarantee Cover which currently stands at £200,000 which is setup to protect the Council against potential fraudulent activity of staff. The current level is below our overall account holding at any one time and was set initially in consultation with our broker therefore the Council could be exposed to some risk.
Risk mitigation: The Council currently has a number of mitigating measures in place to reduce the risk of this eventuality including: Institute an internal audit system for all financial records; independent accountant performs a full audit annually; Bank accounts are reconciled regularly; Established countersignature procedures for checks; Security procedures for all computer operations; formal management procedures; formal employment policy for hiring new employees; Purchased Fidelity Guarantee Insurance. On all recent audits no issues have been identified with good control frameworks confirmed in place and operation.
The Councils insurance is due for renewal in June 2022 therefore members may wish to either:
- Retain the current level of fidelity cover and noting the risk mitigation measures in place.
- Increase the overall coverage immediately and attract an increased premium.
- To review the level of coverage when the policy is reviewed in June 2022 as part of the insurance contract.
2. To review the Financial Regulations against the NALC model documents.
Response: A report will be considered by Policy Resources and Communications prior to the year end to review the current Financial Regulations.
Member’s views are sought.
10. URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
11. DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next Council meeting is Tuesday 8th February 2022 at 7.30pm.
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 11th January 2022 at 7.30pm in Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks
Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir, Kristian Berggreen, Claire Tester, David Bunting, Nick Owens and Carolyn Barton
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
Visiting Member(s): – None
PC21/86 APOLOGIES Cllrs Alex Simmons, Kate Bailey, Jane Baker, Robert Brewer, Bill Hatton, Sue Hatton ,Frances Gaudencio and Cllr Leslie Campbell.
County Councillor Kirsty Lord
PC21/87 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. – None.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 9th November 2021 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
PC21/89 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No members of the public were present.
Members noted the Minutes of the informal Planning Committee meetings on the 1st November 2021, 22nd November 2021 and 13th December 2021.
Cllr Owens sought clarification as to why the Council were only being asked to note these minutes as opposed to agreeing them. The Clerk explained that due to planning meetings being held as ‘virtual meetings ‘they are treated as informal meetings. This is permitted as the parish council are not the planning decision making body, this responsibility lies with MSDC. It will therefore be necessary for the Planning Committee when it resumes in person meetings to formally sign off and agree the minutes of the virtual meetings.
Members also noted the minutes for the Policy Resources & Communications Committee 30th November 2021 & the Neighbourhood Plan Committee 9th December 2021.
91.1 Members considered the finance reports and the supporting bank statements and reviewed the following payment list.
The Finance report and payments totalling £24,208.61 (Appendix 1) for the period ending 31st October 2021 were considered and APPROVED.
The Finance report and payments totalling £21,342.39 (Appendix 2) for the period ending 30th November 2021 were considered and APPROVED
92.1 County Councillors reports: – Cllr Kirsty Lord (KL)
Cllr Lord was not in attendance but provided a report to the Clerk to read out.
Highways Drainage: The additional overflow drain serving Parklands Road/Keymer Road is now complete and working. It was initially started at the end of November but was not able to be completed due to a later than expected start and the need to finish not to impact on ‘Light up Hassocks’ event.
The work was completed during the Christmas period although this did cause some concern for High street traders due to timing however WSCC considered the work to be urgent and therefore was required to be carried out as soon as possible.
After the initial work heavy rain caused a breach of the Florist and near breach of the hairdressers however after the works had been completed it had been reported that the overflow drain worked well during the very heavy rainfall on Boxing Day which given the conditions would likely to have resulted in further breaches without the drain. The drain will be monitored to ensure that it is working as planned. It should be acknowledged that WSCC have responded well since Cllr Lord first raised the issue with them in October 2020 after the flooding, particularly so since the heavy rains in June 2021 and it has only taken six months from that point for a solution to be delivered which is faster than anticipated.
Speeding & Road safety:
Following a recent fatal accident Cllr Lord has recently met with residents at Beaconhurst/Silverdale area and Brighton Road and have taken some concerns forward to WSCC.
Cllr Lord indicated that she was trying to secure access to a Speed Indicator Device (SID) for a few weeks to obtain speed data for some key locations, however as this device is shared between many parishes this is not available that often.
Within the written report Cllr Lord posed the question whether the Parish Council would consider purchasing their own (SID) for use within the parish. The Clerk indicated that the parish had previously considered this option but the cost of the machine at that time was circa £2,000 – £2,500 and currently there would be no capacity to resource the installation, or changing of batteries on any device. It was also noted that there were potential limitations on the locations the SID could be located. It was noted that if members were minded to consider this option it would be considered by Grounds & Environment Committee initially.
A motion to allow a more flexible speed policies was recently considered and debated and accepted by WSCC in December. This means local areas should be able to apply for 20mph speed zones more easily, quiet lanes etc. than in the past.
Cllr Lord indicated that she felt work on road safety and speeding is likely to be a key concern within the village this year therefore requested that the Parish Council appoint a representative who can work with her on issues relating to speeding and road safety.
Members requested that the Clerk email members to ascertain if any members would be interested in this role.
Highways repairs: The permanent repairs to Keymer Road were carried out overnight before Christmas, however the promised repair at Stonepound Crossroads (Right turn from London Road to Hurst Road) was not undertaken. The lines under the railway bridge and at Stonepound were not re-instated properly, these matters are being chased up.
Schools: Cllr Lord indicated that she had been in contact with WSCC officers regarding school places as we approach offers day and also relating to the Ockley Lane development.
Budget: The WSCC budget is to be debated and voted on 18th February 2022, a further update will be brought forward at a future Parish Council meeting in due course.
92.2 District Councillor Report – none
92.3 Police Report – none
92.4 Rail Matters – none
92.5 Youth Initiatives – none.
92.6 Report from Councillors on meetings of outside bodies where the Council is represented –
Nothing to report.
PC21/93 CHAIRMANS REPORT – nothing to report
PC21/94 CLERK’S REPORT
94.1 Budget Proposal 2022/23
The Clerk introduced the report setting out a budget proposal for 2022/23 together with the projected out turn for the current financial year 2021/22. (Appendix 3)
The attached paper had previously been considered by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee in late November where they recommended that the Council consider setting the precept level at £312,302.
The Clerk indicated that the report before members had been prepared for illustrative purposes to show the impact on the budget in the event members chose not to apply any uplift. If this approach was taken this would return a deficit budget of (£6,655) for 2022/23.
The Clerk then took members through each page of the report in turn. Member’s attention was drawn specifically to page 3 of the report under Summary of Budget information where 3 options were presented for members to consider together with details of the impact on the precept.
Based on the Policy Resources & Communications Committees recommendation their preferred option would be to adopt option three which would result in a band D property paying £1.76 per annum extra in the forthcoming financial year in part as the property base had increased which meant the costs could be spread across more properties. On page 4 of the report a table summarised the impact of each option.
Members were then invited to consider section 3 on page 5 of the report which detailed the year end projected out turn and the proposed budget for the next financial year. In section 4 a narrative was provided to explain some of budget variances/proposed options.
The Clerk paused at this point and invited any questions from Members.
A number of questions were raised by Members which were responded to by the Clerk which members were content with. Although members were supportive of the funding allocated to support a Community Led Plan it was acknowledged that a formal decision would need to be taken ultimately by Full Council to support this prior to embarking on this approach.
Members were advised that in section 5 of the report it summarises the overall impact on the council finances in the event the Council chose not to increase the precept it would not deliver a balanced budget.
Members were then invited to view page 10 of the report which set out the current earmarked reserves position.
The Clerk advised members that In 2021/22 a number of savings have been realised therefore an opportunity existed to allocate some additional funding to support the councils priorities by transferring funds from general reserves to earmarked reserves prior to the year end. It was suggested that members consider the allocation of an additional £41,105 (22/23) from general reserves and allocate the £35,000 (20/21) previously allocated last year to specific schemes. It was suggested that these funds should be allocated to those areas recently identified and supported by the Grounds & Environment Committee, the tables set out in section 6 on pages 10 and 11 of the report set out the position if members were minded to support this approach.
This proposal had been supported by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee.
Members welcomed the allocation to Flooding which may be available to support the work of the Flood group. Members sought clarification on some of the allocations therefore the Clerk provided some background in relation to how the additional sums were apportioned to the respective descriptors. Members were content with the explanations provided.
Members were therefore requested to consider whether they wished to accept the Policy Resources & Communications Committee recommendation to raise the 2022/23 precept to £312,302 to deliver a balanced budget and enable provision to fund the play area sinking fund for 2022/23.
If members were minded to do so this would equate to an overall precept % increase of 5.67% but as a result of the increase in the property base a 2.1% increase in charge which would be equivalent to an additional £1.76 per annum for a band D property.
The Chair therefore invited members to consider this recommendation
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the proposed precept for 2022/23 in the sum of £312,302 to deliver a balanced budget and support the provision of the play area sinking fund.
All members present voted in favour of this proposal
Members were also invited to consider approving the additional allocation of £44,102 from General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves and the detailed allocation of funds to the specific initiatives.
Members RESOLVED to APPROVE the additional allocation of £44,102 from General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves to support the ongoing Councils priorities.
94.2 Interim Internal Audit Report
The Clerk introduced the Interim Internal Auditors report set out in Appendix 4 and were invited to consider two recommendations made by the auditor.
Recommendation 1: Members are asked to consider reviewing the level of fidelity guarantee insurance cover the Council currently holds which currently stands at £200,000 which was the level set initially in consultation with the Councils Insurers but is below the value of the authority’s financial holdings however the level of coverage should be determined by the risk appetite of the organisation.
Members were advised that the Council has a number of risk mitigation measures in place but members are requested to consider the following options:
a) Retain the current level of cover noting the mitigation measures in place.
b) Increase the overall coverage immediately and attract a higher premium.
c) Review the level of coverage when the insurance policy is reviewed in June 2022.
Members did not express a strong view at this stage but requested that the Clerk approach the Councils Insurer to ascertain the level of premium increase if the coverage were to be uplifted and a further report be brought back to full council to consider, The Clerk agreed to undertake this task and to bring something back to the next full council.
Recommendation 2 was that the Councils Financial Regulation should be reviewed against the NALC model documents. The Clerk indicated that this will be undertaken and considered by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee at a future point when in person meetings resume fully, Members NOTED the proposed action.
Members were satisfied with the content of the report and RESOLVED to Note and AGREE the contents of the report.
PC21/95 URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – none
PC21/96 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next Parish Council meeting is Tuesday 8th February 2022 at 7.30pm.