The MEETING of HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL will be held on Tuesday 8 March 2022 in Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks which is scheduled to commence at 7.30pm.
Parish Clerk 1st March 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 8th February 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 note the minutes for 15th February 2022.
6.1. To approve the Financial Report and authorise the list of payments in the sum of £19,130.93 issued between 1st January 2022 and 31st January 2022 see Appendix 1. To view Appendix 1 please click here.
7.1. West Sussex County Councillor Report
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 Adastra Bowls Club – The Council has received a letter from the Bowls club seeking permission to replace their current external windows and doors with new replacement UPVC units. The club leases the building from the Parish Council on a full repairing lease and the club have continued to maintain the facility in good order and improved the facilities overall.
The Council allocates a budget for the club to fully maintain the green on behalf of the Council via a group of volunteers within the club at a significantly reduced cost compared to how much it would cost the parish council if they were to take on this responsibility directly.
The club celebrates its 100th year Anniversary this year and have number of events programmed throughout the year and are therefore keen to present the facility in a positive light.
The Clerk has recently attended a site meeting with club representatives and requested the club to submit their proposals in writing for members to consider. The attached letter (Appendix 2 please click here to view) firstly seeks approval from the Council as landlord to permit them to change the existing UPVC windows and doors and secondly to seek member’s views as to whether the Council would be prepared to make a contribution towards the cost of the new windows/doors. Ultimately if anything were to happen to the club in future years the building would be returned to the ownership of the Council as part of the lease agreement therefore it would be in the Councils interest to ensure the building continues to remain in good order.
The overall cost of this work is estimated to be circa £4,600
The Parish Council currently makes provision within a Repairs & Renewals budget annually towards the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the Bowling Green which in this financial year will remain underspent in part as the green has not required the same level of maintenance this year. It has been confirmed with the club that they will not require to draw down any further funds in this financial year for the green upkeep.
Members are therefore requested to consider:
a) Whether they wish to grant approval for the club to replace the existing windows and doors.
b)Contribute some of the unspent Bowls club R & R budget to support the clubs proposal.
It is estimated that up to £1500 within the R & R fund could be available to allocate if members were minded to do so. If this budget remains underspent at the year- end these funds will be returned to General Reserves.
Member’s views are sought.
9.2 Insurance Contract. – The Councils current insurance arrangement with Axa is due to expire on the 31st May 2022. Parish Council insurance is a specialised market with limited providers therefore it is proposed that a similar approach to that taken previously and seek to test the market utilising a specialist insurance broker with an option to consider entering into a 3 year term agreement. Attempts were made to secure a three year term contract in 2021 however at that time during the pandemic the insurance providers were limiting the offer to a one year agreement.
Our current broker Gallagher’s (formerly known as Came & Company) managed our previous insurance tender and its proposed to approach them to seek quotations from the market, it is anticipated that this approach will enable the Council to secure best value not only in terms of comprehensiveness of cover provided by the respective policies but also the value of the premium.
Members are therefore requested to consider and approve the proposed approach and the principle of entering into a term agreement with the successful company if possible.
The outcome of the exercise will be brought back to Council to consider.
Member’s views are sought.
9.3 Oak Tree – Talbot Field The Council commissioned a Tree condition safety survey earlier this year across a number of the Councils sites including Adastra Park, Parklands Copse and Talbot field where a detailed report was generated that will inform future tree maintenance programmes. As part of this exercise it identified a number of trees (6) that required further investigation. This entailed the use of Pictus surveys and test drillings which identified one of these trees within the Councils ownership required further management action to be taken in the short term.
The tree in question is located within Talbot field and in close proximity to the highway. Based on the findings of the study the council has limited options available to it other than to fell the tree to ground level due to risks it potentially poses. The cost of these works would be circa £2,500.
The cost of these works exceed the available funds within the Talbot Field tree budget therefore funds will need to be released from General reserves to enable this work to be completed.
The Fauna & Flora group who work in partnership with the Parish Council to maintain the site were contacted to see if they had any views on the options available to the Council in respect of the Oak and have reluctantly agreed that the Council has limited options other than to fell the tree.
Members are therefore requested to authorise the sum of up to £2,500 to be released from general reserves to enable the required works to be undertaken.
9.4 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.
Unity Trust Bank specialises in the provision of Bank accounts for Parish Councils and Charitable organisations which are customisable to enable dual authorisation of payments.
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 and we will 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.
9.5 Queens Jubilee – At the February Council meeting members discussed the option of installing some additional planters within the village to mark the Queens Jubilee. Cllrs Weir, Gaudencio and Bunting were tasked with identifying potential locations where additional planters could be located within the village
A number of locations have been identified for potentially up to three planters however before being located at the potential sites appropriate permissions will need to be obtained from WSCC.
At present no funding has been allocated towards this initiative therefore members are invited to consider acquiring potentially up to three additional planters subject to the appropriate licences being secured.
To achieve this members are requested to consider whether they wish to support the release of funds from General reserves to deliver this. It is anticipated that the scheme could cost circa £3,500 initially with ongoing maintenance costs thereafter, planting/watering etc. The overall cost of the scheme will be dependent on the style of planters to be installed.
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 12th April 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.
Draft Minutes of the meeting of the Parish Council held on 8th March 2022
at 7.30pm in Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks
Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir, Jane Baker, Alex Simmons, David Bunting, Nick Owens, Frances Gaudencio, Sue Hatton ,Bill Hatton and Cllr Leslie Campbell.
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
Visiting Member(s): – County Councillor Kirsty Lord (Sent Apologies)
PC21/109 APOLOGIES Cllr Carolyn Barton, Kristian Berggreen
Absent without apologies: Cllrs, Kate Bailey, Robert Brewer
PC21/110 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 8th February 2022 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
PC21/112 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No members of the public were present.
Members noted the Minutes of the informal Planning Committee meeting on the15th February 2022.
114.1 Members considered the finance reports and the supporting bank statements and reviewed the following payment list.
The Finance report and payments totalling £19,130.93 (Appendix 1) for the period ending 31st January 2022 were considered and APPROVED.
115.1 County Councillors reports: – Cllr Kirsty Lord (KL) had submitted her apologies but had provided a report for the Clerk to present as follows
WSCC budget was passed on Monday 28th February. There will be a 2.99% increase in council tax
County are awaiting the final decision by the cabinet member on moving to a permanent booking system at a number of recycling centres. While the recommendation is to move those sites that had a temporary booking system to permanent, the recommendation is that Burgess Hill (which was added into the consultation) does not move to a booking system at this time, though there will be the ability to introduce booking temporarily if needed for example to alleviate congestion if this proves to be a problem.
Cabinet is due to agree next week that WSCC commits to carry out the necessary investment to convert the black bin waste facility at Horsham to run a separate line for food waste. The timing of this will be dependent on when the district and borough councils agree too or the legal duty commences to collect food waste collection (per the 2021 Environment Act).
MSDC propose to start a trial later this year funded by WSCC of 1-2-3 waste collection (food waste/absorbent hygiene products every week, recycling bin every fortnight and black bin every three weeks).
A similar trial is proving successful in Arun. The MSDC trial will not cover Hassocks.
Cabinet is also due to approve the fire and rescue community risk management plan next week. Burgess hill was identified as requiring better coverage at weekends and this is being proposed through the CRMP.
Downlands community school is taking a bulge class in September 2022. Despite this there is still a small number of children in catchment in the villages who did not receive places straight away. Cllr Lord is involved in ongoing discussions to consider the needs for September 2023.
Burgess Hill academy has also taken a bulge class but the northern arc secondary school – contract recently given to university of Brighton academies trust, the same trust that runs Burgess hill academy – is expected to alleviate the secondary school places issue in the south of Mid-Sussex from September 2024.
Cllr Lord continues to chase up on repairs to Stonepound and on the repainting of the bike refuge and under the railway bridge which is understood to be programmed for 13th April 2022.
Cllr Weir advised members that Cllr Lord had just advised him that the Highways Delivery Programme for 2022/23 had been agreed and incorporated three sites within Hassocks:
- Bicycle route to Burgess Hill which will be part of Strategic site development.
- Bridleway 15C Clayton up to Jack & Jill to be resurfaced
- PROW 13C Coldharbour Farm
Cllr Lord also advised that she had been working with a landowner on some of the issues relating to ash die back on Clayton hill. There will be a further road closure on 28th March
Contact had been made by a Saxon Mills resident about the adoption of the roads by WSCC and issues with speeding which are now being followed up.
Cllr Lord informed members that she was working with highways and the proprietors on the structure outside one of the village cafes.
Members discussed this matter in detail and were supportive of the structure being allowed to be retained as it was felt that it enhanced/improved the street scene and that County should consider ways of allowing this structure to be retained particularly in light of the government’s encouragement to support the recovery of the high streets. The parish council had previously considered a planning application in respect of this structure and were supportive of the proposal. Members agreed that the Council should write a letter of support to WSCC to allow the structure to be retained via a formal agreement with the business proprietor. Members agreed that the Council should draft a letter to WSCC requesting they consider the Parish Councils views. It was proposed that Cllr Tester in conjunction with the Clerk would draft a letter on behalf of the Council.
115.2 District Councillor Report (Cllr Sue Hatton)
MSDC have agreed an overall Budget increase of 2.8% for the forthcoming year.
MSDC have recently appointed a new Deputy Leader in John Belsey and propose to nominate a seventh cabinet member in May.
Clair Hall – MSDC have extended the licence for the use of Claire Hall to the NHS until February 2024.
MSDC expect to deliver 250 new affordable homes in 2022/23. By the end of November 117 homeless cases were in temporary accommodation and over 497 homeless household support cases had been considered in the year by MSDC which is a marked increase on previous years.
Friars Oak Planning reserved matters are scheduled to be considered on 17th March by MSDC. Cllr Hatton enquired whether HPC propose to send an attendee. Cllr Weir indicated that HPC Planning committee would be asked to consider this option.
HPC members raised a question regarding the rising fuel costs and the potential impact it could have on services. Cllr Hatton indicated that circumstances remain challenging also that levels of leisure facility usage has increased but is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
115.3 Police Report – The Clerk advised members that the council had been approached by the local PCSO to establish beat surgeries in the village to allow residents to visit and speak to an officer and to raise the presence of the police within the village. Discussions are ongoing at present to confirm venue(s) (Parish centre or Pavilion) and potential dates.
115.4 Rail Matters – Cllr Campbell advised members that good progress has been made on the installation of the underpass. Cllr Owens confirmed that at the weekend replacement buses were continuing to run whilst Network rail concludes its work on the Brighton line.
115.5 Youth Initiatives – Cllr Gaudencio indicated there were no matters to report.
115.6 Report from Councillors on meetings of outside bodies where the Council is represented –
Cllr Bill Hatton advised members that he recently attended a virtual Oldland Mill meeting. The mill is currently not open to visitors at present although they hope to reopen soon and restart milling.
Cllr Weir advised he attended a virtual meeting with Sussex Police where they shared how the police are using ‘Big data’ intelligence to anticipate where specific crimes are likely to occur or specific individuals are likely to be active. The use of technology in this way enhances the force’s ability to detect and prevent crime.
Cllr Sue Hatton advised members that she recently attended the consultation event regarding the proposed improvements at Belmont Recreation ground (London Rd) and was impressed with the proposed improvements.
Cllr Owens and Weir recently attended a MSALC meeting and gave a presentation on how locally implemented policies could more rapidly encourage the development of Energy Efficiency Houses. The presentation was well received and it was agreed that MSALC would support a letter being sent to MSDC to encourage them to apply this. A proposed letter will be considered at the next MSALC meeting in June.
Cllr Weir expressed the view that Cllr Owens presentation could be easily adapted to use in other forums.
PC21/116 CHAIRMANS REPORT – Cllr Weir informed members that the Parish Council had been invited to run a stall at the forthcoming May Day event within Adastra Park. Although members felt that it would be good to have a presence at the event it was felt that at the current time the Parish had insufficient resources and would not be able put something together within the timeframe therefore reluctantly on this occasion members agreed not to take up this offer.
PC21/117 CLERK’S REPORT
117.1 Adastra Bowls Club – The Clerk introduced a report inviting members to consider a request from the Adastra Bowls Club which was set out in the attached letter in Appendix 2.
Members were advised that it was the bowls clubs 100th anniversary year and they had a number of events scheduled to celebrate this.
The club lease the building from the Parish council on a full repairing lease and were looking to undertake further improvements to the facility.
As the Parish Council is the landlord, they have written to the council seeking permission to replace their existing windows and doors to improve the appearance of the building and improve security.
The club have also requested that if the Parish Council were agreeable to the proposal whether they would also consider making a contribution towards the cost of these works.
The club advised that the estimated cost is circa £4,600.
The Parish council currently makes provision within its repairs and renewal budget towards ongoing maintenance of the bowling green which will remain underspent this year. The green is maintained by volunteers from within the bowls club at a reduced cost (materials only) to what it would cost the council to maintain if they were to take on direct responsibility for the green.
Members were therefore requested to consider the following options.
a) Granting approval to the club to change the existing windows and doors.
b) Consider whether members wished to allocate some of the under spend from the current budget to the club to support the project. Members were advised that up to £1500 within existing budgets could be considered.
Members RESOLVED to:
Grant APPROVAL for the club to replace the current windows and doors with new UPVC units.
AGREED to the release the sum of £1,500 from the current Bowls Repair and Renewals budget to contribute towards the cost of the replacement windows and doors.
117.2 Insurance – The council’s contract is due to be expire at the end of May and is currently provided by Axa.
Members were requested to consider taking a similar approach to that taken previously by utilising a specialist insurance broker to take the councils insurance offer to market with an option to secure a three-year deal.
The council’s current broker Gallaghers (formerly Came & Company) managed our previous tender and it’s proposed to approach them to seek quotations from the market.
Members are requested to consider and approve this approach and the principle of entering into a term agreement for three years if possible.
The Clerk informed Members that the outcome of the exercise will then be brought back to council to consider.
Member’s views were sought.
Members considered the various options and expressed a preference to entering into a term agreement if possible and were supportive of the insurance offer being taken to market via the councils nominated specialist broker.
Therefore members RESOLVED to APPROVE the:
(i) Appointment of Gallaghers to take the Councils insurance offer to market and seek to enter into a term agreement with the insurance provider if viable.
(ii) The outcome of this exercise will be brought back to a future Council meeting for consideration.
117.3 Oak Tree – Talbot Field the Council commissioned a tree safety survey earlier in the year for Adastra Park, Parklands Copse and Talbot Field which identified a number of trees in the councils ownership that required further investigation.
The Council therefore commissioned an arboriculturist to undertake further testing which involved using pictus surveys (sonic tomograph) and test drillings to establish the density of the trunks of the trees in question. This survey revealed that only one tree, a mature oak sited in Talbot field which is in close proximity to the highway needed further management action.
The survey identified a level of decay within the trunk that could compromise its integrity therefore management action was required to be taken to mitigate this risk.
The Clerk shared copies of the pictus images together with photos of the tree to assist members in identifying the tree in question.
The Clerk advised that based on the report although four options were suggested, in light of the trees location the council realistically had limited options, other than to consider felling the tree in part due to its proximity to the highway.
The cost of these works are estimated to be around £2,500 which is above the funds held within the current Talbot field tree budget.
Members were therefore requested to note the content of the tree report and requested to release up to £2,500 from general reserves to fund these necessary works.
Members discussed and considered the content of the report together with the options and RESOLVED to APPROVE the release of up to £2,500 from General reserves to undertake the necessary tree works as soon as practical.
117.4 On-line Banking – the Council are proposing to operate an on-line bank account alongside its existing accounts with Barclays.
It was anticipated that the online account would be primarily used for the council’s day to day business transactions. It’s proposed that the on-line account will be provided by Unity Trust bank which specialises in parish council/charitable accounts and has a substantial portfolio of parish council clients.
Members were advised that to enable the Council to move over to this approach they will need to identify a pool of between four – six signatories therefore any signatories should be comfortable with using technology.
The Clerk indicated that some limited personal information would need to be provided to enable the bank to undertake identity confirmation checks.
Members RESOLVED to appoint and APPROVE the following signatories for the on-line account:
Cllrs Weir, Baker, Hatton, Simmons and Tester (five)
117.5 Queens Jubilee – At the last Council meeting it was agreed members explore the option of installing some additional planters within the village to mark the queen’s jubilee.
Three members (Cllrs Weir, Gaudencio and Bunting) have identified some potential locations subject to the appropriate permissions being obtained.
It is anticipated that up to three planters could be installed two additional planters outside Orion Parade and a third potentially constructed by the Monday group and sited near the village sign within the park.
When enquiring about the permissions required it was established that the council does not currently hold a licence for the existing planters in front of Orion parade. It’s understood these were originally supplied and installed by WSCC therefore this will also need to be addressed.
If members are minded to support the installation of additional planters in celebration of the Queens Jubilee funding will need to be allocated. At present no funds have been set aside for this initiative therefore funds would need to be released from general reserves.
It is anticipated that the scheme could cost circa £3,500 which will be influenced on the design of the planters / design motifs incorporated to recognise the jubilee event, installation, planting & ongoing maintenance thereon.
a) Members were therefore being asked to firstly approve the principle of installing some additional planters.
b) Determine the level of funds to be released from general reserves.
c) To determine the design of the planters and place the order for the supply.
d) To authorise the clerk to enter into a licence agreement on behalf of Hassocks Parish Council with WSCC to authorise the placement of the said planters together with the existing planters.
Cllr Weir advised members that the three members had walked the High Street looking at potential suitable locations to place some additional planters. Members were also informed that the Parish Council had previously installed the Rotunda to mark the Queens Silver Jubilee. A number of potential sites were identified initially, however the favoured site would be to place additional planters alongside those existing on the island outside Orion Parade.
Members discussed the process to obtain the necessary licences from WSCC and the need to formalise the arrangement with the existing planters and any additional planters. In light of the tight timescale members were suggesting that two additional planters should be installed outside Orion Parade and an additional planter constructed in the vicinity of the village sign located at the entrance to Adastra Park. The construction of this planter would be delivered via the Monday group and as sited on Parish Council land would not require a licence to be secured.
Members suggested that potential further sites such as Keymer Parade could be explored at a future point.
After careful consideration members RESOLVED to
a) AGREE the principle of installing additional planters to mark the Queen’s Jubilee.
b) APPROVE the release of up to £3,500 from general reserves to cover the cost of supply, design, installation of planters together with the planting and ongoing maintenance for 2022/23.
c) Members AGREED that the final design be determined by the three members leading the project (Cllr Weir, Gaudencio and Bunting).
d) AGREED to APPROVE the Clerk to enter into the necessary licence agreements with WSCC on behalf of the Council to install the planters.
PC21/118 URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – Cllr Simmons advised members that it is understood that some individuals from the village have left for Ukraine to support the current conflict.
PC21/119 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next Parish Council meeting is Tuesday 12th April 2022 at 7.30pm.