HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
To: All Members of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee (Frances Gaudencio, Kate Bailey, Sue Hatton, Frank Rylance and Ian Weir) with copies to all other Councillors for information.
A virtual meeting of the POLICY RESOURCES & COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE will be held on TUESDAY 2 March at 7.30pm.
Parish Clerk 24 February2021
1. TO ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE.
2. TO ACCEPT DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST.
3. MINUTES to accept the Minutes of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee held on 19 January 2021. (Previously Circulated)
4. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
5. Budget Position
The purpose of this report is to update the Committee on the budget position for 2020/2021 and the potential to allocate further funds to Earmarked Reserves to support the Councils priorities which have been identified as part of the Business Planning process.
Financial Accounts Budget – 1 February 2020 provides a detailed position as per the RBS finance system and is produced for information in Appendix 1. To read Appendix 1 please click here.
The attached report sets out the following detail:
- Annual spend/income to date
- 2020/21 budget
- Variance (difference between spend and budget to date – Expenditure and Income)
- Balance of budget
- % spent to date
The pandemic has impacted significantly on the business activities of the Council over the last year not only in respect of expenditure but also the miscellaneous income streams of the Council. However despite these challenging circumstances the Council has managed to deliver a significant capital project in this current financial year.
The detailed budget variances are set out in Appendix 1 which summarises the current position against each of the respective budget descriptors.
A number of these budgets are likely to remain underutilised prior to the yearend. Members may therefore wish to consider taking the opportunity to allocate some of these funds which are likely to return to General reserves to reallocate funds to Earmarked reserves to support future Council initiatives.
Appendix 2 details some of the expected larger variances projected for the year end which members could utilise together with a narrative to explain the main rationale for the variance.
These projections have taken into consideration anticipated committed expenditure up until the end of the financial year although the Council has yet to be invoiced.
A summary of the key income streams impacted are also set out together with details of some additional external revenue sources secured in the financial year to support Council commitments .
This has included s106 funding from both Mid Sussex District Council and West Sussex County Council to support the delivery of improvements within Adastra Park and the Parking scheme respectively and a central government Covid support grant which has been utilised to support IT provision to facilitate remote working/resilience and offset some of the lost miscellaneous revenue. The majority of funds for the park improvements were realised from the Parish Councils own Earmarked reserved.
It is good practice to periodically make provisions within reserves to support ongoing/future initiatives and ring fence an element of reserves (Earmarked) to support these schemes. However sufficient levels of unallocated reserves (general reserves) should be retained to meet unforeseen running costs/expenditure.
Members are requested to consider allocating up to say £35,000 prior to the year end and then allocate these funds to specific schemes in the new financial year in line with the Councils business plan.
6. BUSINESS PLAN (verbal update)
7. COMMUNICATIONS (verbal update)
8. SAFEGUARDING POLICY.
Members are requested to consider whether they wish to establish a wider safeguarding policy/protocol for the Council. The Council already has arrangements in place with respect of hirers/users of facilities within the park which forms part of the formal hire agreements.
Safeguarding children and child protection
All organisations that work with or come into contact with children should have safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure that every child, regardless of their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, has a right to equal protection from harm.
Setting up and following good safeguarding policies and procedures means children are safe from adults and other children who might pose a risk. This includes voluntary and community organisations, faith groups, private sector providers, as well as schools, hospitals and sports clubs.
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding means:
Protecting children from abuse and maltreatment
Preventing harm to children’s health or development
Ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
Taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes.
Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. This includes child protection procedures which details how to respond to concerns about a child.
“Protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances.”
Hassocks Parish Safeguarding Policy should cover areas such as
- What we expect from Members, Officers, Contractors, Volunteers and those commissioned by the Council to provide a service.
- Who to report incidences to at the Parish Council and what is the reporting chain in the Local Authority.
- What records will be kept and who will keep them.
- Who is the lead Member for Safeguarding (Named Person) at the Parish Council.
An example model document is set out as Appendix 3 which members could consider adapting to meet the needs of the Council. Member’s views are sought.
9. URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
10. DATE OF NEXT MEETING. Tuesday 20 April 2021 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 present they will be requested to withdraw from the meeting.
11. Confidential Minutes – To agree the confidential minutes of the meeting held on 17th November 2020 (previously circulated) which were held over from the previous meeting in January for consideration.
12. Staffing Matters (verbal update)
All members of the public are welcome 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.
If you wish to attend this virtual meeting please email firstname.lastname@example.org before 09.00 hrs on the day of the meeting to be sent an electronic invitation by 12.00 noon on that same day.
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.
KEY VARIANCES IN BUDGET
|Suggested allocation transferred to EMR
|Staff – all staff
|Council retained vacancy on establishment therefore budget not fully utilised
|Due to the curtailment of training courses and the move over to virtual training at significantly reduced costs budget was underspent
|Due to pandemic event cancelled
|Burial Ground – Repairs & Renewals
|Improvement scheme deferred
|Parish Centre Garage Building Maintenance Contracts
|Works required to be deferred in addition reduced usage of the building
|Grounds & Machinery
|Reduced usage of facilities
|Pavilion – Building Maintenance Contract
|Due to closure some contracts were suspended
|Adastra Park Grounds – R & R
|Decrease in use of pitches due to lock down.
|Grounds Maintenance contracts
|Reduction in frequency of works due to Covid restrictions
|Adastra Play Equipment – R&R
|New equipment installed 20/21
|Bowling Green – R & R
|Reduction in works required due to reduced usage – Covid restrictions
|Service from MSDC ceased
|No expenditure required as plan adopted early 2020
REVENUE STREAMS IMPACTED BY COVID
|REDUCTION IN REVENUE BUDGET
|Venue closed throughout financial year therefore no revenue generated
|Reduced revenue to curtailment of usage due to the pandemic
|To be confirmed
ADDITIONAL FUNDING SECURED 2020/21 FROM EXTERNAL SOURCES
|S106 funds from MSDC secured to support park improvements
|S106 funds from WSCC secured to part fund implementation of Phase 2 Parking scheme.
|Covid Support Grant – funds utilised to upgrade IT to facilitate remote working in response to the pandemic with any balance used to offset the loss of miscellaneous revenue streams
Safeguarding Policy 20xx/xx
Everyone has a duty to safeguard children, young people and vulnerable adults.
This policy promotes good practice in safeguarding for those using Parish Council facilities.
The Parish Council will review it annually.
Children and young people:
Anyone under the age of 18 years
Anyone over 18 who is:
- Unable to care for themselves
- Unable to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation
- Or may be in need of community care services
To whom this policy applies
This policy applies to anyone working for or on behalf of the Parish Council whether in a paid, voluntary or commissioned capacity, for example contracted to do a piece of work.
It also applies to any individual hiring, leasing or using the Parish Council facilities for the purpose of delivering any service to children, young people or vulnerable adults.
Promoting a safe environment
In order to promote a safe environment for children, young people and vulnerable adults, the Parish Council will:
- Provide safe facilities and do regular safety assessments.
- Ensure that employees, councillors and leaders of activities in parish facilities, are aware of the safeguarding expectations.
- Members of staff who have regular unsupervised contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults during the course of their duties MUST undergo appropriate Disclosure and Barring Service checks BEFORE commencement of such duties.
- Display on notice boards in xx & xx the relevant safeguarding contacts for advice and help. A copy will also be made available of the Parish Council website.
Hiring of facilities to groups for use with children, young people or vulnerable adults
Parish Council will require the hirer to:
- Have public liability insurance.
- Have a suitable safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults policy and/or agree to work to the Parish Council’s policy and relevant guidance.
- Ensure leaders make their members aware of the Parish Council Policy and ensure that it is followed whilst using parish facilities.
- Ensure leaders have valid enhanced DBS checks as appropriate and know where the first aid box is and how to summon help from the Parish Office or Emergency Services.
- Do risk assessments for individual activities.
Safe working practice
All users of Parish Facilities must follow the safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults policy and procedures at all times. For example they should:
- Never leave children, young people or vulnerable adults unattended with adults who have not been subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
- Plan activities to involve more than one person being present or at least in sight or hearing of others. Alternatively, record, or inform others of their whereabouts and intended action.
- Where possible, have male and female leaders working with a mixed group.
- Ensure registers are complete and attendees are marked in and signed out (under 8’s must be collected by a parent/carer).
- Ensure that photos or videos of individuals are not taken without written permission from their parents/carers.
- Ensure they have access to a first aid kit and telephone and know fire procedures.
- When working outside, ensure activities, breaks and clothing are suitable for the weather conditions and that shelter is available where possible.
Expectations of behaviour
All users of Parish Facilities should:
- Ensure that communications, behaviour and interaction with users should be appropriate and professional.
- Adhere to the instructions of Parish employed staff.
- Treat each other with respect and show consideration for other groups using the facilities.
- Refrain from any behaviour that involves racism, sexism and bullying and in addition to report any instances of such behaviour to the Parish Manager or parents/carers, as appropriate. The Parish Manager will then decide the next course of action required, if any.
Allegations against staff and volunteers
- All staff and volunteers should take care not to place themselves in a vulnerable position with a child or vulnerable adult. It is advisable for interviews or work with individual children or parents to be conducted in view of other adults where possible.
- If an allegation is made against a member of staff or volunteer, the person receiving the allegation will immediately inform the Parish Clerk. The Parish Clerk will then inform the Staffing Panel. (If the allegation made to a member of staff concerns the Parish Manager the recipient of the allegation will immediately inform a member of the Parish Councils Staffing Panel).
- The Parish council should follow the procedures for managing allegations against staff/volunteers. No attempt should be made to investigate or take action before consultation with the xxxxx Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). See contact details below.
xxxx Office xxxx xxxxxx or email xxxx
All Parish staff and volunteers should be aware of their duty to raise concerns about the attitude or actions of colleagues and appropriate advice will be sought from the xxxx or Safeguarding Team as to how to handle such allegations. The Parish Council must not make a judgement on whether the allegations have merit for further investigation, this decision must be for xxxx.
What should be a cause for concern
Staff and volunteers should be concerned by any action or inaction, which significantly harms the physical and/or emotional development of a child. Abuse falls into four main categories and can include child sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation, referred to as FGM. The categories are as follows:
- Physical Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Financial Abuse/Manipulation
The Parish Council are committed to ensuring the safety of all users of our services and facilities and take our responsibilities seriously.
The Parish Council confirm this safeguarding policy will be updated as and when such legislative/best practice changes take place or at least annually.
Minutes of the POLICY, RESOURCES and COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE virtual meeting held on Tuesday 2 March 2021 at 19.30 pm
Attendees: Parish Councillors: Frances Gaudencio, Ian Weir, Sue Hatton, Frank Rylance and Kate Bailey.
Other: Cllr Carolyn Barton
Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
PRC20/37 APOLOGIES: None:
PRC20/38 DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS: None declared.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 19th January 2021 as previously circulated were accepted by members as a true and fair record.
PRC20/40 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
There were no members of the public present.
PRC20/41 CLERKS REPORT
20/41.1 Budget Position. The Clerk introduced the paper which set out the budget outturn position as at 1st February 2021. Appendix 1 summarised the detailed cost centres together with details of:
- Expenditure to date
- The budget
- Remaining funds available
Members were advised that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the council’s business activities both from an expenditure and income perspective. The Clerk indicated that he would be happy to go through individual codes in detail if members wished, but in the first instance drew member’s attention to Appendix 2 which summarised some of the larger variances within the respective cost centres together with a brief narrative explaining the rationale of the variance.
This document also set out variances in respect of miscellaneous income and detailed additional income streams secured by the Council in the current financial year.
The Clerk confirmed that these budgets were likely to remain underutilised prior to the yearend and members may wish to consider taking the opportunity to allocate some of these funds to earmarked reserves to support ongoing/future priorities rather than simply returning them to unallocated general reserves at this time.
If members were minded to take this approach it is suggested that they are allocated to a generic descriptor e.g. Business Plan and allocate these out to specific schemes in the new financial year once the wider Council membership have had the opportunity to consider priorities.
Members sought clarification on a number of the descriptors in respect of both expenditure and revenue which the clerk responded to including clarification on some of the narrative within Appendix 2 which they were content with.
In response to a member question the Clerk clarified that although there was an item later on the agenda in respect of the Business Plan which would be used to inform the priorities it was likely to be better for the wider membership to have the opportunity to review the refreshed document and consider the priorities when seeking to allocate funds. A number of members referenced new initiatives that were currently evolving which could be considered as part of this process as they may form part of finalised plan. Members were satisfied with the proposed approach.
Members questioned whether there may be other funds able to be utilised at the year end, the Clerk indicated that he had taken a prudent approach at this point but there may be scope once the final outturn is known for some further sums to be considered which can be revisited at a later point.
Members thanked the Clerk for the report and after careful consideration RESOLVED to APPROVE the allocation of £35,000 from General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves to support initiatives within the Business Plan with the detailed allocation to occur in the new financial year.
20/41.2 The Clerk drew Members attention to code 180 Adastra Park grounds 4650 Biffa waste, and were advised that the cost of this service was normally shared 50/50 with the Adastra Hall, however the hall had been closed pretty much throughout the year. The park has been heavily used in the last year and generated larger volumes of waste therefore members views were sought as to whether for the current financial year the cost of the service should be borne solely by the Council as the hall have not received the benefit of the service. Members were advised that this would result in a small overspend but could be absorbed.
Members indicated that they were comfortable with this approach and RESOLVED to AGREE that the Council meet the full cost for this financial year due to the circumstances involved.
20/41.3 Business Plan A background paper had been distributed prior to this evenings meeting which had been drafted by Cllr Weir setting out the revised format of the document in a traffic light style.
Cllr Weir shared his screen and Members were taken through this document on screen detailing the revised layout and presentation. Members welcomed the revised format and presentation of the information which enabled the clear identification of progress on the various work streams to date.
Members were advised that further work is scheduled to be undertaken by Cllr Weir and Cllr Gaudencio in the near future to agree the final format for publication and a number of new/refreshed initiatives are currently progressing through the Committee cycle that may feed into the plan. Members noted the progress on the plan.
(Cllr S Hatton left the meeting at 8.01pm)
20/41.4 Communications members were advised that an article was scheduled to appear in the forthcoming publication of ‘Hassocks Life’ regarding the Councils website.
Members discussed a recent instance where a member had not fully complied with the Communications Policy when publicising a communication as a Councillor, therefore it was agreed that the Member would be reminded of the need to comply with this policy in any future Communications. Cllr Weir undertook to raise this issue.
20/41.5 Safeguarding Policy This item had been held over from the previous meeting.
Members were requested to review the current arrangements in place in respect of safeguarding. The council is generally not directly involved in organising/running events therefore direct contact to any degree is limited. The council already has as part of their hire conditions that all organisations using the council’s facilities are required to have suitable safeguarding policies in place and designated officers.
All clubs using the council’s facilities via their sporting affiliations are required to have safeguarding arrangements in place which includes:
- Junior football/senior football
- Stool ball
- Junior cricket/senior cricket
Members were advised that most of the organised activity sessions held within the park occur when council staff/members would not be present on site.
An example policy was produced as appendix 3 for members to assist discussion that could be adapted for use by the Council if members so wished. A detailed discussion was held regarding the level of detail needed within any policy and it was felt that it should be proportionate to the needs of the organisation and its activities. Members felt that the example set in Appendix 3 was probably not suitable for the Councils needs in its current form at this time
Members acknowledged the existing arrangements already in place but felt that further elements could be incorporated into a single document summarising expectations from staff/Members, reporting lines and records to be maintained. Members felt there was benefit in codifying this process to facilitate succession planning.
Members requested the Clerk to draft an appropriate concise document and bring back to the Committee for further consideration.
PRC20/42 Urgent Matters. None.
PRC20/43 DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 20th April 2021. Members agreed to commence this meeting at 6pm
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 present they will be requested to withdraw from the meeting.
PRC20/44 Confidential minutes of the Meeting held on 17th November 2020 as previously circulated were accepted by members as a true and fair record.
PRC20/45 Staffing Matters Members were informed that the team were continuing to have to work a combination of home and office working. As staff are currently required to work in single cell offices a maximum of two officers are able to work onsite at any one time.
Members were advised that it was not yet known when and if the team will be able to return to normal working arrangements post easing of lockdown measures, but further modifications of the office environment may be required to enable more than one officer to work in a single office at any one time.
This current ongoing arrangement does impact on some of the processes and time taken to deliver services.
At present the primary focus for staff is working towards year end close down.
In addition the team are carrying out work on the content of the website to improve its accessibility which is resulting in a number of documents having to be reformatted which is proving more time consuming than anticipated. This task will be ongoing and will require some work on historical records to convert.
Members thanked the team for all the work being undertaken.