HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
To: All Members of the Policy, Resources and Communications Committee (Kate Bailey, Frances Gaudencio, Peter Gibbons, Sue Hatton, Ian Weir, David Hammond and Frank Rylance) with copies to all other Councillors for information
A virtual meeting of the POLICY, RESOURCES and COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE will be held on Tuesday 28 July 2020 at 2.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, and Hassocks.
Members of the public are encouraged to come to the meetings and there is an opportunity for them to address the Committee relating to the non-confidential items on the published agenda.
If you wish to attend, this virtual meeting please email the firstname.lastname@example.org before 4pm on 27 July to be sent an electronic invitation before 12.00 hrs on the 28 July.
Ian Cumberworth Parish Clerk 21 July 2020
2. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
To deal with any disclosure by Members of any disclosable pecuniary interests and interests other than pecuniary interests, as defined under Hassocks Parish Council’s Code of Conduct and the Localism Act 2011, in relation to matters on the agenda.
3.1 To accept Minutes of the Meeting held 23rd January 2020 (previously Circulated).
4. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
5. CLERK’S REPORTS
5.1 Financial accounts – Reserves the attached summary report sets out the current position regarding the Council earmarked reserves. (Please click here for Appendix 1).
5.2 Hassocks Parish Councils – Code of Conduct – The Council adopted its current Code of Conduct protocol in May 2015. Members are required to periodically review this code to ensure that it remains compliant with current guidance. The proposed protocol document attached is based on the Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) (May 2019 version) with the original version being based on the MSDC 2015 model. It is necessary for the Parish Council to review its current protocol to ensure it remains aligned with the MSDC version. Members are therefore requested to consider the proposed amendments which are highlighted in bold italics within the body of the code and RECOMMEND adoption of the amended code. (Please click here for Appendix 2).
The above matter was originally due to be considered at the March meeting that was cancelled due to the lockdown. Members are invited to consider the proposed minor amendments but should note that the Member Code of Conduct is currently being reviewed nationally and its out for consultation at present. Therefore it is likely members will be invited to reconsider a revised policy later in the year once the consultation process has been concluded.
5.3 Grants Scheme Members at full Council last year (PC83.2) requested that the Clerk develop a scheme with the option to enable grant applications to be considered twice during the year as opposed to the current arrangement of once a year and to review the current conditions. At present the conditions associated with Hassocks Parish Council grant applications and conditions are quite basic (please click here for Appendix 3), it is therefore proposed that Members consider strengthening these and consider the attached draft conditions and application form set out in Appendix 4/5 (please click here for Appendix 4. Please click here for Appendix 5) which would facilitate the option of considering applications twice during the year.
The document is based on a model document and amended to reflect the requirements of Hassocks Parish Council therefore Members are requested to consider the draft documents and assess whether they meet the needs of the Council with regards to the administration of the grants scheme.
The original intention was for this policy to be considered at the Policy & Resources Committee in March to enable any changes to be brought in this year however due to the ‘lockdown’ this matter was not possible to progress. Therefore any changes would now have to come into effect 2021/22.
5.4 Business Plan (verbal update)
5.5 Communications – (verbal update)
5.6 Email system – migration (verbal update)
6. Urgent Matters None.
7. DATE OF NEXT MEETING 15 September 2020
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.
8. STAFFING MATTERS – verbal update
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.
HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the POLICY, RESOURCES and COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE virtual meeting held on Tuesday 28 July 2020 at 2.30 pm
Attendees: Parish Councillors: Frances Gaudencio (Chair), Frank Rylance, Ian Weir, David Hammond.
Visiting members: None
Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
PRC20/01 APOLOGIES: Kate Bailey and Sue Hatton.
PRC20/02 DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS: None declared.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 23rd January 2020 as previously circulated were accepted.
PRC20/04 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
There were no members of the public present.
PRC20/05 CLERKS REPORT
20/05.1 Financial Accounts – Earmarked Reserves the Clerk introduced a report which set out the projected Earmarked Reserves position post the completion of the play area project in the sum of £84,111.
Members were advised that it may still be possible to allocate some of the savings realised from last year’s budget but it was suggested that due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding Covid 19 a prudent approach should be taken.
The Councils income streams are likely to continue to be affected with the ongoing pandemic and in particular if the anticipated second wave materialises.
Members sought confirmation that the balance set out in the summary table reflected the S106 funds to be returned to the Council in respect of the play areas. Clerk confirmed this was the case.
Members duly noted the position statement.
20/05.2 Hassocks Parish Council – Code of Conduct Members were advised that the Council was required to periodically review its Code of Conduct which was adopted by the Council in May 2015.
The document set out in the report papers had been amended to align with Mid Sussex District Councils and was originally due to be considered at the earlier Policy Resources & Communications Committee in March at around the time lockdown came into effect, therefore the meeting was required to be cancelled.
The suggested amendments were set out in bold italics in Appendix 2 of the agenda.
Members were requested to note that a new member’s code of conduct is being reviewed nationally and is out for consultation at the present time but it is likely to retain a significant number of the existing features within the current code.
Members were therefore requested to consider the proposed amendments to its existing code set out in the attached paper in the first instance.
Some members expressed concerns that it was not the easiest of documents to follow as it was written from a legalistic point of view but the consensus amongst members was that they were happy to accept the proposed amendments.
Members RESOLVED to AGREE the proposed changes set out in the Member Code of Conduct
20/05.3 Grants Scheme The Clerk informed members that currently organisations apply for grants annually which were normally considered by Council at its September meeting. Members had previously requested that the Council look at reviewing its current arrangements and explore the option of moving over to a twice yearly grant approach.
This report was initially scheduled to be considered at the Policy Resources & Communications Committee at its March meeting that was cancelled due to the pandemic therefore grants for this year will have to be considered under the existing regime with any changes brought in from next year.
The Councils current conditions of grant are very basic which were set out in Appendix 3 of the agenda.
A suggested approach was set out in Appendix 4 and 5 of the agenda with a view to strengthening the process and aligning applications to support the Councils objectives. Member’s views were sought on the proposed approach.
Members welcomed the revised conditions and application form design as they felt the Council should become more active in ensuring that funds were expended in line with the application and in particular the larger grant values and that the objectives were achieved.
Members confirmed that the funding should be linked in supporting the parish’s priorities. Members suggested an amendment to the application form relating to the section regarding the number of direct beneficiaries of the proposed project to be replaced with expected demographics of the beneficiaries. Subject to the above amendment members RESOLVED to APPROVE the revised grant conditions and application to be introduced for the 2021/22 grant funding round.
20/05.4 Business Plan Cllr Gaudencio introduced this item as it was felt that the Policy Resources and Communications Committee should have responsibility for the oversight of the plan and to review progress from time to time and to consider the impact of Covid 19. Members felt that it would be beneficial for the Committee to continue to review the plan from time to time
It was acknowledged that a number of the work streams have continued during the lockdown period. It was concluded that further work will need to be undertaken to revisit some of prioritisation and funding to support some of the initiatives The Clerk indicated that the largest of the current financial phases of the plan are due to be completed with the pending completion of the play area contract.
When reviewing the plan and determining priorities members will need to have regard for funding streams available to deliver the projects.
It was agreed that the plan would be revisited by Cllr Gaudencio, Cllr Weir and the Clerk with a view to coming back to this committee with a further report setting out any proposed amendments to the plan for consideration at a future point.
20/05.5 Communication Cllr Gaudencio introduced this standing item on the agenda and indicated that she was keen to draft an item for publication setting out what the Council has been doing and continue to deliver throughout the lockdown and post lockdown periods.
The Clerk indicated that he will also need to generate an item on the pending opening of the play areas and the need for users to heed the additional guidance to enable the play areas to be reopened incorporating the government guidance. Members discussed the reopening of the play areas and the government guidelines and all were supportive of opening of the new facilities with the additional guidance.
Cllr Gaudencio sought member’s views on how they found virtual meetings and the use of Zoom. Members were generally very positive about its use and the way in which the Council had implemented its introduction, some members indicated that the use of virtual meetings had in fact provided greater focus on the content of the meetings. The Clerk indicated that he felt virtual meetings will continue to be needed for the foreseeable future.
20/05.6 Email system – migration the Clerk confirmed that all Councillors have now migrated successfully over to the new email system although some difficulty was encountered by some initially.
Cllr Gaudencio sought member’s views as to how they felt the new system was operating. All members present felt that it was good and it was also noted that when accepting virtual meeting invites it would automatically import this information into the calendar.
Some members have set the email system up so that they are notified when new emails arrive whereas others review the account periodically to pick up emails.
PRC20/06 Urgent Matters. There were no urgent matters.
PRC20/07 DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 15th September 2020
PRC20/08 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.