HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
To: All Members of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee (Ian Weir, Kate Bailey, Carolyn Barton and Claire Tester) with copies to all other Councillors for information.
A meeting of the POLICY RESOURCES & COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE will be held on TUESDAY 6th September 2022 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Parish Clerk 30 August 2022
1. TO ACCEPT APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
2. TO ACCEPT DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
3. ELECTION OF CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR
4. MINUTES to accept the Minutes of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee held on 30th November 2021. (Previously Circulated).
5. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
6. Budget Position
The purpose of this report is to update the Committee on the budget position for 2022/2023
Financial Accounts Budget – 5 August 2022 provides a detailed position as per the RBS finance system and is produced for information in Appendix 1. To view Appendix 1 please click here.
The attached report sets out the following detail:
- Annual spend /income to date
- 2022/23 budget
- Variance (difference between spend and budget to date – Expenditure and Income)
- Balance of budget
- % spent to date
Members are requested to note the report.
Member’s views are sought
8. Internal Auditor 2022/23 To consider the letter of engagement (Appendix 3) (to view Appendix 3 please click here) which proposes the appointment for Mulberry & Co to act as the Councils Internal Auditor next for the current financial year.
Member’s views are sought.
9. Introducing the Civility and Respect Pledge
The Council has recently received correspondence via the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) and the National Association of Local Council (NALC) encouraging authorities to consider signing up to this voluntary code.
The SLCC and the NALC, believe now is the time to put civility and respect at the top of the agenda and start a culture change for the local council sector as this appears to be an ongoing issue within the sector.
‘There is no place for bullying, harassment, and intimidation within our sector and signing up to the Civility and Respect Pledge is one of the ways a council can demonstrate that it is committed to standing up to poor behaviour across our sector, and to demonstrating positive changes which support civil and respectful conduct.’
By signing the Pledge, your council is agreeing that it will treat councillors, clerks, employees, members of the public, and representatives of partner organisations and volunteers with civility and respect in their roles, and that it:
- has put in place a training programme for councillors and staff
- has signed up to the Code of Conduct for councillors
- has good governance arrangements in place including staff contracts and a Dignity at Work policy
- will seek professional help at early stages should civility and respect issues arise
- will commit to calling out bullying and harassment if and when it happens
- will continue to learn from best practice in the sector and aspire to being a role model / champion council e.g., via Local Council Award Scheme
- supports the continued lobbying for change in legislation to support the civility and respect, including sanctions for elected members where appropriate’
Although the pledge has no formal weight, it sets out the organisations statement of intention to maintain strong ethical standards. (Appendix 4/5) (To view Appendix 4 please click here) (To view Appendix 5 please click here) sets out a model pledge statements which members are requested to consider.
10. URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
11. DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 29th November 2022
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.
12. Staffing matters (Appendix 6).
All members of the public are welcome to attend meetings of the Parish Council and its Committees.
Item 5 – 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.
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.
HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the meeting of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee held on 6th September 2022 at 7.30pm in Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks
Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir, Claire Tester, Frances Gaudencio (substitute member).
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
PRC22/01 APOLOGIES Cllrs, Kate Bailey, Carolyn Barton (substitute sent).
PRC22/02 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.
PRC22/03 ELECTION OF CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR
The Clerk advised that in light of 50% of this committees members had sent there apologies for the evenings meeting it was proposed to hold over the election of Chair and Vice Chair until the next meeting. A volunteer was therefore sought from the members present to act as the chair for the evenings meeting. Cllr Weir indicated he would be happy to take up the role which was duly supported and approved by all members present.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 30th November 2021 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
PRC22/05 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No members of the public were present.
PRC22/06 BUDGET POSITION The report was produced for members information and set out the position as at the 5th of August 2022 although, it was clarified that due to the lag from payment to transactions being processed onto the ledger there may be some expenditure incurred prior to the report date that is not reflected in the detailed report.
Members then proceeded to ask a series of questions on specific expenditure headings which the clerk responded to including those relating to energy costs. The clerk indicated that although allowance had been factored into the budget for energy costs it was unlikely to cover the level of increases currently being seen, however the parish would be in a position to fund any increased costs. The clerk indicated that one of the larger energy cost elements related to the street lighting which formed part of a long term PFI agreement let by WSCC but he was unsure whether the energy supplied/recharged to the Council was tied into a long term supply agreement with WSCC or not. Normally the Council is advised of potential increases in advance by WSCC however the Clerk undertook to contact county to establish the status of the energy supply element of this contract.
Members duly noted the report.
Members were content with the content of the existing policy and APPROVED the development of a Cookie/GDPR banner for the Councils website.
PRC22/08 INTERNAL AUDITOR ENGAGEMENT LETTER – Members were requested to consider the appointment of Mulberry & Co to act as the Councils Internal Auditor for the current financial year.
Members APPROVED the appointment of Mulberry & Co to act as the Councils internal audit for the financial year 2022/23.
PRC22/09 CIVILITY & RESPECT PLEDGE – The Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) are encouraging authorities to sign up to the draft code set out in Appendix 5 of the agenda. Members were advised that nationally harassment and bullying seems to be an ongoing issue within the sector which has resulted in high turnover of staff. Although the voluntary code has no real standing they are seeking to get as many authorities to sign up to the code to encourage good, strong ethical standards within the council sector environment.
Members enquired whether any of the Councils existing policies covered these elements. They were advised the Protocol on Member/Officer Relations – Dignity of Work Policy already covered some of the elements being raised within the new pledge.
Members were supportive of the code in principle and the clarity it brought to certain scenarios but before determining whether to sign up to the pledge they requested that the Clerk undertake a comparison of the elements covered by the Councils existing policy to see whether they are already addressed or whether they could be enhanced by incorporating elements of the pledge within the document.
The Clerk AGREED to undertake this piece of work and to come forward with a proposal at a future Policy Resources & Communications Committee for consideration.
PRC22/10 URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – Consideration will need to be given as to how the level of membership for the Policy Resources & Communications Committee can be increased to improve its resilience to ensure that it continues to be quorate which at present can be challenging to achieve. Cllr Weir indicated that he would raise this issue at full council.
PRC22/11 DATE OF NEXT MEETING. Tuesday 29th November 2022.