HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
To: All Members of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee (Ian Weir, Kate Bailey, Carolyn Barton, Claire Tester, David Bunting and Dan Sewell) with copies to all other Councillors for information.
A meeting of the POLICY RESOURCES & COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE will be held on TUESDAY 29 November 2022 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Parish Clerk 22 November 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 6 September 2022. (Previously Circulated)
5. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
6. DRAFT BUDGET 2022/23
The attached paper set out as (Appendix 1) details of the draft budget proposal for 2023/24. Members are requested to consider the contents of the report and determine whether the draft budget proposal should be forwarded to Council for consideration and make any recommendations regarding the level of proposed precept for 2023/24. To view Appendix 1 please click here.
To view Appendix A please click here.
7. COMMUNICATIONS (verbal update)
8. URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 17 January 2023
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.
10. Minutes to accept the confidential minutes of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee held on the 6th September 2022 (previously circulated)
11. Staffing Matters (Appendix 2)
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 29th November 2022 at 7.30pm in Parish Centre, Adastra Park, and Hassocks
Attendees: Parish Councillors Ian Weir, Claire Tester, Carolyn Barton, Kate Bailey, David Bunting and Dan Sewell.
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
As no Chair had been previously appointed the Clerk sought a volunteer from the members present to Chair the evening meeting – Cllr Weir indicated he was prepared to Chair the meeting. All members were in agreement and Cllr Weir was duly appointed to Chair the meeting
PRC22/14 APOLOGIES none
PRC22/15 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.
PRC22/16 ELECTION OF CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR
Members RESOLVED that this decision should be held over to a future meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 6th September 2022 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
PRC22/18 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No members of the public were present.
PRC22/19 BUDGET POSITION
Cllr Weir first sought confirmation from all members present that they have had the opportunity to read the budget report.
Cllr Weir then invited the Clerk to take members through the report
The Clerk introduced the report and advised Members that the paper published in Appendix 1 set out a draft budget proposal for 2023/24 together with a summary of the projected out turn for the current financial year 2022/23.
The Clerk then took members through each section of the report in turn, the introduction within the report (page 2) set out considerations that had been taken into account in determining the budget proposal.
Members were invited to view pages 4 and 5 of the report which summarised the income and expenditure for 2022/23 (projected out turn) and a proposed budget for 2023/24.
The report set out the impact of both revenue expenditure (day to day expenditure) and reserves used to support the council’s priorities.
To provide an illustration for members the Clerk indicated that if the Council chose to retain the current level of precept and accepted the budget proposal it would return a surplus budget of £15,135 for 2023/24 and this was illustrated in the table set out on page 7 of the report.
If members were minded to accept the proposal, due to the increase in the property base for a band D equivalent property the annual Council Tax bill would reduce from £86.46 to £84.93 which is equivalent to a reduction of -1.77% (£1.53) per annum.
The property base for Hassocks for Council tax purposes in the last year has increased from 3,612 to 3,677 which represents an increase of 65 band D equivalent properties.
Members were then referred to Appendix A within the report (page 11) that provided a summary of the impact on all Council Tax bands payments if members chose to retain the existing level of precept.
The Clerk advised members that as part of the budget setting process he had attempted to provide some narrative in respect of some of the key variances in the current budget (22/23) and suggested options/initiatives for 2023/24 which were set out on page 6 of the report.
The Clerk informed Members that he did not propose to go through each income/expenditure item line by line but would be happy to take any questions members may have on some of the proposals.
Members raised a number of queries regarding the table set out on page 4 of the report which the Clerk responded to. The Clerk highlighted that at the time of preparation of the report note 4 in relation to the Burial ground it was suggested that a provision of up to £30,000 be set aside for this initiative that remains one of the priorities within the business plan. It was proposed that this would be represented by returning the unspent revenue allocation (22/23) and allocating an additional £15,000 from General reserves to Earmarked reserves to support this project. Members sought confirmation whether this allocation remained sufficient. The Clerk advised they had gone out to market earlier in the year where costs received were significantly above the original allocation therefore the scheme was unable to progress. A recent quotation received indicates that a further £5,000 – £10,000 would be required in addition to the current proposal in the report.
Members expressed the view they would support the transfer from General reserves. The Clerk confirmed this could be achieved without impacting on the precept requirement.
The Clerk advised members that the Council is in a sound financial position and the current unallocated General reserves are at a level where members should consider reallocating some of these funds to Earmarked Reserves to support the ongoing priorities of the Council prior to the current year end. (22/23).
A proposal for members to consider was set out in section 6 (page 9) which acknowledges initiatives recently raised/discussed by the Grounds & Environment Committee. The Clerk indicated that if members were supportive of the proposal this could be achieved without impacting on the precept and reduce the general reserves to a more manageable level. The Clerk provided further clarification on the reserves set out in section 5 of the report which illustrated a £15,135 surplus budget would be realised if the proposals were accepted as published.
The Clerk reaffirmed that the table set out on page 7 illustrated the impact on reserves if the precept were to be retained at current levels and if members approved the initial allocation of General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves to support the initiatives recently identified and supported at Grounds and Environment Committee.
Members indicated they were supportive of transferring funds from General Reserves to Earmarked Reserves as set out in the report to support the priorities of the Council.
The Clerk indicated that since the production of this paper further information had been received which members would be invited to consider. The first item related to the increased costs associated with the burial ground path network which had been discussed earlier in the meeting requiring additional funding. The second item related to a recent request from the Twinning association requesting the Council to make a financial contribution towards supporting the 30th Anniversary event scheduled to be hosted in Hassocks in May next year. Historically the Parish Council has provided some financial support for the Association.
In the current budget proposal being considered by members no provision has been made at this current time. The association have requested that the Council consider contributing up to £4,000 for this event.
Members were advised that if they were minded to approve the allocation request although not impacting directly on the precept requirement it would reduce the current projected budget surplus from £15,135 to £11,135.
Members discussed the merits of this request in detail and indicated that they would support the allocation of some funding to the event subject to receiving a presentation from the association to enable members to make an informed decision as to the level of any support to be provided.
The Clerk indicated that the association have indicated that they would be happy to present to a future meeting.
The Clerk informed members that the proposed visit was scheduled from the 18th – 21st May 2023. Members were reminded that next year was an election year with the election scheduled for Thursday 4th May 2023. On this basis for the Council to meet the statutory timeframes the ‘new’ parish council would not be formed/approved until 16th May at the earliest which is 2 days prior to the planned visit.
Members indicated that they would be prepared to propose a provision of up to £4,000 in principle but this would be subject to the association satisfying Council members as how the funds are to be utilised who would then determine the level of any contribution.
The Committee requested that the clerk approach the association and invite them to present to members of full council prior to any decision to release funds.
PRC22/19.1 After careful consideration of the proposed budget requirements Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to full Council not to increase the Precept but to retain at the current level of £312,302.
PRC22/19.2 Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND the proposed additional allocations within the report from General Reserves prior to the year end to Earmarked Reserves to support the Councils ongoing priorities.
PRC22/19.3 Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND the following additional amendments to the initial proposal for Council to consider:
i) To allocate an additional sum of up to £10,000 from general reserves to earmarked reserves in respect of the Burial Ground Path.
ii) To allocate a £4,000 provision within the revenue budget towards the Twinning anniversary event (23/24) subject to members agreeing the final level of any contribution post presentation from the Twinning association.
The Clerk confirmed that neither of these amendments would impact on the level of precept but would reduce the surplus budget sum to £11,135, therefore members requested that the Clerk reflect these proposed amendments in the report to be taken forward to Council for consideration.
PRC22/20 COMMUNICATIONS The Clerk provided a verbal update. A number of items have been published in Hassocks Life in respect of developing the Priorities Statement. In November a two page flyer was published promoting an online event and a one page introduction on the Priorities statement and a four page pull out questionnaire is scheduled to appear in the December edition.
Members were advised that due to the number of items published over the year it is anticipated that the current budget of £1,250 will be exceeded this year. It was also confirmed that communications published are also publicised on the Parishes Website, Facebook and Twitter.
The Clerk informed members that the Policy Resources & Communications Committee had previously discussed the format of the Annual Parish meeting and enquired whether members had any views on this and how the Parish could engage more effectively with the community. Members were also reminded that when considering any plans they would also have to have regard to it being an election year in May 2023.
There followed an extended discussion on options that might be explored and how the Council could promote its work more effectively Cllr Sewell offered to lead on this initiative which would be discussed initially by full council.
PRC22/21 URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – none
PRC22/22 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next as Tuesday 17th January 2023 at 7.30pm
PRC22/23 Confidential Minutes – The confidential minutes of the meeting held on the 6th September 2022 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.