HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
To: All Members of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee (Ian Weir, Kate Bailey, Carolyn Barton, David Bunting, Dan Sewell, Don McBeth and Paul Shepherd) with copies to all other Councillors for information.
A meeting of the POLICY RESOURCES & COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE will be held on TUESDAY 18th July 2023 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Parish Clerk 12 July 2023
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 6th June 2023. (Previously Circulated).
5. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
6. Investment Policy The Council adopted the attached policy in November 2018 and it was agreed that this would be reviewed at the last Policy Resources & Communications Committee prior to considering placing some of the Councils reserves in ‘higher ‘earning interest earning accounts.
As a public authority holding public funds it is important that all reasonable steps are taken to protect funds therefore investments should only be made in mainstream UK based financial institutions.
Members are requested to review the existing document and determine whether they wish to make any further amendments or approve its ongoing adoption. (Appendix 1).
8. Equalities Policy – The Council is required to review its suite of policies periodically and a number of policies will come forward to this committee for consideration throughout this year as part of this process. Members are requested to review the proposed policy attached which is based on a model document and confirm that they agree the contents and approve its adoption. (Appendix 2).
9. Communications (verbal update).
10. URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
11. DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 5th September 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.
11. Minutes to accept the confidential minutes of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee held on the 6th June 2023 (previously circulated).
12. Staffing matters (verbal update).
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
1.1 This policy sets out the treasury management procedures for the monitoring of the cash flow and banking arrangements of Hassocks Parish Council.
1.2 Authority reference is set out in the council’s Financial Regulations. ((FR.5 & FR.12)
1.3 The Local Government Act 2003 Section 12 provides the power to invest (a) for any purpose relevant to its functions under any enactment or (b) for the purpose of the prudent management of its financial affairs. Section 15(1) of the Act requires a local authority to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
1.4 The council acknowledges its duty of care to the community and the prudent investment of funds.
2.1 The council’s priorities are, in the following ranking order:
(i) The security of capital to minimise the risk of losses.
(ii) The liquidity of investments to meet the cash flow needs of the council.
(iii) Maximising income within the framework of the national economic situation.
2.2 The council will aim to achieve a reasonable rate of return on investments commensurate with adequate safeguards of security and liquidity.
3.1 All investment and deposits will be with UK registered banks or building societies.
3.2 All investments, deposits and interest will be in £ sterling.
3.3 Investments for current expenditure will be on instant access deposit accounts with a daily feeder to the current account.
3.4 Investments not required for current expenditure i.e. the general reserve may be placed on longer term deposits of up to 2 years.
3.5 Investments not required for current expenditure i.e. earmarked reserves may be placed on medium term deposits not exceeding 1 year.
3.6 In order to spread the financial risk to a minimum, investments will be made with a minimum of 2 financial institutions.
3.7 The credit ratings (Moody’s) of the institutions will be a minimum of ‘A’ and these will be monitored regularly.
3.8 The management of this policy will be by the Clerk / RFO and reported to each Council meeting.
4.1 This policy will be reviewed by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee on an annual basis. Any variation to the policy will be submitted to the Council for approval.
HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY POLICY
Types of unlawful discrimination
Equal opportunities in employment
Dignity at work
People not employed by the council
Monitoring and review
The council is committed to providing equal opportunities in employment and to avoiding unlawful discrimination.
This policy is intended to assist the council to put this commitment into practice. Compliance with this policy should also ensure that employees do not commit unlawful acts of discrimination.
Striving to ensure that the work environment is free of harassment and bullying and that everyone is treated with dignity and respect is an important aspect of ensuring equal opportunities in employment.
It is unlawful to discriminate directly or indirectly in recruitment or employment because of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race (which includes colour, nationality, caste and ethnic or national origins), sexual orientation, religion or belief, or because someone is married or in a civil partnership. These are known as “protected characteristics”.
Discrimination after employment may also be unlawful, e.g. refusing to give a reference for a reason related to one of the protected characteristics.
The council will not discriminate against or harass a member of the public in the provision of services or goods. It is unlawful to fail to make reasonable adjustments to overcome barriers to using services caused by disability. The duty to make reasonable adjustments includes the removal, adaptation or alteration of physical features, if the physical features make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of services. In addition, service providers have an obligation to think ahead and address any barriers that may impede disabled people from accessing a service.
Types of unlawful discrimination
Direct discrimination is where a person is treated less favourably than another because of a protected characteristic.
In limited circumstances, employers can directly discriminate against an individual for a reason related to any of the protected characteristics where there is an occupational requirement. The occupational requirement must be crucial to the post and a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Indirect discrimination is where a provision, criterion or practice is applied that is discriminatory in relation to individuals who have a relevant protected characteristic such that it would be to the detriment of people who share that protected characteristic compared with people who do not, and it cannot be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
Harassment is where there is unwanted conduct, related to one of the protected characteristics (other than marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity) that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity; or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It does not matter whether or not this effect was intended by the person responsible for the conduct.
Associative discrimination is where an individual is directly discriminated against or harassed for association with another individual who has a protected characteristic.
Perceptive discrimination is where an individual is directly discriminated against or harassed based on a perception that he/she has a particular protected characteristic when he/she does not, in fact, have that protected characteristic.
Third-party harassment occurs where an employee is harassed and the harassment is related to a protected characteristic, by third parties.
Victimisation occurs where an employee is subjected to a detriment, such as being denied a training opportunity or a promotion because he/she made or supported a complaint or raised a grievance under the Equality Act 2010, or because he/she is suspected of doing so. However, an employee is not protected from victimisation if he/she acted maliciously or made or supported an untrue complaint.
Failure to make reasonable adjustments is where a physical feature or a provision, criterion or practice puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared with someone who does not have that protected characteristic and the employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments to enable the disabled person to overcome the disadvantage.
Equal opportunities in employment
The council will avoid unlawful discrimination in all aspects of employment including recruitment, promotion, opportunities for training, pay and benefits, discipline and selection for redundancy.
Person and job specifications will be limited to those requirements that are necessary for the effective performance of the job. Candidates for employment or promotion will be assessed objectively against the requirements for the job, taking account of any reasonable adjustments that may be required for candidates with a disability. Disability and personal or home commitments will not form the basis of employment decisions except where necessary.
The council will consider any possible indirectly discriminatory effect of its standard working practices, including the number of hours to be worked, the times at which these are to be worked and the place at which work is to be done, when considering requests for variations to these standard working practices and will refuse such requests only if the council considers it has good reasons, unrelated to any protected characteristic, for doing so. The council will comply with its obligations in relation to statutory requests for contract variations. The council will also make reasonable adjustments to its standard working practices to overcome barriers caused by disability.
Equal opportunities monitoring
The council will monitor the ethnic, gender and age composition of the existing workforce and of applicants for jobs (including promotion), and the number of people with disabilities within these groups, and will consider and take any appropriate action to address any problems that may be identified as a result of the monitoring process.
The council treats personal data collected for reviewing equality and diversity in accordance with the data protection policy. Information about how data is used and the basis for processing is provided in the council’s privacy notices.
Dignity at work
The council has a separate dignity at work policy concerning issues of bullying and harassment on any ground, and how complaints of this type will be dealt with.
People not employed by the council
The council will not discriminate unlawfully against those using or seeking to use the services provided by the council.
You should report any bullying or harassment by suppliers, visitors or others to the council who will take appropriate action.
The council will [provide training in/raise awareness of] equal opportunities to those likely to be involved in recruitment or other decision making where equal opportunities issues are likely to arise.
The council will [provide training to/raise awareness of] all staff engaged to work at the council to help them understand their rights and responsibilities under the dignity at work policy and what they can do to help create a working environment free of bullying and harassment. The council will provide additional training to managers to enable them to deal more effectively with complaints of bullying and harassment.
Every employee is required to assist the council to meet its commitment to provide equal opportunities in employment and avoid unlawful discrimination. Employees can be held personally liable as well as, or instead of, the council for any act of unlawful discrimination. Employees who commit serious acts of harassment may be guilty of a criminal offence.
Acts of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation against employees or customers are disciplinary offences and will be dealt with under the council’s disciplinary procedure. Discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation may constitute gross misconduct and could lead to dismissal without notice.
If you consider that you may have been unlawfully discriminated against, you should use the council’s grievance procedure to make a complaint. If your complaint involves bullying or harassment, the grievance procedure is modified as set out in the dignity at work policy.
The council will take any complaint seriously and will seek to resolve any grievance that it upholds. You will not be penalised for raising a grievance, even if your grievance is not upheld, unless your complaint is both untrue and made in bad faith.
Monitoring and review
This policy will be monitored periodically by the council to judge its effectiveness and will be updated in accordance with changes in the law. In particular, the council will monitor the ethnic and gender composition of the existing workforce and of applicants for jobs (including promotion), and the number of people with disabilities within these groups, and will review its equal opportunities policy in accordance with the results shown by the monitoring. If changes are required, the council will implement them.
Information provided by job applicants and employees for monitoring purposes will be used only for these purposes and will be dealt with in accordance with relevant data protection legislation.
This is a non-contractual procedure which will be reviewed from time to time.
HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the meeting of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee held on 18th July 2023 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Attendees: Parish Councillors, Carolyn Barton, David Bunting, Paul Shepherd, Don McBeth, Kate Bailey and Dan Sewell.
Cllr Weir arrived at 7.40pm
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth
PRC23/15 APOLOGIES – None
PRC23/16 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.
PRC23/17 ELECTION OF CHAIR & VICE CHAIR
The Clerk advised that it was acknowledged that a number of Councillors on this Committee already chaired other Committees and also included a number of newly appointed members, however the Clerk sought any volunteers for the role of Chair for the forthcoming year.
As no members indicated they were in a position to fulfil this role at this current point it was agreed to seek a volunteer from the members present to Chair the evenings meeting – Cllr Bunting indicated he was prepared to Chair the meeting.
All members were in agreement and Cllr Bunting was duly appointed to Chair for this meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 6th June 2023 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
PRC23/19 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No members of the public were present.
PRC23/20 Investment Policy
The Clerk introduced the first item on the agenda which was set out in Appendix A which represented the Councils current investment policy which sets how the council will consider a range of investments.
Periodically members are requested to review this policy and determine whether they wish to make any amendments or adjustments. The Clerk indicated that In light of the increase in interest rates there may be opportunities to invest funds in additional financial institutions to attract better rates than currently being obtained, and also to spread the risk more evenly in line with the FSA thresholds.
The Clerk advised members that he had undertaken some preliminary review work on some other authority’s investments and advised members of the types of institution parish councils were placing funds in. Invariably they would include a combination of instant access, fixed day notice and fixed term bonds.
Members were requested to consider investing some of its reserves over a variety of terms in light of some of the council priority schemes being programmed for future years, therefore in the meantime efforts should be made to obtain a reasonable return. The Clerk indicated that work would be required to assess the options in more detail prior to a proposal being considered by members.
Members considered the report and all were in agreement that the Council should consider a wider portfolio of investments, but the Council should have regard to ensuring that this is done prudently to ensure the public funds are adequately protected.
The Clerk confirmed that the policy already required investments to be placed in UK registered financial institutions protected by the FSA and with a Moody rating of at least ‘A’.
The Clerk indicated that he would undertake further work and come forward with a proposal for members to consider taking into consideration the cash flow requirements for the Council which will inform the mix of investment.
Members were firstly requested to consider the content of the existing Investment policy and determine whether they wished to make any further amendments or approve its ongoing adoption.
Members RESOLVED to approve the ongoing adoption of the Investment Policy without amendment.
Members also AGREED that the Clerk comes forward at a future Policy Resource & Communication Committee meeting with a proposal for investments.
PRC23/21 Equalities Policy
Members were advised that it is a statutory requirement for the Council to have an up to date Equalities policy in place. The Clerk indicated that this would be the first of a number of policies brought forward to this committee for consideration during the year.
Members were asked to consider and approve the Equalities policy before them for formal adoption, the document for consideration was based on a model document produced by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).
Members considered the policy and RESOLVED to APPROVE the Equalities policy for formal adoption.
PRC23/22 COMMUNICATIONS Cllr Sewell provided members with an update as to where he was on progressing this initiative post the recent focus sessions and sought a steer as to how this might be taken forward. The consensus amongst members was that a paper should be drafted setting out a number of bullet points/actions for discussion at the next Policy Resource & Communications Committee to enable members to determine how best to take this work stream forward. Members were keen to have further clarity over the potential elements of work.
Members felt that one of the areas to be considered was how the Annual Parish meeting could be developed as it was acknowledged that any planning should commence at an early stage.
Members AGREED that Cllr Sewell should produce a paper for consideration at the next PR&C Committee setting out options for members to consider how they may be taken forward
PRC23/23 URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – None
PRC23/24 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next as Tuesday 5th September 2023 at 7.30pm