HASSOCKS PARISH COUNCIL
To: All Members of the Policy Resources & Communications Committee (Carolyn Barton David Bunting Ian Weir, Kate Bailey, 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 28 November 2023 at 7.30 pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Parish Clerk – 21 November 2023
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 24 October 2023. (Previously Circulated)
4. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
5. Remembrance Day/Parade arrangements – (verbal update)
6. Communications – initiatives verbal update and consideration of Annual Parish meeting plan
7. DRAFT BUDGET 2024/25
The attached paper set out as (Appendix 1) details of the draft budget proposal for 2024/25. 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 2024/25.
To view Appendix 1 please click here.
To view Appendix A please click here.
To view Appendix B please click here.
8. URGENT MATTERS at the discretion of the Chairman for noting and/or inclusion on a future agenda.
9. DATE OF NEXT MEETING. 16 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 24th October 2023 (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 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.
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 28th November 2023 at 7.30pm in the Parish Centre, Adastra Park, Hassocks.
Attendees: Parish Councillors Carolyn Barton, Paul Shepherd, Ian Weir, Don McBeth and Frances Gaudencio.
Parish Clerk: Ian Cumberworth.
PRC23/53 APOLOGIES – Cllr David Bunting and Cllr Kate Bailey.
PRC23/54 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.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 24th October 2023 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting.
PRC23/56 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
No members of the public were present.
PRC23/57 Remembrance Day/Parade arrangements
This item was requested to be included on the agenda as some Members who attended the recent event expressed concerns that the event has become diluted since the RBL no longer had a presence in the village. Members were open to exploring how this might be preserved and improved going forward and whether this could be taken on /supported by the Council.
To do so would result in some cost and resource implications however it was noted that this could not be absorbed within the current staffing.
Members were advised that a number of years ago the Clerk and Cllr Weir had held a meeting with a representative of the Legion who indicated that it required a large amount of work to organise.
Member’s views were sought.
Cllr Barton advised Members that the Legion in the village disbanded a number of years ago and the church had taken over some of the functions associated with the event with services and wreath laying taking place at both St Cosmos & St Damian Church Keymer and St John the Baptist Church Clayton. This year was also supported by the Ditchling British Legion branch.
There is no longer a parade which used to form part of the ceremony at St Cosmos. This has lapsed since post covid times and the closure of the Legion.
Members also expressed the view that as no road closure was in place this year, when the readings were held by the war memorial it was difficult to hear due to the close proximity of traffic travelling past the venue. Therefore as a minimum a road closure should be put in place.
Members stated they would like to explore options to see if the profile of the event could be raised.
Cllr Gaudencio advised Members that she had been in discussion with a member of the public who would be keen to support the organisation of the event in principle, but further discussions were still to be held.
Members raised the option as to whether Hassocks Community Organisation might be able to support the event from an insurance /marshalling perspective.
Members who attended the service at Clayton also stated that football was being played on Clayton Recreation Ground, consequently the car park was full making it difficult to park. Members were advised that a number of years ago arrangements were in place via MSDC officers to try and ensure fixtures did not clash with the service, however this seems to have lapsed over time with the change in MSDC personnel.
Members were supportive of the principle of exploring how this event may be organised in future years and AGREED that Cllr Gaudencio hold further discussion with the individual who has expressed an interest in organising the event to establish whether this is a viable option.
Cllr Barton shared with Cllr Gaudencio an outline plan provided by Ditchling RBL concerning actions required to organise the event.
Members also requested that as the Council does not currently have a Parish representative for the Hassocks Community Organisation the Clerk contact the group regarding Insurance cover and marshalling this type of event.
It was agreed a further paper would be brought back to this Committee in due course with the outcome of these additional enquiries to inform a decision.
The Clerk introduced the item and indicated that it covered two areas:
i. General Communciation and how the council communicates information to the public.
ii. Options on how Members may wish to run/organise the Annual Parish Meeting.
To aid the discussion some background papers had been previously circulated of an example of how a neighbouring Parish Council used its village magazine to regularly communicate to its parishioners.
In addition a further briefing paper was issued on the Annual Parish meeting to provide context to its purpose and what could be done to improve attendance.
Members discussed initially how they could raise the profile and wider awareness of the Council in the village. A number of specific articles had already been produced and published in ‘Hassocks Life, in the current year which were highlighted by Cllr Gaudencio.
Members expressed the view that consideration should be given to providing regular content e.g. every two months. This could include Parish Council focused information together with general public awareness information.
Members accepted that to achieve this would require a commitment from those tasked with producing articles. However it was felt that creating a schedule of future items would provide a focus and discipline to achieve this.
It was acknowledged that the Council would need to be realistic in its aspirations to provide sufficient content taking into the consideration the publication submission dates which can be up to two weeks prior to the publication dates.
Members were keen to progress this approach and therefore a number of Members (Cllr Gaudencio, McBeth and Shepherd) volunteered to form an Editorial Communications Team to develop a proposed schedule of items for consideration by the Policy Resources & Communications Committee to agree an outline schedule for next year.
The consensus from Members was that the February 2024 edition of Hassocks Life would be the target to provide the first article. This could potentially incorporate an item on the Budget/precept for 2024/25.
The member group were therefore tasked to come forward with a proposed schedule of articles for the year together with a drafted article for the February Hassocks Life magazine.
Annual Parish Meeting – Members were informed that this could be held between March and June but after 6 pm, this could involve organisations associated with the Parish Council. Members were asked to consider how they wished to consider progressing this taking into account the experience of the recent Hassocks on Show event held in Adastra Hall.
Consideration would also need to be given to the size of venue required and the format of the event. However the focus of the event should remain to promote the Parish Council work via an annual report and encourage a wider attendance at the event.
If an alternative venue was to be used from the Parish Centre, bookings will need to be made to secure the venue at an early stage.
Members discussed a number of potential options to be considered and how the meeting could be structured.
Members AGREED that the Editorial Communications Team would also be tasked with coming forward with a proposal for the Policy Resources & Communications Committee to consider with regard to format for 2024 Annual Parish meeting at a future meeting.
PRC23/59 Draft Budget 2024/25
The Clerk introduced the report and drew Members’ attention to Appendix 1 on the agenda which set out a draft budget proposal for 2024/25 and the projected outturn for 2023/24 for Member’s consideration.
By way of introduction on page 2 of the paper this set out various considerations taken into account in determining the proposed budget.
The Clerk then took Members through the various elements of the report.
On pages 4 and 5 of the paper it set out a summary of income and expenditure for 2023/24 (projected outturn) and a proposed budget for 2024/25.
The Clerk indicated that as part of the budget setting process he had attempted to provide narrative on some of the key variances in the budget (23/24) and projected 24/25 budget (page 6) incorporating potential options/initiatives for consideration.
The budget had been adjusted to reflect the recommendations being made this evening to the Policy Resources & Communications committee in respect of salaries and associated costs.
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. If the Council chose not to change the current level of precept it would return a deficit budget of £9,525 for 2024/25. (Page7)
If Members were minded to accept this option due to the increase in the property base (increased by 102 properties) this would result in a decrease in payment for a band D equivalent property from £84.93 to £82.64 which would equate to a reduction of (£2.29) per annum.
If the Council chose to deliver a balanced budget taking into consideration the increase in properties the precept for a band D equivalent property for the year would be £85.16 which would equate to an increase of 23 pence for the year for a band D equivalent property.(Page 3)
If however the Council wished to raise additional funds via the precept to support future priorities. For every extra £1,000 raised via the precept it would cost a band D equivalent property an additional 26 pence for the year.
To provide an illustration of the impact on precept across the bands Members’ attention was drawn to:
Appendix A (page 11) which provided an illustration of the impact on all council tax payment bands if Members were minded to retain the current precept level and not apply an increase and return a deficit budget.
Appendix B (page 12)
Provided members with an illustration of the impact on the precept across the bands to deliver a balanced budget.
A proposal which was recently supported by Grounds & Environment has been incorporated in the table set out on page 9 of the report and could be achieved without impacting on the proposed precept. (Allocation EMR – Allotment Gate / Village Signs)
The budget out turn (23/24) and proposed budget 24/25 reflects the proposed salary uplifts put forward by the Staffing panel which were to be considered later on in the agenda.
The Clerk indicated that he did not propose to go through each income/expenditure line by line, but was happy to take any questions Members may have on some of the proposals.
Members asked a number of questions in relation to specific budgets which the Clerk responded to. Members thanked the Clerk for the comprehensive paper setting out the options for Members to consider and acknowledged the amount of work involved to produce the document.
Members considered the proposed budget proposals and indicated that they would support delivering a ‘balanced budget’ and to do so would only require a modest increase of 23 pence for the year on a Band D equivalent property.
After careful consideration of the proposed budget requirements Members RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to full Council to deliver a balanced budget which would provide a precept of £321,827.
PRC23/60 URGENT MATTERS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHAIRMAN – None.
PRC23/61 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
To note that the date of the next is Tuesday 16th January 2024 at 7.30pm
The confidential minutes of the meeting held on the 24th October 2023 were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting
PRC23/63 & PRC23/64 Staffing Matters. Members discussed specified staffing and resourcing matters.
PRC23/65 Christmas Opening Hours Members considered the opening hours over the Christmas period and APPROVED that the Parish offices should remain closed on Friday 29th as the office would only normally be open to the public for 2 hours on that day.