MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF CHOPPINGTON PARISH COUNCIL 8 MAY 2024

MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF CHOPPINGTON PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON WEDNESDAY 8 MAY 2024 AT STAKEFORD AND BOMARSUND SPORT AND SOCIAL WELFARE CENTRE

MEMBERS PRESENT:

Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr J Foster (attended from agenda item 9)

Cllr G Huntley

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr P S Vaughan (Chair)

Cllr L Watson

 

IN ATTENDANCE:

Ms A Brindley Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer, Mr D L Nicholson Deputy Parish Clerk and Mr D Iley Finance Assistant

C001/24         1.         ELECTION OF A CHAIRMAN FOR THE ENSUING YEAR.

The Parish Clerk reported that 3 nominations had been received for Councillor P S Vaughan for the position of Chairman. As the sole nominee Cllr P Vaughan was duly elected to serve as Chairman for council year 2024/5.

 

C002/24         2.         TO RECEIVE THE CHAIRMAN’S DECLARATION OF   ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICE.

Cllr P S Vaughan duly signed the declaration.

C003/24         3.         THOSE ATTENDING AND APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE.

Apologies were received from Cllr K Burn for a prior training course and Cllr A Hart for work commitments.

The meeting accepted these as valid reasons for absence.

C004/24         4.         DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY AND OTHER REGISTERABLE PERSONAL INTEREST(S).

Cllr L Watson declared an interest in the grant request item in Agenda Part 2

 

C005/24         5.         PUBLIC QUESTIONS.

No public questions had been submitted

 

C006/24         6.         TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF 11 MAY 2022 (reported previously to the Parish Council meeting of 25 May 2022)

 

The minutes were received by the Parish Council.

C007/24         7.         THE ELECTION OF A VICE-CHAIRMAN FOR THE ENSUING YEAR.

The Parish Clerk reported that 3 nominations had been received for Councillor J Rowell for the position of Vice Chairman. As the sole nominee Cllr J Rowell was duly elected to serve as Vice-Chairman for Council year 2024/25.

 

C008/24         8.         TO APPOINT MEMBERS TO SERVE ON COMMITTEES OF THE

PARISH COUNCIL.

 The Parish Council and agreed the following committee memberships:

 

Committee                Allotment Committee

 Membership

Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr J Foster

Cllr A Hart

Cllr K Burns

Cllr G Huntley

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr P Vaughan

Cllr L Watson

 

Committee                Community Development and Environment Committee

 

Membership

Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr J Foster

Cllr A Hart

Cllr K Burns

Cllr G Huntley

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr P Vaughan

Cllr L Watson

 

Committee                Finance Committee

 

Membership

Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr J Foster

Cllr K Burns

Cllr G Huntley

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr P Vaughan

Cllr L Watson

 

Committee                Planning Committee

 

Membership

Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr K Burns

Cllr A Hart

Cllr G Huntley

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr P Vaughan

Cllr L Watson

 

To avoid a possible conflict of interest with her County Council duties, Cllr J Foster will not serve as a member of the planning committee.

 

Committee                Staffing and Policy Development Committee

 

Membership

Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr J Foster

Cllr K Burns

Cllr G Huntley

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr P Vaughan

Cllr L Watson

 

 

 

C009/24         9.         TO APPOINT REPRESENTATIVES TO OUTSIDE BODIES.

 

RESOLVED: Members agreed the following appointments:

 

  1. Cllr P S Vaughan appointed to the executive of Northumberland Association of Local Councils.
  2. Cllrs H Allsopp and G Huntley appointed to serve on the committee of Choppington Disability Group.
  3. Cllrs H Allsopp, G Huntley and P S Vaughan appointed as trustees to Stakeford and Bomarsund Sport and Social Welfare Centre.
  4. Cllrs H Allsopp, L Watson and K Burns appointed to serve on the committee of West Sleekburn Community Trust.
  5. Cllr G Huntley to National Association of Councils to complete term as Chair of English Region
  6. Cllr P Vaughan and Officer to attend SE Northumberland Forum.

Members agreed that consideration of any other vacancies arising during the year will be delegated to the Parish Clerk in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Council.

 

C010/24         10.       CYCLE OF MEETINGS FOR 2023/24.

 Members received a draft schedule of meetings dated and agreed the schedule

 

C011/24         11.       PAYROLL SERVICES.

Members noted the increase in charges and confirmed Northumberland County Council as the payroll services provider for 2024/25.

 

C012/24         12.       APPOINTMENT OF INTERNAL AUDITOR FOR 2024/25.

The Council’s internal auditor is Susan Saunders who is the Clerk at Haltwhistle, is AAT qualified and runs her own accountancy business.   She is also currently undertaking an SLCC training qualification on the Principles of internal auditing.

 

RESOLVED: Members approved the reappointment of Susan Coulthard as Auditor. 

 

C013/24         13.       APPOINTMENT OF EXTERNAL AUDITOR FOR 2024/25

 Under the Local Audit (Smaller Authorities) Regulations 2015, the Smaller Authorities Audit Appointments (SAAA) is responsible for appointing external auditors to all opted-in smaller authorities.  The SAAA has appointed Mazars as the Council’s external auditor for the next 5 years.  Any member with a personal conflict with this appointment should advise the SAAA.

 

RESOLVED: Members acknowledged the re-appointment of Mazars accountancy firm as the authority’s external auditor.

 C014/24         14.       REVIEW OF INVESTMENT POLICY.

The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer presented the councils investment policy (Addendum Three), explaining that the policy informs the Parish Councils annual investment strategy for the year to come. The policy concentrates on low-risk investments that spread risk and affords protection for Parish Council funds.

The PC/RFO stated that transfers to and from the ‘investment’ account will be reported to the Finance Committee. This policy is displayed on the website

 

RESOLVED: Members confirmed the investment policy attached as appendix 1 to these minutes.

 

 CO15/24        15.      REVIEW OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY.

Because of the special and confidential nature of the business to be discussed, this item was placed on part 2 of the agenda.

 

C016/24         16.       ANNUAL STATEMENT OF RISK 2024/25.

The Deputy Parish Clerk presented the annual statement of risk for 2024/25 to members for consideration and approval (attached as Appendix 2).

 

                        RESOLVED: The meeting accepted the statement as presented.

 

C017/24         17.       ASSET REGISTER.

The parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer presented the list of fixed assets for inclusion in the year end accounts to date.

 

Resolved: Members reviewed the list of fixed assets approving their inclusion in the year end accounts to date, to be reviewed and finalised at the meeting on 22 May 2024 .

 

C018/24         18.       REVIEW OF STANDING ORDERS.

Cllr Vaughan and Cllr Allsopp sort clarification on the meaning of paragraph 26  Restriction of Councillor Activities.  The wording seemed to imply that:

  1. A councillor (s) could only inspect any land or premises with prior authorization from the Council.

And

  1. That a councillor(s) could be given permission to issue orders instruction or direction.

 The Parish Clerk agreed it was confusing wording, and it had come from the NALC model standing orders.  It should not prevent any councillor informally visiting a site or premises and reporting back any problems to the Clerk.

Re item ii  It could not be envisaged that an occasion would arise when this council would need to authorise either one Councillor or a group of Councillors to issue an order, instruction or direction as all orders etc should be issued by the Clerk or in the Clerks absence the Deputy Clerk under the direction of the Council.

RESOLVED: Members approved Standing Orders with the exception of item 26 which will be redrafted by the Clerk.

C019/24         19.       REVIEW OF FINANCIAL REGULATIONS

 The Clerk presented the Financial Regulations explaining that these are based on the NALC model Financial Regulations of 2019, the new Regulations were due to be issued in April but as yet have not been circulated.  The changes to the Council’s previous policy had been highlighted for consideration.

Item 6.11 that the Chairman retains an envelope with computer access passwords and pin numbers had been highlighted for discussion.  In small Parish Councils, the only member of staff is the Clerk and this measure would ensure the continued functioning of the Council should the Clerk not be available.  This council will have 2 out of 3 members of staff who are able to access the computer systems of the Council.

RESOLVED: Members approved Financial Regulations with the exception of paragraph 6.11 which was to be deleted

C020/24         20.       CONSIDERATION OF THE PROCUREMENT POLICY

                                    The Clerk presented the draft procurement policy reflecting the changes made in the Financial Regulations, and drawing attention to the list of preferred suppliers.

RESOLVED: Members approved the Procurement Policy and the list of preferred suppliers.

C021/24                     CONSIDERATION OF GOVERNANCE AND AUDIT ISSUES

      The Clerk advised members that the audit had taken place that week but had not as yet received the final report.  It will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the Parish Council

 

Agenda, Part 2.

 Members in consideration of Standing Order 3 and the special and confidential nature of the business to be transacted, resolved the press and public be excluded and asked to withdraw.

 CO22/24        Consideration of any matters referred from Agenda Part 1.

 CO15/23 REVIEW OF INVESTMENT STRATEGY.

 RESOLVED: Members reviewed the investment strategy, and in consideration of the funding that is required for Cleaswell Park, resolved that the Finance committee considers any transfers to our higher yield account during the year.

 Cllr L Watson left the meeting

 

CO23/24        CONSIDERATION OF GRANTS

                        Bedlington Brass Band Junior Section

RESOLUTION : agreed £300.00 contribution towards the costs of £800.00

 

Cllr L Watson returned to the meeting

 

                        Dogwood Productions CIC

                        RESOLUTION:  Not to award a contribution but to investigate local theatre companies that may be available to provide similar service to wider audience of young people.

                       

There was no further business to be considered under Agenda Part 2

 

On conclusion of this item the meeting closed at 8.50 pm

 

 

 

 

 

Signed by the Chairman:                                                                         Date