Cllr H Allsopp

Cllr E A Barrell

Cllr K Grimes

Cllr G Huntley

Cllr A Iley

Cllr J Rowell

Cllr Vaughan (Chair)

Cllr L Watson



Mrs A Brindley, Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer and Mr D L Nicholson, Deputy Parish Clerk.



C001/20         1.         APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Cllr J Foster submitted apologies (ill health).  The meeting accepted this as a proper reason for non-attendance.



Cllr A Iley declared an interest in respect of agenda item 16, indicating that he will withdraw from the meeting at the conclusion of item 15.


C003/20         3.         PUBLIC QUESTIONS.

The Parish Clerk explained arrangements made for members of the public to submit questions or attend the meeting.  No questions had been received.



The Parish Clerk advised that there were 2 applications requiring consideration and invited the Cllr K Grimes as Chairman of the Planning Committee to address the meeting.

4.1       Cllr Grimes advised notice for the closure of a section of footpath adjacent to the former Swan public house has been received by the Parish Council.  Northumberland County Council has granted permission for a change of use to a residential dwelling.  This permission included a section of highway being re-designated.  Cllr Grimes expressed concern that safe access to the bus stop situated to the front of the former public house entrance might be compromised.  The meeting shared these concerns.

RESOLVED:  Members delegated responsibility to the Parish Clerk in consultation with the Chairman and Vice-chairman of the planning committee to prepare a response on behalf of the Parish Council.

 4.2       The Parish Clerk reported an application is being considered by Northumberland County Council for the change of use of a building from vehicle depot to material recycling facility.  The site is within the Choppington Parish Council boundary, but close to residential properties in the East Bedlington Parish.  Access to the site is difficult because of the inadequacy of the Barrington Road between the A1068 and Red Row Drive.  The 2 alternative access roads route vehicles through residential areas.  A previous application at a nearby site was controversial with residents objecting to increased traffic flow and distress from noise, dust and particulates from burning of materials.


  1. Members delegated responsibility to the Parish Clerk in consultation with the Chairman and Vice-chairman of the planning committee to prepare a response on behalf of the Parish Council.
  2. The Parish Clerk was asked to co-ordinate with East Bedlington Parish Council.
  3. The Parish Council gave authority for the Parish Clerk to convene a meeting of the planning committee.




The meeting agreed the minutes represented a true record of the meeting and agreed they should be signed as such by the Chairman and placed in the public domain.


C006/20        6.         MATTERS ARISING.

There were no matters arising from the minutes.




Te meeting agreed the minutes represented a true record of the meeting and agreed they should be signed as such by the Chairman and placed in the public domain.


C008/20        8.         MATTERS ARISING.

 There were no matters arising from the minutes.



The meeting agreed the minutes represented a true record of the meeting and agreed they should be signed as such by the Chairman and placed in the public domain.

C010/20        10.       MATTERS ARISING.

                                    There were no matters arising from the minutes.



The meeting agreed the minutes represented a true record of the meeting and agreed they should be signed as such by the Chairman and placed in the public domain.


C012/20        12.       MATTERS ARISING.

                                    There were no matters arising from the minutes.



The meeting noted the minutes agreed they be placed in the public domain.



Members received and considered the report from the internal auditor (appendix 1) and the Parish Clerk reported that the internal auditor had also completed the Annual Internal Auditor Report.

RESOLVED:  Members welcomed the report and noted that there were no matters requiring further consideration.


C015/20        15.       APPOINTMENT OF INTERNAL AUDITOR FOR 2020/21.


RESOLVED:  The Parish Council agreed to appoint Mr P Basnett as internal auditor for 2020/21.

Cllr A Iley having declared a registerable interest was placed in the waiting room by the meeting host.



The Parish Clerk reported that following staff re-organisation, job descriptions for the Finance/Administrative Officer and the Community Development Officer have been revised in line with budget decisions made at the meeting of 31 January 2020.  Members were asked to given direction and approval for the updated contracts.


RESOLVED:  The meeting authorised the Chairman to sign both contracts on behalf of the Parish Council.


C017/20        17.       ANNUAL STATEMENT OF RISK 2020/2021.

17.1    The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer explained that each Parish and Town Council should have in place a system to help it to manage risk. This system will be simple for the smallest parishes and more complex for larger parish and town councils.  A council’s internal auditor may use this risk management system to help to identify what tests to carry out as part of the audit.

17.2    Good practice requires the Parish Clerk to assess and manage risk and the Authority to consider ways to improve and document existing practices.  The Parish Council has previously recognised the importance of risk management and has adopted procedures for risk assessment and management.  The failure to manage risks effectively can be expensive in financial terms and, also in terms of service delivery and reputation.

17.3    Members are ultimately responsible for risk management because risks threaten a council’s ability to achieve its objectives. The Clerk should therefore ensure that members:

  • Identify the key risks facing the council
  • Evaluate the potential to the council of one of these risks taking place; and
  • Agree measures to; avoid, reduce or control the risk or its consequence.


17.4    Every council is different and there is no such thing as a standard list of risks. There are however common themes that are likely to emerge. These might include:

  • Physical assets – buildings, equipment, IT hardware etc.
  • Finance – banking, loss of income, petty cash etc.
  • Injury to the public – in playgrounds and recreation grounds, community buildings etc
  • Complying with legal requirements – agendas and minutes, records, etc
  • Councillor propriety – declarations of interest, gifts and hospitality etc


17.5    The Clerk needs to consider each of the possible risks under each of the identified schemes. For example, physicals assets could be lost as a result of fire or flood, damage by vandals, theft, or deterioration through lack of maintenance.  All these risks can be minimised or transferred by various means such as taking out insurance, securing alarms or by regular inspection and maintenance.  In addition to identifying risk, it is a good idea to make a judgement about likelihood of the risk occurring and its potential impact.  Classification need be no more complicated than high, medium, or low.  Members have received training and will be aware that specific training to address areas of concern will be arranged.


17.6    There are three main ways of managing risk:

  • Take out insurance
  • Work with another party to reduce the risk; or
  • Manage the risk yourself.


17.7    During 2018/19 the Parish Clerk and the Responsible Finance Officer conducted a comprehensive review of insurance and risk, meeting with representatives of Came Insurance and attending seminars run through the SLCC.  Insurance is reviewed on a 3-year cycle.  Staff receive training on risk annually through the Society of Local Council Clerks and members review the authorities risk statement each year.


17.8    The Parish Clerk asked Members to consider the annual statement of risk as contained in Appendix 2 and annexe attached to these minutes.


  1. Members considered and adopted the annual statement of risk (assessment and management) for 2020/2021.
  2. The Parish Clerk was instructed to take all actions indicated in the annual statement.



18.1    The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer reported that as a smaller authority with a gross income exceeding £25,000 the Parish Council must complete part 3 of the Annual Governance and Accountability Return at the end of each financial year.

18.2    The Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR) comprises 4 sections.

  1. Annual Governance Statement,
  2. Accounting Statements,
  3. Annual Internal Audit Report, and

4       External Auditor Report and Certificate.


The Parish Council completes 1 and 2 at this meeting.  Our internal auditor completes no.3 (see agenda item 14) and the external auditor no.4


18.3    The annual governance statement is a public report affirming that the Council is being conducted in accordance with the law, regulations and proper practices and that public money is safeguarded and properly accounted for. The Council responds to statements known as assertions.  Guidance is issued by the Joint Panel on Accountability and Governance (JPAG).  The Parish Clerk asked members to consider each assertion by turn:


Assertion 1 – Financial management and preparation of accounting statements

‘We have put in place arrangements for effective financial management during the year, and for the preparation of the accounting statements.’

Members agreed that the Parish Council has taken all required steps to satisfy the assertion; a RFO has been appointed; financial procedures are in place to record financial transactions; bank reconciliations are completed on a monthly basis and reviewed by members; a budget has been prepared and approved; arrangements are in place to manage investments and earmarked reserves appropriately; and, annual accounts are prepared in an accurate and timely manner.

Assertion 2 – Internal Control

We maintained an adequate system of internal control, including measures designed to prevent and detect fraud and corruption and reviewed its effectiveness.’

Members asserted the Parish Council has in place and follows Standing orders and Financial Regulations. These documents identify how the Council operates to safeguard public money, how the Council makes its financial transactions, how it manages risk, how it pays staff, and how fixed assets are maintained and secured.  Members review these procedures and undertake regular internal examination of finances.

Assertion 3 – Compliance with laws regulations and proper practices

‘We took all reasonable steps to assure ourselves that there are no matters of actual or potential noncompliance with laws, regulations, and proper practices that could have a significant financial effect on the ability of this smaller authority to conduct its business or on its finances.’

Members asserted the Council has acted lawfully.  When making decisions members receive advice from the proper officer who confirms legal authority and power to act.

Assertion 4 – Exercise of Public Rights

‘We provided proper opportunity during the year for the exercise of electors rights in accordance with the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations.’

Section 25-27 of Local Government Accountability Act 2014 contain provisions giving interested person rights of inspection of accounts and records.  In making this assertion members noted the Council makes its accounts accessible for 30 working days during which time there is a mandatory full 10-day period from beginning of July (although this has been extended for 2019/20 accounts), and throughout the year by arrangement.

The accounting statement is published on the website.

Assertion 5 – Risk Management

‘We carried out an assessment of the risks facing this smaller authority and took appropriate steps to manage those risks, including the introduction of internal controls and/or external insurance cover where required.’

Members asserted the Council has compiled and reviewed the assessment of risk, and maintains a risk register which records the identification of risk e.g. financial loss of money/damage to property, and management of risk e.g. through insurance, added security measures, internal controls (see attached Annual Statement of Risk, agenda item 17).


Assertion 6 – Internal Audit

‘We maintained throughout the year an adequate and effective system of internal audit of the accounting records and control systems.’

In making this assertion members noted the appointment of an internal auditor who undertakes an effective audit.  The Responsible Finance Officer gives the internal auditor access to all documents and records, supplying any all required information and explanations.


Assertion 7 – Reports from Auditors

‘We took appropriate action on all matters raised in reports from internal and external audit.’

Members consider all reports from the internal and external auditors and resolve any actions that might be required.

Assertion 8 – significant events

‘We considered whether any litigation, liabilities or commitments, events or transactions, occurring either during or after the year-end, have a financial impact on this smaller authority and, where appropriate have included them in

the accounting statements.’

In setting the budget and when authorising year end statements, the council consider any events occurring during the financial year (or after the year-end), that have consequences, or potential consequences, on the authority’s finances.

Members considered the effects of coronavirus.  The Parish Clerk explained that at the special meeting on 18th March 2020 measures had been put in place to help the community during the pandemic, however due to government initiatives, Northumberland County Council measures and local efforts, Parish Council expenditure had been well within budget to date.  Nor had the Council lost any income through lockdown. As such evidence suggests it will not have a significant financial impact on the authority and will not require inclusion on the accounting statements.


Assertion 9 – Trust Funds

Not applicable

18.4    Members considered the accounting statement for the year ended 31 March 2020.


  1. Having noted the completion of the annual internal report from the internal Auditor, members considered the annual governance statement and accounts.
  2. Members considered annual governance statement and determined that to the best of their knowledge and belief that they have satisfied their responsibilities in relation to assertions 1 to 8 inclusive.
  3. Members noted that section 9 of the statement was not applicable as the council does not act as the sole managing trustee of any local trust or similar body.
  4. Members received and approved the accounting statement and supporting documentation for the year ended 31 March 2020.
  5. The Chairman of the meeting and the Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer were authorised to sign the statements contained in the Parish Council’s annual return for the financial year ended 31 March 2020.


Agenda – Part 2.  There were no matters referred from part 1 of the agenda for consideration under Standing Order 46a.

There being no further business the meeting concluded at  19.45pm


Chairman                                                                              Dated




Agenda Item 14

CO 014/20


Appendix One









Appendix two




AreaRiskLevelControl (and agreed improvements)


Protection of physical assetsLThe Parish Council owns physical assets such as bus shelters, notice boards, planters, play equipment, portable staging, grass cutters, public seating, waste bins, War memorials, gardening equipment, security equipment, equipment for snow clearance, equipment required for the maintenance of sports surfaces, computers and related equipment, mobile sports court and specialist container and office equipment.  Insurance exists in relation to 3rd party liability.

Each asset together with their purchase price is contained in the Parish Council Asset Register.  The combined replacement cost of these is in excess of £500,000.  To insure for replacement will be in the region of £3,000/annum (£250 to £750 excess in respect of any claim).  The Parish Council has previously resolved to make financial provision for the replacement of these assets on a cyclical basis of between 5 and 25 years dependant on the economic life of each asset.  The Parish Council considers that this earmarked fund gives the most cost effective solution for cyclical and other required replacements.  The necessary financial contribution to this fund is calculated on an annual basis each January and the required provision is identified in the Parish Council budget.

Although formal transfer of Allotments from NCC has not yet taken place.  Allotments are regularly inspected.

From 1 April 2013 Northumberland County Council transferred the responsibility for play areas to the Parish Council.  The replacement cost of equipment located in these play areas is in the region of £225,000.00.  The Parish Council has previously agreed to make provision for the replacement of all play equipment on a cyclical basis (15 to 20 years).  It is considered that this fund is adequate for replacement of equipment through damage/vandalism.  The liability for play areas and any land when transferred to the Parish Council will be automatically covered under the existing Public Liability insurance.

During 2020/2021 financial provision has been made for the replacement of 3 play areas in line with the schedule detailed above.



Security of buildings, equipment etcLThe Parish Council owns one building, which is subject to a long term (peppercorn community lease) lease, with the tenant being responsible for security, maintenance, and repair.  The Parish Council offices are located within premises owned by a local charity.  Office equipment is contained within a secure environment.  It is anticipated that the Parish Council will own or have purview of additional community buildings in the future.  A separate consideration of risk will be undertaken for each building.  The Parish Council owns a modular sports facility (MSF) that can be transported from area to area in a secure trailer.  When not in use the MSF and trailer are stored in a secure area when not in use.  Replacement of this facility is provided for through earmarked funds.


Maintenance of buildings, equipment etcL


A full maintenance contract exists in respect of photocopying equipment (3 machines, 2 owned by the Parish Council, 1 on permanent loan from Newman Associates), with IT equipments being self-managed.  One of these machines is scheduled for replacement.  Financial provision has been made for their future replacement through earmarked funds.
FinanceBankingMIt is anticipated that not more than £750,000 will be held in accounts at any one time during 2020/2021.  The budget set by the authority for 2020/2021 does not anticipate any interest/charges on our principal account.  The funds held will reduce during the financial year as earmarked expenditure for the development of community facilities are made.  Fidelity insurance will be regularly reviewed, and initially set at £750,000.    Members will review the level of fidelity insurance required on a quarterly basis and to direct adjustments to ensure value for money.

Currently all funds are held in 2 accounts, Unity Trust and CCLA (Public Sector deposit Fund).  Parish Council funds are excluded from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and deposits with CCLA are made to mitigate risk.

These investments will be made in accordance with the Parish Council’s Investment Strategy, which was reviewed in March 2020 (C064/19).

 Risk of consequential loss of incomeLPartnership projects are funded, in part through investment from partner organisations.  All activity beyond this is funded through precept income.
 Loss of cash through theft or dishonestyHOnly small amounts of cash are handled.  However, in the age of electronic banking it is considered that a Fidelity Guarantee of £750,000.00 is required (see recommendation contained in Financial Banking above).
 Financial controls and recordsMFinancial Regulations are currently being reviewed.  Monthly bank reconciliation and quarterly budgetary control reports prepared by Clerk and reported to Council.  Two signatures from five signatories on cheques.  Members perform scrutiny checks by rota on a weekly basis.  Internal and external audit.  All procedures and processes reviewed annually.  The Parish Council has adopted an Investment Policy.
 Comply with Customs and Excise RegulationsMVAT payments and claims calculated by Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer.  Open to inspection by members.  Internal and external auditor to provide double check.

The Parish Clerk and Deputy Parish Clerk undertake VAT training on an annual basis to ensure compliance and realisation of any financial benefit.  The Parish Council has retained the services of an external VAT adviser to support the council when required.

 Sound budgeting to underpin annual preceptMReports to Council contain examination of Financial and Resource implications. Council receives and considers detailed budgets as part of its annual consideration December/January. Precept derived directly from this. Income & Expenditure against budget reported to Council every quarter.
 Complying with borrowing restrictionsLNo borrowing has been made by the Parish Council to date.
LiabilityRisk to third party, property or individualsMPublic Liability insurance in place.  Existing cover of up to £10m.
 Legal liability as consequence of asset ownershipMAssets owned are contained in the Asset Register and include street furniture.  The mobile court is owned by the Parish Council and will be operated on our behalf by a third party with all necessary liability insurance.
 Libel and SlanderMMembers and clerk – standard cover up to £250,000 (This cover extends to the Deputy Parish Clerk and other staff).
 Officials IndemnityMCover for members and clerk for any negligent act, accidental error or omission committed – standard cover up to £500,000 (This cover extends to the Deputy Parish Clerk).


Employer LiabilityComply with Employment LawMAdvice sought from National Association of Local Councils when required.  Existing insurance cover up to £10m in respect of most aspects.  Potential cover in respect of Tribunals is limited to £50k.  The Parish Council is classed as a Larger Local Council and has made budget provision to obtain, when required, legal advice to support the authority in respect of legislative changes, increased responsibility/liability and to protect the authority from any legal actions mounted against the authority.  Provision has also been made to support the development of each member of staff.


Comply with Inland Revenue requirementsMNorthumberland County Council undertakes all payroll functions on behalf of the Parish Council.  Internal and external auditors carry out annual checks.
 Compliance with Pension Fund requirementsMThe Parish Council has 4 employees.  Currently all employees are members of the Local Government Scheme.  Necessary policy reviews and statements are prepared under the direction of Northumberland County Council which administers the scheme.


 Safety of Staff and VisitorsMParish Office located within Stakeford and Bomarsund Sports and Social Welfare Centre, a community building.  The Parish Council is becoming engaged on an increasing basis in organising events where health and safety process and procedures are required in both planning and delivery.  Risk grows with activity and the Parish Council has commissioned support both legal and technical consideration in terms of legislative change and increased regulatory requirements.  This is through contract to an external provider.

Training in respect of risk assessment has been undertaken by 3 members of staff, and additional training for all staff will be undertaken during the course of the next 12 months.



Ensuring activities are within legal powersHClerk clarifies legal position on any new proposal ensuring legal authority.  Legal advice to be sought when necessary.
 Proper and timely reporting via the MinutesMCouncil meets quarterly and receives and approves Minutes of meetings held in interim.  Minutes made available through website.
 Proper document controlLLeases and legal documents held in the Parish office.  Key documents to be stored at bank or at solicitors.  Compliance with the requirements of GDPR, FoIA and other requirements will be demonstrated.    


Registers of Interests and gifts and hospitality in placeMRegister of interest completed.  The acceptance of gifts and hospitality is not encouraged and there is a requirement to declare any gifts or hospitality (over £50 in value) as and when received.  This requirement extends to members and employees and is reviewed annually.



Ms A Brindley

Parish Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer

9 June 2020








































Appendix three

Annual Governance and Accounting Statements 2019/20