MINUTES OF THE CHOPPINGTON PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON MONDAY 20 APRIL 2021 (HELD VIRTUALLY)
Cllr H Allsopp
Cllr E A Barrell
Cllr J Foster
Cllr K Grimes
Cllr G Huntley
Cllr A Iley
Cllr J Rowell
Cllr P S Vaughan, Chairman
Cllr L Watson
Ms A Brindley, Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer, Mr D L Nicholson Deputy Parish Clerk.
AGENDA PART 1
C047/20 1. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
All Members were present at the meeting.
C048/20 2. DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY AND OTHER REGISTERABLE PERSONAL INTEREST(S)
C049/20 3. PUBLIC QUESTIONS.
C050/20 4. PLANNING MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION.
The Parish Clerk presented a draft response to be submitted to Northumberland County Council welcoming the planning application submitted by BritishVolt to construct a plant to develop and produce batteries for the car and other industries. Members have previously received a presentation from the applicants, which evidenced significant employment, social and environmental benefit to the immediate and wider community.
RESOLVED: Members approved the response prepared by the Parish Clerk on behalf of the Parish Council.
C051/20 5. TO RECEIVE AND ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON 2 DECEMBER 2020.
The minutes were accepted as a true record and the Chairman was authorised to sign as such.
C052/20 6. MATTERS ARISING.
An update was given on minute C031/20 4 (Watson’s Yard), advising that the application will be considered on 21 April 2021 by Northumberland County Council with an officer recommendation for acceptance.
C053/20 7. TO RECEIVE AND ADOPT THE MINUTES OF THE PARISH COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING HELD ON 27 JANUARY 2021.
The minutes were accepted as a true record and the Chairman was authorised to sign as such.
C054/20 8. MATTERS ARISING.
The Parish Clerk confirmed that the budget has been translated into the work programme for 2021/22 and that all required contracts are being prepared.
C055/20 9. TO RECEIVE AND NOTE THE MINUTES OF THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE HELD ON 10 FEBRUARY 2021.
The minutes were received, noted by Members, and authorised for display on the website. The Parish Clerk confirmed the Community Sergeant will be in attendance at the next meeting to give a police update.
C056/20 10. PLAY SUPPLIERS.
The Parish Clerk asked that in consideration of commercial confidentiality, details of pricing and the next stage in the commissioning process be considered in the absence of press and public.
RESOLVED: Members agreed that this item be considered in part 2 of the agenda.
C057/20 11. STANDING ORDERS AND FINANCIAL REGULATION.
The Parish Clerk highlighted the importance of regularly reviewing standing orders and financial regulations to ensure they are compliant with best practice and statutory requirements.
Members, having received draft revised standing orders and financial regulations previously, agreed all revisions, asking for an addendum to be attached to the financial regulations summarising commissioning requirements.
RESOLVED: Members adopted the revised Standing Orders and Financial Regulations.
C058/20 12. REVIEW OF INVESTMENT POLICY.
The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer presented the Investment Policy for consideration by members. The policy informs the investment strategy for the year to come. The policy concentrates on low-risk investments that spread risk and affords protection for Parish Council funds.
RESOLVED: Members adopted the investment policy attached as appendix 1 to these minutes.
C059/20 13. 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.
C060/20 14. ANNUAL STATEMENT OF RISK.
The Deputy Parish Clerk 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are three main ways of managing risk:
- Take out insurance.
- Work with another party to reduce the risk; or
- Manage the risk yourself.
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.
The Parish Clerk asked Members to consider the annual statement of risk as contained in Appendix 2 and annexe attached to these minutes.
- Members considered and adopted the annual statement of risk (assessment and management) for 2020/2021.
- The Parish Clerk was instructed to take all actions indicated in the annual statement (attached as appendix 3)
C061/20 15. PARISH CLERK’S REPORT.
15.1 FINANCE REPORT: The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer presented a report on expenditure made and income received since the last meeting of the Parish Council.
RESOLVED: Members accepted this report asking it to be placed on the Parish Council website.
15.2 Financial Performance to the end of the financial quarter: Members agreed there were no issues requiring attention by the Finance Committee.
15.3 Health and Safety Report: Members received a report from the Parish Clerk and agreed that there were no required actions.
15.4 Internal Audit: The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer presented a letter from the Internal Auditor indicating the results of the interim internal audit. A full report from the internal auditor will be considered by the Parish Council once year end accounts are finalised.
Agenda – Part 2. Members will be asked to consider if there are matters that in consideration of Standing Order 46a and because of their special and confidential nature, require the exclusion of press and public.
- CONSIDERATION OF ANY MATTERS REFERRED FROM AGENDA PART 1.
C062/20 1. PLAY SUPPLIERS
Referred under minute C056/20 10.
The Parish Clerk detailed the process employed for the commissioning of replacement play equipment and surfacing at Liddells Field (including a hard surface MUGA) and Eastgreen. 5 suppliers had been asked to submit quotations and 3 of those had been included in stage 2 of the process following technical evaluation. Each of these companies made a presentation to a members’ working group, following which 2 were included in the final stage. A working group of members guided each stage of the process.
NCC lease the land at Liddells Field from CISWO, from whom permission is being sought as the landlord. Such permission will require a maintenance agreement between Choppington Parish Council and Northumberland County Council. Discussions are ongoing with Northumberland County Council to resolve any planning concerns.
RESOLVED: Members directed that those suppliers selected for the final stage be asked to make amendments to their designs to allow like for like comparison.
C063/20 2. Referred under minute C059/20
Members reviewed the investment strategy for 2020/21
RESOLVED: Members agreed to transfer into investments the sum of £100,000.
C064/20 3. GRANTS.
RESOLVED: Members agreed to award a grant of £680 to Stakeford Scouts to cover the cost of new windows.
There being no further business the meeting closed at 20:55.