21 April 2015 – Minutes
THAME TOWN COUNCIL
Minutes of a Meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee held on 21 April 2014 at 6.30pm in the Upper Chamber, Thame Town Hall.
Cllrs D Bretherton, D Dodds, M Dyer (Chairman), L Emery, H Fickling,
J Matelot Green (Town Mayor) and T Wyse
Cllr D Laver
G Hunt, Town Clerk
J Howells, Asset Manager
A Oughton, Committee Services Officer
M Robinson, Office Administration Manager
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Butler (Business), Dixon (Personal), Humphries (Holiday) and Lambert (Holiday).
2 Declarations of Interest
Cllrs Bretherton, Dodds, Dyer and Matelot Green declared an interest in Item 15: Thame Museum as trustees of the Museum. Cllr Dodds declared an interest in Item 9: Internal Audit Contract as a District Councillor and did not take part or vote during discussion of the item.
3 Public Participation
There were no applications to address the Committee.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 14 October 2014 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
5 Budget Summary
Members received the budget summary up to 28 February 2015. Various comments on the Budget Summary were responded to. A full set of the accounts were available for Members to view at the meeting.
6 Investment Update
Members noted that the level of investment had recovered quickly to that of a couple of years ago when funds had been withdrawn to purchase premises at Lupton Road. Investments continued to perform consistently across the markets.
7 Reports from Representatives on External Organisations
a) Barns Centre – Cllr Matelot Green reported that at the last meeting budgets and staff appraisals were discussed. Flowers had been presented to Cllr Matelot Green and the previous Town Clerk as it was the last meeting they would attend. The Barns Centre continued to perform well and had bookings throughout the remainder of the year.
b) Citizens Advice Bureau – Item 21b) carried a report from the Director of the Bureau.
c) NALC – Cllr Matelot Green reported that she had attended the OALC meeting last week with the Town Clerk and found it very interesting. One topic of discussion was on how larger councils should be defined i.e. by their population or the precept.
d) Thame Business Forum – Cllr Dyer reported that the last meeting had discussed issues related to Broadband and particularly the installation of two cabinets that served the industrial areas. Other topics included apprenticeships and the proposed ‘Open Door’ event. The business community was kept up to date with the Neighbourhood Plan and related developments.
e) Thame & District Housing Association – Impact of potential Southern Road plans and Right to Buy were mentioned.
f) 21st Century Thame – Cllr Fickling reported that Thame4Business had welcomed the Council’s decision to undertake a Retail Impact Study. The environment group was reviewing the footpaths on Lea Park and the equipment bank continued to do amazingly well. 21st Century Thame helped facilitate the Carnival by providing insurance for the event and the bank account.
Cllr Laver reported that Thame4Business was being regenerated and had suggested a number of initiatives. Thame Centre First were being encouraged to join forces with Thame4Business.
g) Welfare Trust – Cllr Fickling reported that the Trust continued to provide help to members of the community. Requests for assistance were made through a referral process.
8 Internal Audit
Following visits made by the Council’s Internal Auditor and subsequent reports it was noted that the Council continued to operate sound and effective financial controls and procedures.
i) The First Interim, the Interim Update and the Third Interim Internal Audit Reports 2014-15 be approved.
9 Internal Audit Contract
The Terms of Reference and the Audit Programme of Work to be used in regard to the appointment of an Internal Auditor on a five year contract had been agreed at Full Council. Five companies had been approached to submit a quotation and as a result four companies had responded.
Auditing Solutions Ltd had provided the contract for the last ten years and during that time had stringently tested the internal financial processes and procedures. The company was tried and tested and provided an efficient service which was fit for purpose.
i) Auditing Solutions Ltd be appointed as the Internal Auditor on a five year contract be approved.
10 Standing Orders
The proposed changes to Standing Orders reflected the current agreed practice which related to dispensations, gender of the Mayor, recording of meetings, use of social media in meetings, non-voting Members at Committees, advanced notice for motions. In addition it was proposed to add the wording ‘In a non-election year’ to the start of Standing Order 7.4(a).
i) The words “In a non-election year,” be added to the start of Standing Order 7.4(a) be approved.
ii) Other changes to Standing Orders 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 24 and 31 in red in the draft attached to the agenda be ratified.
11 Full Council AGM and Civic Reception Date Change
The current scheduling of the Full Council Annual General Meeting on 12 May 2015 did not allow sufficient time between the results of the election being declared and the date of the meeting. It was therefore proposed to cancel the Full Council AGM on 12 May and replace it with an initial induction/training session for all elected Councillors. The Full Council AGM would take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday 19 May 2015.
The Civic Reception scheduled for 12 May 2015 would be cancelled and rescheduled to a date to be agreed with the incoming Mayor.
i) The Full Council AGM currently scheduled for 6.30pm on 12 May 2015 be cancelled and replaced with an initial induction/training session for all elected Councillors.
ii) The Civic Reception currently scheduled for 7.30pm on 12 May 2015 be cancelled and rescheduled to a date in June agreed with the incoming Mayor.
iii) The Full Council AGM be rescheduled to 6.30pm on 19 May 2015.
iv) It is noted that the full 2015/16 Schedule of Meetings will be proposed at the Council meeting on 28 April 2015.
12 Swimming Pool/Oxfordshire County Council Payment
Members noted the summary update provided by the previous Town Clerk. The Council’s position would be to continue to investigate the situation with a view to moving towards a satisfactory resolution.
13 Member/Officer Protocol
A number of minor changes had been made to the Protocol in a tidying up exercise. The Protocol provided good advice to both Members and Officers.
i) The Member/Officer Protocol be approved.
14 Food Bank
The Town Council had received a request from Sharing Life Trust to use the ground floor office and some open space within the main internal area of the Depot at Lupton Road to relocate the Food Bank. The Food Bank had grown significantly over the years since its inception and was now finding it difficult to maintain operations and storage from its existing location.
After discussion it was agreed that the Depot would not be an appropriate base for the Food Bank due to concerns around the storage of food products in the main depot area, security of the building, its allocation as a Business Continuity facility, access and mixed use. However, the Council would do all it could to support Sharing Life Trust in its continued service provision.
15 Thame Museum
The annual inspection of the building was carried out on 2 February 2015 in line with the terms of the Lease. It was noted there were a number of ongoing issues and that in some cases the responsibility for the work had not been assigned to the correct organisation.
i) The Annual Inspection Report was noted.
ii) The actions in the Report be approved and implemented by the responsible organisations.
16 Fees and Charges
The hiring fees for the Meeting Room, the Upper Chamber and Southern Road Recreational Ground (SRRG) were last reviewed in September 2014. There was some discussion as to whether the beginning of the financial year was the correct time to review the charges as opposed to September when the budget was being considered.
i) The charge for hiring the Meeting Room to remain at £12 per hour.
ii) The charge for hiring the Upper Chamber to remain at £27 and £14 per hour.
iii) The charge for hiring SRRG football pitch to remain at £32 and £35 (inclusive of VAT) per game.
17 Local Government Ombudsman
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) had issued a consultation on whether individual members of the public should be able to refer larger parish/town councils to the Local Government Ombudsman in the event they felt let down by their parish or town council. It was agreed that the Town Clerk would draft a response on behalf of the Council. The draft response would be circulated to Members before submission to the consultation.
18 Business Open Door Event
A request had been received from the Business Forum to close the Lower High Street Car Park and provide free use of the Upper Chamber at the Town Hall for an event to showcase local businesses. Members of the Forum felt very few people knew what companies were based in the town or knew their name but did not know what the company produced. The event would be held on Saturday 11 July 2015 and would enable businesses to interact with the community.
i) Free use of the Upper Chamber and closure of the Lower High Street Car Park for the Open Door Event on Saturday 11 July 2015 be approved.
19 Car Park Grace Period
Members noted the grace period had been extended to 10 minutes from 1 April 2015 in line with the Deregulation Bill and revised Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on the Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions.
20 Compliments and Complaints
Members noted the report. It was confirmed that all verbal complaints were followed up and acted upon.
21 For Information
Members noted the reports received from Thame Citizens Advice Bureau, Staying Alive Thame and CCTV. A question was raised on the reduction in cost for CCTV if there was a reduction in the number of cameras. This would be followed up by the Town Clerk.
The meeting concluded at 7.54pm
Chairman, 21 July 2015