WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
83. APPROVAL OF APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
All Members were present.
84. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillors Gerstmann, Malik, Sohal and Vyas enquired whether interests should be declared in relation to consideration of the arrangements for the new Parish Land. The Clerk advised that this was unlikely but, should any conflict arise, she would notify them when the item was discussed. Therefore, no declarations of interest were recorded at this point.
85. CONSIDERATION OF DISPENSATION APPLICATIONS RELATING TO THE CODE OF CONDUCT
No dispensations were required.
86. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 11TH SEPTEMBER 2012
The Minutes of the Meeting of 11th September 2012 were approved as a correct record.
87. MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 9TH OCTOBER 2012
The Minutes of the Meeting of 9th October 2012 were approved as a correct record.
Under matters arising the Clerk confirmed that the vacancy arising from Keith Nunn’s resignation had now been advertised.
Arrangements for the forthcoming Annual Christmas Fundraising Event were discussed. Councillor Gahir proposed an alternative venue. However, it was agreed that it would be too late to alter the venue for this year and this could be further considered no later than September of next year. It was also agreed that this year’s event would take place on the 14th December and the recipients of the charity donation being made by the Council would be as follows: Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust (50%); Age Concern (25%); and People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (25%). Members were asked to provide prizes for a raffle, and to bring food for a buffet table on the night. The Clerk would approach the Bowls Club as usual regarding the use of their premises.
88. CONSIDERATION OF THE MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING HELD ON 25TH OCTOBER 2012
The validity of the Special Meeting Minutes was questioned by both the Finance Clerk, due to the content and instructions therein, and the Clerk, due to the Councillor who had recorded them having been implicated in the item that was considered. A discussion ensued, and retired Councillor Dave Davies pointed out that both of the Officers had offered advice that should not be ignored. The Clerk advised that such discussion should take place in a Part II meeting. Councillor Malik had arranged a meeting with the Monitoring Officer to obtain independent advice and, in the meantime, it was agreed that any further discussion should be deferred.
89. POLICE AND COMMUNITY WARDEN LIAISON
PCSO Barny Skinner clarified the recent changes to the Neighbourhood Policing Structure. Halloween and bonfire night patrols had been successful and only minor incidents had been reported. Several calls had been received in relation to hospital parking problems and tickets were being issued as necessary.
Community Warden Michelle Hewitt provided updates relating to fly-tipping and garage sites. She advised that the team had now been cut back from twelve to six and wardens would no longer be designated to specific areas. Attendance at Council meetings may not be possible, but we would be kept informed by email as necessary. The camps on the land adjacent to Forest Close were still being monitored.
PCSO Skinner and Ms Hewitt were thanked for attending this meeting.
90. APPROVAL FOR INSTALLATION OF VERGE PROTECTION IN DORNELS
A quote for the installation of ‘Grassguard’ surfacing in Dornels had been received in the sum of £6,527.61 + VAT.
A letter from SBC’s Ian Coventry was handed to the Chairman by Councillor Sohal. It had been agreed that match-funding would be provided by the Borough Council for verge protection works in Wexham Court. This news was very welcomed by all present and Councillor Sohal would convey the Parish Council’s sincere thanks. Councillor Vyas would clarify the details relating to payment arrangements in due course. The Grass Verge/Traffic Working Group would arrange an estate walkabout to identify further areas requiring protection.
RESOLVED: That the sum of £6,527.61 be approved for Dornels, pending receipt of the promised match-funding.
91. CONSIDERATION OF COSTS RELATING TO NEW PLAY FACILITY
The Members considered the quotes received for fencing, groundwork and equipment for the proposed new play area south of the tennis courts. Retired Councillor Dave Davies had carried out a risk assessment on the area and raised some Health & Safety concerns in regard to the instability of the land and the possible risk of injury to a child due to the wet and boggy state of the ground. There was nothing in the project plans to suggest that this had been considered. He reminded Members that a car had become trapped in the ground some time back, and then the JCB that was sent to tow it out had also become trapped. This had resulted in a mudbath and large ruts, and the ground had to be levelled and re-seeded. The Clerk offered to provide photographs of the incident should Members wish to see them. Mr Davies also highlighted the possibility that the equipment being installed could subside.
Councillor Zeib enquired whether a further risk assessment was required, and why this was being discussed at such a late stage in the project. The Clerk advised that she had raised her concerns about the state of the land at an early stage but it had been disregarded.
The Chairman clarified that the company chosen to install the play equipment would carry out their own assessment of the land beforehand, and a safety certificate would be provided once the work was completed.
The matter of insurance was raised and Councillor Vyas advised that the Borough Council would provide Public Liability Insurance. The Parish Council would only need to insure the equipment/fencing and a quote for this would be obtained.
The Finance Clerk advised that, although this project was not currently included in the annual budget, sums could be reallocated to cover the costs. The equipment was being provided by SBC from Section 106 funding, leaving the fencing, groundwork, and other items to be funded by the Parish. This was discussed and it was unanimously agreed that the project should go ahead at the earliest opportunity.
RESOLVED: That Standing Orders Item No. 86 be rescinded for this project in favour of using preferred contractors.
92. CONSIDERATION OF ARRANGEMENTS FOR NEW PARISH LAND
The Clerk confirmed that all Members could take part in this item since there were no pecuniary interests to be raised. Various options were discussed, further to the presentation by Mr Rice at the last meeting, and the Clerk and Chairman clarified the terms of the Agreement for Lease.
Councillor Sohal suggested that keeping the lease would incur additional costs to the Parish for future maintenance of the land, which was currently an eyesore. He advised that surrender of the lease would result in sixteen homes being built, which would result in an increased income being gained via the Precept. The Clerk explained that this would have no effect on overall income since the Precept was paid as a set amount regardless of the number of properties in the Parish. Councillor Sohal told her to just take the minutes and not interfere, but she responded by stating that it was her job to offer advice to the Council. Councillor Gahir also questioned the Precept arrangements and the Finance Clerk confirmed the advice offered by the Clerk.
Councillor Donachy suggested that the lease could be traded for something that would benefit the community, such as a meeting place for young people and the elderly. The Clerk suggested that an extension of the existing leases to 125 years could also be negotiated, with a clause to ensure that the land continued to be used for recreational facilities in the future. Councillor Zeib questioned this idea and the Clerk explained that it would provide a long-term benefit to the residents of the Parish.
Councillor Sohal proposed a motion, seconded by Councillor Zeib, that the Council agree to enter into formal negotiations with SBC to ascertain the level of compensation that would be available on surrender of the Agreement for Lease, and that two Members be nominated to conduct the negotiations and report back to Council. It was agreed that a Working Group be formed for this purpose consisting of Councillors Donachy, Gahir, Zeib and the Chairman, and that a meeting of this group would take place prior to any further meeting with SBC.
93. INFORMATION REPORTS - MEMBERS & BOROUGH COUNCILLORS
Councillor Donachy reported that he had attended various meetings of the Council but regretted that he had missed one or two due to a recent illness.
Councillor Gerstmann had also attended several meetings during the last month, including the Special Meeting and play area discussions. He also continued to monitor the camp issues adjacent to Forest Close.
Councillor Gahir had attended the recent Forum Meeting and reported on the agenda items relating to Section 106 funding, grass verge protection, and hospital parking. He again raised the matter of a gate being installed at the north end of the allotment site and questioned why the Clerk had included in the minutes that no enquiries had been received by her or the Finance Clerk. She reiterated that, as the managers of the allotment site, any such requests or enquiries from tenants should be directed to the Officers. She also reiterated that the Council had agreed not to spend any further public funds on the site, hence the fact that she and the Chairman had been undertaking a lot of hard work themselves to clear plots ready for new tenants.
A question was raised as to why the membership of the F&GP Committee had not been included on the Agenda. The Clerk explained that she had previously received requests for the Agenda to be kept as brief as possible as some Members wanted to get away early to celebrate Diwali, and it had therefore been necessary to defer some non-urgent items to a later meeting. She advised that no item could be formally decided unless the matter to which it related was included on an Agenda. This resulted in further questions being raised in relation to the role of the Clerk. In order to prevent further disruption of the meeting, the Chairman agreed to permit a show of hands to consider the appointment of Councillor Malik to the F&GP Committee and this was approved.
Councillor Vyas expressed his thanks to the Members who attended his pre-meetings relating to the new play area project. He reported that various gating and fencing projects were being considered by SBC for the benefit of local communities, and invited suggestions. The Clerk reminded Members that staggered barriers had previously been requested in the two alleyways between Norway Drive and Almons Way/Bell Close to prevent speeding motorcycles using these shortcuts.
The Chairman reported that he continued to carry out regular estate inspections and various work at the allotment site. He pointed out that the Probation Team had also carried out a good deal of useful work during their regular visits on the second Thursday of each month. A wreath had been laid on behalf of the Parish at the recent Remembrance Day Service and this had been a very pleasant day.
94. FINANCIAL REPORT
The Finance Clerk submitted the Financial Statement for the 1st to 30th September and invited questions from Members.
It was agreed that the next Finance & General Purpose meeting would take place on the 22nd November at 7pm, for which various agenda items were discussed.
The Finance Clerk was instructed to provide an unedited version of the finance statements at every meeting of Full Council so that all data could be made available for inspection by the Members.
The question of online banking was raised and Councillor Gerstmann advised that online multiple signing could now be arranged for business accounts. The Finance Clerk advised that Parish Councils are subject to specific laws in this regard, but that consultations were currently taking place with a view to changing the relevant legislation. Further legal guidance was awaited but she warned that, even if the law is amended, the necessary software to facilitate electronic banking under the revised guidelines would be expensive.
RESOLVED: That the Finance Statement for September 2012 be approved, and authority be given for twenty-five cheques to be signed.
95. REPORT OF THE CLERK AND PLANNING MATTERS
No planning issues had been raised this month and the Clerk wished to report nothing further at the current time.
96. AGENDA ITEMS 14 & 15
Due to time constraints these items, relating to a request for a clothing recycling bank and Main Hall flooring maintenance, were deferred to a later meeting.
97. PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
There were no public questions raised.
The Meeting closed at 9.50pm.
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