WEXHAM COURT PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES of the SPECIAL MEETING of the COUNCIL held on Tuesday, the
13th August, 2013, at the Parish Hall, Norway Drive, Wexham, Slough.
Councillors Sandra Malik (Chairman),
Trevor Allen, Patrick Donachy, Carl Egan, Harjinder Singh Gahir, and Paul Sohal.
Officers: Tina Kellett (RFO/Acting Clerk).
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
Councillors Robert Aldridge (working), Raja Fayyaz, Shabana Zeib.
The Clerk (on sick leave).
Councillor Munawar Hussain.
59. APPROVAL OF APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
RESOLVED: That apologies for absence offered in respect of this meeting be approved.
60. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillors Malik and Sohal declared an interest in relation to their roles as Borough Councillors.
61. CONSIDERATION OF DISPENSATION APPLICATIONS RELATING TO THE CODE OF CONDUCT
No applications were submitted.
62. ALLOTMENT PAYMENTS
Councillor Allen had been notified by the RFO that previous Council had ruled not to include the bank details on allotment invoices to enable direct bank payments. It was proposed that this ruling be changed to allow for quicker payments and less handling of cash. The question was asked about visibility of the payments as we are not allowed internet banking. It was proposed that the frequency of bank statements be changed to weekly. Both proposals were unanimously approved.
63. CARETAKER VACANCY
Councillor Allen had advertised in local papers and newsagents and reported that there had been a strong response. A short-list of suitable candidates was agreed and interviews had taken place. Councillor Allen proposed that the two most suitable candidates Monty Ounich and John Morrison be offered the jobs on a zero contract basis of no guaranteed hours, paid only for hours worked with a six month trial period. It was suggested that no pension be offered at this time. Councillor Allen expressed his concerns that Monty Ounich was not living in the Parish. This was discussed and it was agreed that the Council had fulfilled its duty advertising and interviewing for the position inside and outside the Parish. Councillor Egan stated that the decision had been made based upon the best candidate to fill the vacancy. Councillor Donachy asked about CRB checks as he felt this was important for the role in view of potential contact with children at the hall. It was confirmed that Mr Ounich had a valid CRB certificate.
The RFO asked if a hand over period was needed before Ken Whitehead left and mentioned that he may be persuaded to stay on a bit longer. Councillor Malik stated that Ken had been obnoxious when speaking to her and Councillor Sohal said the sooner he goes the better. It was decided to not delay Ken from leaving.
Councillor Malik queried why the current caretaker sometimes took on some of the cleaning duties. The RFO responded that it was normal procedure for the caretaker to do general maintenance after hall hire to ensure the hall is left in good order before the next hire. Councillor Malik would like the matter looked into at a later date questioning the need for a cleaner if the caretaker carries out the work as well.
Councillor Donachy stated that SBC had access to the Cherries and had left the gates open when grass cutting but did not empty bins. It was suggested that the new caretakerís role be extended to litter picking and that the duties were to cover the hall and all grounds within the parish including The Cherries and allotments.
The matter of paying mileage expenses to the caretaker was discussed and if the caretaker used his car for business/work related purposes whilst at work this would be reimbursed upon submission of a claim, but it was felt that generally speaking their duties would not require the use of a car.
The offer was to be made on a £7.67 per hour basis and this would be reviewed after six months to a year. This was unanimously approved.
64. PARISH HALL BOOKINGS
Councillor Malik wanted better arrangements put in place to take bookings all day any time. Councillor Allen stated that through family he had personal experience of trying to book the hall and was refused for October dates due to having no caretaker. Councillor Allen was aware of the two week rule regarding bookings but not about the caretaker. The booking clerk had advised that these were the instructions she had been given. Also the issue of taking cash for short notice hall bookings had been refused and as a result bookings had gone to other halls outside the Parish.
Councillor Malik had since spoken to the booking clerk and instructed her to take bookings, for any period, short notice, and for cash if necessary. Councillor Malik was keen to see the hall booked as much as possible.
Councillor Sohal asked if the working group had met to discuss the hall bookings issue. Councillor Allen advised that they had met but still needed information that had not yet been provided. The RFO confirmed that the job descriptions/procedural guides had now been provided and the RFO offer letter copy had been given to Councillor Malik but could not provide contracts of employment for any member of staff. It was possible that the booking clerk having worked for the council 20+ years may never have been given a contract of employment but the RFO could not confirm this as it fell outside of her duties and control.
Councillor Donachy mentioned the consequences of not having proper employment contracts in place and that the matter should be addressed.
Councillor Gahir stated that he wanted to review all costs for employees and not just the booking clerk.
The RFO advised that all costs were detailed on the accounts and that the information was available to them to extract. Councillor Gahir stated that even if the information is within the accounts it is for the clerks to extract that information and prepare it for the councillors. Councillor Sohal stated that whilst it was easy for the clerk to point at the information in the accounts he agreed with Councillor Gahir that it should be provided for the Council to review.
Councillor Malik made the statement that the clerks took three months paid leave each year due to recess in August and December and January. The RFO corrected this statement and explained that whilst Council was in recess the clerks continued to carry out their normal duties and worked throughout. The recess periods just meant that council did not hold regular monthly full council meetings. Councillor Egan re-stated and confirmed this to be the case.
Councillor Gahir questioned how it was possible that the Clerk was able provide working cover for both the booking clerk and the cleaner which along with her own role was effectively carrying out three jobs simultaneously. The RFO pointed out that it was entirely possible for the Clerk to do this since all jobs were part-time, but that it would have meant working at unsociable hours.
The RFO asked Council to specifically state the costs they required and it would be provided.
Councillor Gahir asked for Booking Clerk information as follows:
All Pay for the previous Financial Year; employersí National Insurance costs; office & accommodation costs; telephone expense claims.
The RFO then asked why the booking clerk telephone expense claim was being withheld and stated it was unreasonable of Council to expect the booking clerk to take bookings and calls from hall hirers if they were not willing to reimburse her costs. Councillor Malik explained that the telephone expenses were under query and asked why were the telephone bills for a number other than the telephone number advertised for the hall booking clerk.
Councillor Allen explained that he had spoken with BT and had been advised that the booking clerk would have a split line to allow a personal number for private calls and the other number specifically for hall booking calls. There is no extra charge for this facility but it was the reason for it being a different phone number but not a separate phone line.
Councillor Gahir then questioned why did Council pay the full telephone bill and suggested that it should be a 50:50 split between business and private. Councillor Sohal expressed concerns that public funds were being used to pay private phone bills. Councillor Malik agreed to release the telephone expenses claim in this instance but that the booking clerk should be advised that future expenses claims should be on a 50:50 basis. The RFO explained that the booking clerk was acting properly in her expenses claim as this had been agreed and approved by previous Councils to pay the full telephone bill, but felt that providing it was explained to the booking clerk that the council wished to change to 50:50 basis it may be acceptable.
The RFO then asked Council to confirm that they wished her to cover the booking clerkís holiday period as normally this was covered by the Clerk who was currently on sick absence. Also, if the RFO were to take on the holiday cover, at what rate of pay. Council approved the RFO to cover the holiday period at the booking clerkís rate of pay.
65. KEYS FOR PARISH HALL
Councillor Malik had asked for a full set of keys but these had not yet been provided. Councillor Egan asked if Councillor Malik had the small set of keys and asked whether they were not enough. Councillor Malik explained that councillors should have access to ALL areas and that the costs of a full set had been approved in the previous meeting. Councillor Egan explained that the Clerk was the Guardian of the Councilís documents and that access to the office and archived information could not be permitted. The RFO explained that all councillors may go in the office providing that a clerk/proper officer was present at the time. Therefore whilst it would not be appropriate to give a key to the office, councillors had only to ask to be allowed entry by arrangement. The RFO offered immediate access in the meeting, but this was declined.
Councillor Sohal asked that clerks ensure that all keys are handed back when the current caretaker left Councilís employment.
Councillors wished to obtain two full sets of keys, at whatever cost, to be made available as soon as possible. The RFO explained it may not be possible to get extra shutter fobs but would look into the matter.
Councillor Gahir suggested that the Clerk should return her keys whilst on sick absence. Both Councillors Egan and Donachy advised it was not necessary to take the keys back at this time. Councillor Malik said this was a re-structuring issue to be discussed at some time in the future.
66. PARISH OFFICE
As previously discussed access was available to all councillors but a clerk/proper officer must be present. As Guardian of the Councilís records, which the officers were legally required to maintain and keep secure, unlimited access could not be permitted.
67. OTHER BUSINESS DISCUSSED
The RFO confirmed that the councillor vacancy left by Peter Gerstmann had now been advertised. Councillor Malik questioned how much the last election had cost the Council. The RFO explained that the costs had not yet been charged to the Council so could not say how much it would be.
Councillor Donachy had been told by the Chinese Takeaway that Mr Kulaga had taken between £180 and £200 from them in cash for CCTV. The RFO reiterated that this was not Councilís problem and it should not get involved with the matter.
Councillor Gahir advised that Shelly Squires of TVP had said the shops concerned should put the matter in writing and it would be looked into. Councillor Sohal confirmed we should not get involved. The RFO advised Council that we had been successful in obtaining the attachment of earnings and the first £100 had been paid into court. Council should be satisfied that we were now being reimbursed and the matter should be left at that.
Councillor Gahir expressed his gratitude to the RFO for the successful outcome of the CCJ against Mr Kulaga.
A councillor asked if the cheque had been raised for the Brownies donation and the RFO confirmed it had now been passed to Councillor Gahir to deliver.
Councillor Allen asked about the parish hall CCTV leases. The RFO explained that the finance company had been asked for settlement figures but had been given only zero value letters for all equipment. However, invoices had been received for the next year in the amount of £2500 for hall and £365 for bowls club and a further £437 for annual maintenance.
It was suggested by Councillor Allen that the RFO ask if there are any penalties and what notice is required to end the contracts as Council was looking into the possibility of joining the SBC CCTV network and that a viewing appointment would be made with SBC.
Councillor Malik asked that following the SBC governance review the letter received from Peter Edwards be displayed inside and outside of the parish hall for public viewing and to allow parish members to respond accordingly. Councillor Sohal requested that the review be included in next monthís agenda to allow proper discussion of its findings.
Councillor Gahir asked for cost comparisons for fire equipment maintenance as he was concerned that CHUBB (current supplier) was expensive and that any costs be to be paid out should be mentioned as part of the clerks report at full Council meetings in order that it is brought to Councilís attention and made public. The RFO explained that all costs were agreed in the budget and it was acceptable for the clerks to carry out these works as necessary.
Councillor Donachy asked if there was sufficient budget in hall maintenance to allow for further yellow line painting in the car park to stop the bowls club blocking spaces. This was agreed.
Councillor Gahir stated that as part of the agreement to pay for BALC and SLCC council were to be given the publications to read. The RFO agreed these would be brought to the next meeting.
Councillor Sohal asked why the Chairmanís allowance had not been paid. The RFO explained that it was now to be paid half yearly, retrospectively, upon request. Councillor Malik asked that her allowance be paid to Stoke Green Cricket Club as a donation on behalf of the council.
The Meeting closed at 9.35 p.m.
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