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MINUTES OF THE FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING
HELD ON MONDAY 13th JANUARY, 2003 AT 7.30 P.M.
IN THE COMMITTEE ROOM, MOOT HALL .
Amendments.

PRESENT: Chairman: Cllr. S. Thain
Councillors: E. Bannister, Mrs. S. Riesebeck, P. Roberts (Town Mayor)
and T. Shrimpton.
In Attendance: Cllr. S. Savage, the Town Clerk, l member of the press,
District Councillor Keighley and one member of the public.
Absent: Cllrs. M. Bentley, Mrs. M. Curtis and P. Rew
 72. APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE

An apology for absence was received from Cllr. W. Prior who was attending another meeting.
 73. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 26 NOVEMBER, 2002

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 26 November, 2002 be approved and adopted.
 74.

 74.1
FINANCIAL REPORTS

Receipts and Expenditure

Members received and considered:

a. Financial reports detailing receipts and expenditure for the period 1 April 2002 to 7 January, 2003.

b. A list of cheques and Standing Orders for supplies and services in excess of £500 from 1 December to 31 December, 2002.

With regard to receipts and expenditure the Town Clerk informed members that there was an overspend on estimates in respect of Training/Attendance at meetings. This was due to the fact that the Town Clerk would be undertaking the last two modules of the Local Policy Course at the University of Gloucestershire during this financial year instead of the next financial year. This will mean that there should be a saving in the 2003/04 estimates.

The Town Clerk also made reference to the fact that although there appeared to be an overspend in respect of Maldon in Bloom there was a considerable amount of income shown under receipts.

RESOLVED: that (a) the report attached as Appendix "A" to these minutes detailing receipts and expenditure be noted;

(b) the list of cheques and Standing Orders in excess of £500 be noted.
 74.2 Donations - Letters of Thanks

Members were informed that letters of thanks had been received from:

(a) Plume Sixth Form College in respect of the donation of £150 forwarded to assist with the Senior Citizens' Christmas Party (minute 64.2 of the Finance & General Purposes Committee held on 26 November, 2002 refers);

(b) West Maldon Community Association in respect of the donation of £4,000 forwarded to assist with furnishings for the building extension (minute 64.3 of the Finance & General Purposes Committee held on 26 November, 2002 refers).

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 74.3 Subscriptions

(a) Society of Local Council Clerks

Members were informed that the annual subscription to the Society of Local Council Clerks was due for renewal.

RESOLVED: that the subscription to the Society of Local Council Clerks be renewed for 2003 at a cost of £68. (L.G.Act 1972 s.143)

(b) Local Council Review

Members were informed that the annual subscription in respect of the Local Council Review, the official journal of the National Association of Local Councils, is due for renewal.

RESOLVED: that the Town Council subscribes to the Local Council Review for 2003/04 at a fee of £11.59. (L.G.Act 1972 s.142)
 74.4 Course - Insurance Briefing

Members were informed that notification had been received from the Essex Association of Local Councils of an "Insurance Briefing" course to be held on Wednesday 22 January, 2003 at Foakes Hall, Great Dunmow.

RESOLVED: that the Town Clerk attends the "Insurance Briefing" and the course fee of £5 be paid by the Town Council (L.G.Act 1972 s.175)
 74.5 Training

Members were informed that notification had been received of a new Government training course which provides a "new way of training that puts the right skills into your business". The pilot in the Essex region is called Profit from Learning and is being organised through the Witham Technology Centre. Profit from Learning gives employers the following benefits: Free information, advice and guidance, free tuition, assessment and certification costs and in most cases, cash compensation for the time taken off work for training and assessment. 90% of the training takes place in the workplace.

RESOLVED: that a Business Adviser from Witham Technology Centre "Profit from Learning" visit the office to discuss the matter further and providing there are no cost implications Mrs. Janice Grant undertakes the NVQ Level 2 qualification. (L.G.Act 1972 s.119).
 74.6 Guaranteed Investment Bond

Further to minute 64.5 of the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 26 November, 2002 members received a report (copy circulated at the meeting) regarding further investigations which had been undertaken in respect of interest rates for the investment of £50,000 in a six month Guaranteed Investment Bond. It was noted from the report that the Co-operative Bank offered the highest rate of interest.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the Town Council invests £50,000 in a six month Guaranteed Investment Bond;

(b) the signatories to open a Guaranteed Investment Bond be limited to the Town Mayor, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Finance & General Purposes Committee and the Town Clerk.
 74.7 Internal Audit

Members received and considered:

(a) a report of the Internal Auditor on his Interim Audit visit on 5 December, 2002.

RESOLVED: that the report be noted;

(b) the annual Risk Assessment report undertaken by Cllr. P. Rew and the Town Clerk from which it was noted that all the recommended action had been taken. Members went through the report and Cllr. Savage said he was not satisfied with the assessment in respect of the stage. In view of the fact that the stage area was to be discussed later in the meeting it was

RECOMMENDED: that the risk assessment be accepted with the exception of that part relating to the stage area.

(c) a report indicating that although the Town Council had appointed an "external" internal auditor it was a requirement of the Audit Commission that Internal Inspections should also be undertaken. In view of this it was

RESOLVED: that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Finance & General Purposes Committee undertake an Internal Inspection of the Town Council accounts prior to the end of the financial year. Cllr. Shrimpton also expressed an interest in being in attendance when the inspection took place.
  .
The Chairman declared an interest in the following item.
In the Chair Cllr. P. Roberts
 74.8 Business 'Broadband'

Members received and considered correspondence from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) regarding a competition they were launching to introduce 'Broadband' into communities and generally improve IT infrastructure.

It was noted from the details that, although it was not necessary for a Town Council to co-ordinate the competition entry, a co-ordinator and five other individuals who wanted 'Broadband' and were prepared to organise the competition entry were required.

Cllr. Savage reported that, as Maldon does not have Cable, the system that would be installed would be Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and not 'Broadband'. It was reported that there are various alternative ways of introducing Broadband e.g. through radio and satellite.

Members were of the opinion that the matter should be pursued and as Councillor Savage had expressed an interest in co-ordinating the competition entry it was suggested that the Town Council find five other individuals/businesses interested in participating. In this connection, it was suggested that Heybridge Parish Council and the Maldon Chamber of Trade & Commerce should be approached.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the Town Clerk approaches Heybridge Parish Council and the Maldon Chamber of Trade & Commerce to try to find five other individuals/businesses interested in taking part in the EEDA 'Broadband' competition;

(b) if the above proved successful, Councillor Savage should co-ordinate the entry form.
  .
In the Chair Cllr. S. Thain
 75. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

Members received and considered the report of the Town Clerk regarding the Christmas Lights (copy circulated to all members of the Council). It was noted it had been agreed at the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 18 June, 2001 that (a) the tender from Festive Illuminated Lighting be accepted for the 2002 Christmas Season; (b) if the lighting during the 2002 Season proved successful then the contract be extended for a further two year period. Accordingly members were requested to consider whether the tender should be extended.

Discussion ensued regarding the situation of the lights during the 2002 Christmas Season and in answer to a question the Town Clerk confirmed that the lights were held in storage by Festive Illuminated Lighting and that this was a condition of the contract. Reference was made to a "liquidated damages clause" being included in the Christmas Decorations' contract. From the circulated report it was noted that the Town Centre Manager, Basildon had indicated that she would be prepared to visit Maldon and advise members of their experiences in the purchase and installation of new lights at Basildon. In view of this it was

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the Town Centre Manager, Basildon be invited to attend the next meeting of the Finance & General Purposes Committee;

(b) the review of the Christmas Decorations' contract be considered at the Committee meeting to be held on 4 March, 2003.
 76.

 76.1
TOWN HALL

Hire

Members received and considered the report of the Town Clerk (copy circulated to all members of the Council) advising that at the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 14 January, 2002 it had been agreed that the Happy Hour Club be charged a total of £8.00 per session and that the hire charge be reviewed on an annual basis. The report also detailed a request received from the Friendship Club for a reduction in their weekly charge. It was pointed out that the full hire charge for both Clubs would be £12.00 per session.

In view of the fact that both Clubs were comprised of senior citizens it was

RECOMMENDED: that the Happy Hour Club and the Friendship Club be charged a total hire fee of £8.00 per session throughout 2003 (LG Act 1972 s.144).
 76.2 Town Hall Stage Inspection

Further to minute 54.1 of the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 14 October, 2002 members received a letter from Suffolk Scenery regarding their inspection of the stage. In conjunction with this a letter from the Pantomime Society, commenting on the contents of the letter from Suffolk Scenery, was circulated to members. Whilst discussing this matter reference was also made to the risk assessment undertaken in respect of the stage area and Cllr. Savage said that he did not consider that this was adequate. He felt the stage should be a medium risk area when not in use and high risk when being used for stage productions. In response, Cllr. Roberts expressed the view that the Town Council could not be responsible for the risk assessment in respect of the stage when it was being used for productions and it should then be up to the hirers to undertake their own risk assessment.

Cllr. Savage also expressed concern regarding various Health & Safety matters such as the winding mechanism and electrical sockets. With regard to some of the electrical sockets, the Town Clerk said that, if these were classified as portable appliances, she would arrange for them to be included in the annual electrical inspection. Discussion ensued regarding maintenance of stage items and the fact that there should be signs advising as to operation etc. Cllr. Savage indicated that he would be prepared to produce such signs but it was agreed that as he did not have Health & Safety qualifications this would be inappropriate. The Chairman was of the opinion that, as the Town Council subscribed to the National Association of Local Councils, their advice should be sought as to contacts for the inspection of stage areas. The Town Clerk said an article could also be placed in various local government papers seeking advice from other parish/town councils with responsibilities for stage areas; local theatres could also be contacted.

Cllr. Savage also made reference to the damaged rods as detailed in the letter from Suffolk Scenery stating that he felt some of the bars had been erected in the wrong location. After discussion, it was

RECOMMENDED: that (a) a suitable date be arranged for members of the Committee to have a look at these items on the stage;

(b) investigations be undertaken, as detailed above, regarding professional advice for the maintenance of the stage area to comply with Health & Safety regulations;

(c) the risk assessment in respect of the stage area be deferred until the next Committee meeting.
 76.3 Base-Line on Ice Skating Event

Further to minute 42.3 of the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 3 September, 2002 members recalled that a Base-Line on Ice event should have been held on 16 November, 2002. However, the date was subsequently booked for a private hire and the Base-Line event had not taken place. In view of this it was

RECOMMENDED: that a Base-Line on Ice event be held either at half-term or during the Easter holiday and the £500 hire fee be vired from Estimate Head - Primrose Meadow.
 77. TOURS OF THE MOOT HALL

Further to minute 69.1(c) of the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 26 November, 2002 members received the report of the Town Clerk (copy circulated to all members of the Council) detailing the income and expenditure since 1 April, 2002 in respect of Moot Hall tours/donations. In this respect members were asked to consider whether there should be any amendments to the charging policy in respect of Moot Hall tours. Members were reminded that the present charges for tours of the Moot Hall were £1.00 per adult and 50p per child (adults accompanying groups of school children were admitted free) and there was no charge for pupils from Maldon Schools.

The Chairman made reference to a radio interview regarding schools in Nottingham using a Victorian Court Room as part of the Citizenship curriculum; he felt that this could be something to be pursued with local schools and the Maeldune Trust could also be involved. Members agreed with this suggestion and the view was also expressed that all tours of the Moot Hall should be free with donations being invited. In view of the fact that the budget for 2003/04 has now been set, it was agreed that the charge could not be removed for the forthcoming year and it was

RECOMMENDED: that (a) there be no change in the charges for Moot Hall tours during 2003/04 but when the matter was considered again in conjunction with the 2004/05 estimates, consideration should be given to the removal of all charges;

(b) the Plume School be contacted regarding the possibility of the Moot Hall being used to form part of the Citizenship curriculum.
 78. CCTV

Members received the report of the Town Clerk (copy circulated to all members of the Council), from which it was noted that Cllr. Bannister and the Town Clerk had attended a further meeting with Mr. R., Stannard, Crime Prevention Officer and Mr. R. Holmes, Maldon District Council to discuss the specification documents that were to be issued. The closing date for quotations was 24 January, 2003 and the Town Council would be notified when a working set-up of equipment was to take place.

RECOMMENDED: that the report be noted.
 79. MINUTES OF THE MAELDUNE TRUST MEETING HELD ON 19 NOVEMBER, 2002

Members received and considered the minutes of the Maeldune Trust meeting held on 19 November, 2002 (copy circulated to all members of the Council).

RECOMMENDED: that the minutes be noted.
 80. WHITE HORSE LANE PUBLIC CONVENIENCES

Members were informed that the White Horse Lane Public Convenience attendants had reported on 5 December, 2002, that a number of tiles on the roof had been broken and he had swept them up from the road; the drainpipe had also been damaged and consequently emergency repair works had been undertaken. It would appear that the damage could have been the result of vandalism although the drainpipe may have been knocked by a lorry. Approximately 100 tiles required replacing and a quotation was awaited in respect of the works.

RECOMMENDED: that the report be noted and quotations for the repairs be considered at a future meeting.
 81. COUNTRYSIDE AGENCY VITAL VILLAGES - PLUME SCHOOL

Members were informed that the following letter had been received from the Headteacher, Plume School regarding the Countryside Agency's Vital Villages:

In search for additional funding for the school, I have come across the Countryside Agency's Vital Villages Scheme which includes Parish Transport Grants and Rural Transport initiatives.

The Countryside Agency claims to have up to 30 million pounds to spend on initiatives nationwide. Funding has to be applied for by Town and Parish Councils and you may be familiar with this scheme. However, I wondered if it held any possibilities for supporting a bus that took children home after clubs and activities at school, who were otherwise dependent on the normal school buses.

Ideally, we would like to run a late bus two nights a week, so that students can take part in our Arts and Sports activities ……………………………..

Discussion ensued regarding this matter and the grant pack was available at the meeting from which it was felt that the Plume School's proposal could qualify for funds under this Scheme. In view of this it was

RECOMMENDED: that the Town Clerk makes further investigations regarding Parish Transport Grants and Rural Transport initiatives to see if the provision of transport to enable pupils to get home from after school activities qualifies for funding.
  .
The Chairman adjourned the meeting for questions from the press and public
during which questions were asked regarding the Christmas Decorations.
  . Meeting closed at 8.45 p.m.

Councillor Steven Thain
Chairman

Signed ……………………………………….. Date…………………………..



ITEMS   (copy, report herewith)  are available for inspection at the Town Hall during normal office hours.

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