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Maldon, Essex,  CM9 4RL.

MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING
HELD ON WEDNESDAY 21st JANUARY, 2004 AT 7.30 P.M.
IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM, TOWN HALL.
Amendments.

PRESENT: Chairman: Cllr. Mrs. M. Curtis
Councillors: D. Keighley, I. Mackenzie, Mrs. S. Riesebeck,
S. Savage and K. Smith (Town Mayor).
In Attendance: Mr. M. Letch (Letchwood), the Town Clerk and Administrative Assistant.
 71. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs. W. Prior, T. Shrimpton and J. Swallow.
 72. PRESENTATION FROM MR. LETCH REGARDING OFFICE COMPUTER SYSTEMS

Members received a presentation from Mr. M. Letch regarding a new computer system for the office. Mr. Letch informed members that he had provided computer systems and websites for a number of Town and Parish Councils including the Essex Association of Local Councils which gave him a good working knowledge of local government procedure. With regard to the quotation which he had supplied he said that all the equipment would be purchased from a local supplier and the system he recommended would include a router manager network and would give reliable backup using a writeable CD. He also recommended using a wireless network to connect the three standard office P.C.'s and he said the system would give an opportunity to expand should it be required.

The use of a wireless network was questioned as it was felt that this would limit the degree of security and discussion ensued with regard to this matter. Mr. Letch said that he felt that there would not be a problem with the Town Council using a wireless system as the required level of security was not high however, cable could be used to network.

The Mayor thanked Mr. Letch for his interesting presentation.

Mr. Letch left the meeting at 7.40 p.m.
 73. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 25TH NOVEMBER, 2003

Members received and considered the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003.

Minute 57.1 (c) - Receipts and Expenditure
The quarterly payment in respect of the Town Centre Manager be amended to read, £2,625.00.

Cllr. I. Mackenzie arrived at 7.42 p.m.

Minute 68.2 - Town Council's Precept for 2004/05 Financial Year
Administration - A10 Insurances - the increased figure for the Fidelity Insurance cover be amended from £1,000,000 to read £100,000.

It was noted that amendments to minutes 60 and 61 had been made at the Town Council meeting held on 15th January, 2004.

RESOLVED: that (a) Minute 57.1.c - the quarterly payment in respect of the Town Centre Manager - be amended to read, £2,625.00;

(b) Minute 68.2 - A10 - Insurances - the Fidelity Insurance cover figure be amended to read £100,000;

(c) in all other respects the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 be approved and adopted.
 74.

 74.1
TOWN CLERK'S REPORT

Receipts and Expenditure

Members received and considered:

a. Financial reports detailing receipts and expenditure for the period 1st April 2003 to 31st December, 2003.

b. A list of cheques and Standing Orders for supplies and services in excess of £500 for November and December, 2003.

In response to a question, the Town Clerk confirmed that Lubbock Fine were the Chartered Accountants who undertook the external audit.

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 £500.00 be noted.
 74.2 Donations

Members noted that £1,226 remained in the Donations Estimate Head and were informed that to date the following donations had been made:

Maldon District Handicapped Children's Association               £650.00
Dengie Project Trust Mental Health Forum                               £ 50.00
Maldon Town Regatta                                                                 £200.00
Essex Disabled People's Association                                          £300.00
Farleigh at St. Clare's Hospice                                                    £250.00
Maldon and District Neighbour Mediation Service                   £500.00
Plume Sixth Form College - Senior Citizens Christmas Party   £150.00

(i) Plume Sixth Form College - Thank You Letter
Further to minute 58.2(ii) of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 members were informed that a thank you letter had been received from pupils of the Plume Sixth Form College in respect of the donation of £150.00 for assistance to provide a Senior Citizens' Christmas Party.

RESOLVED: that the thank you letter from the Plume Sixth Form College be noted.

(ii) Maldon Carnival Association
Members received and considered a grant application form from the Maldon Carnival Association requesting financial assistance towards the town's 100th Carnival. A copy of their accounts was available for inspection.

Cllr. Smith declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this item and retired from the meeting.

The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7.46 p.m. to allow Cllr. Smith to answer questions raised by members. Cllr. Smith informed members that, if a grant were to be provided it would be used to cater for visiting band members and Carnival Council from Cuijk who were coming to Maldon to join in the Carnival's centenary celebrations.

Cllr. Smith left the meeting and the meeting was re-convened at 7.50 p.m.
(amended at Town Council meeting held on 9th February, 2004 - minute 138.4 refers)

Discussion ensued and members noted that the Town Council had not previously provided any financial support to the Carnival Association and it was felt that, as it was the Carnival's centenary, it would be appropriate to support the event and a donation of £500 should be offered to the Association.

In response to a question the Town Clerk informed members that £1226.00 remained in the Estimate Head for the 2003/2004 financial year and to date no further requests for donations had been received. It was also noted that the last Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting for this financial year would be held on 8th March, 2004.

The view was expressed that perhaps additional funding could be provided to assist the Carnival Association and the Chairman suggested that if no further requests were received before the end of the financial year further provision to the Carnival Association be considered at the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting to be held on 8th March, 2004.

Cllr. Smith returned to the meeting. (amended at the Town Council meeting held on 9th February, 2004 - minute 138.4 refers)

RESOLVED: that (a) a donation of £500 be forwarded to the Maldon Carnival Association towards their centenary celebrations;

(b) further funding to the Maldon Carnival Association be considered at the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting to be held on 8th March, 2004.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.145)
 74.3 Annual Audit Return - Year Ended 31st March, 2003

Members were informed that the annual return in respect of the above audit had been received from Lubbock Fine, Chartered Accountants and a copy of the signed audit certificate and opinion had been circulated to all members.

Members recalled that with regard to Item 2 - Fidelity Guarantee, on the advice of the Internal Auditor the level of Fidelity Guarantee Insurance Cover had been increased to £100,000 during June (minute 17.1 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 23rd June, 2003 refers).

With regard to item 3 - members noted that the appropriate minute number had been entered.

RESOLVED: that the Annual Audit Return - Year ended 31st March, 2003 be noted.
 74.4 Report of the Internal Auditor

Members received and considered the report of the Internal Auditor and in respect of item no. 6 under Matters Arising members received a copy of a revised Grant Application Form which took into account the internal auditor's comments. The Town Clerk said that should members approve the revised form it would be used for all future requests to the Town Council for Grant Funding.

Reference was made to the comments of the Internal Auditor regarding the Essex County Council Pension Fund and the view was expressed that there is very little action that can be taken regarding the unfunded position of the pension fund other than to ensure that sufficient funding was available in Estimates.

The Town Clerk reported that Direct Debit payments were now being utilised for utility service payments and that over the years a number of alternative utility tariffs had been investigated in respect of electricity and telephone etc. Members were informed that an electricity supplier had recently visited the office and his company had not been able to match the Town Council's existing tariff.

RESOLVED: that (a) the report of the Internal Auditor be noted;

(b) the revised Grant Application Form be approved.
 74.5 Subscription - Society of Local Council Clerks

Members were informed that the annual subscription of £108.00 for membership to the Society of Local Council Clerks was now due and it was noted that the aims and objectives of the Society were to promote the professional standing and knowledge of members of the Society and provide training, legal and financial advice.

RESOLVED: that the subscription to the Society of Local Council Clerks in the sum of £108.00 be renewed for 2004.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.143)
 74.6 Courses

Members were informed that notification had been received from the Essex Training Partnership regarding the following courses:

a. Employment Issues Course to be held on 4th March, 2004 at Foakes Hall, Great Dunmow at a cost of £39 per delegate; members were informed that the Town Clerk wished to attend.

Cllr. Savage enquired if it would be possible for him to attend this course as the Maldon Pantomime Society was now an employer. Members had no objection to this request providing there would be no financial implications to the Town Council.

b. Roles and Responsibilities Course - to be held on 30th March, 2004 at Foakes Hall, Great Dunmow at a cost of £24.00 per delegate. It was noted that the Town Clerk would be conducting the course.

The Town Clerk informed members that the information provided would be similar to the presentation made to Town Councillors after the May 2003 election.

RESOLVED: that the Town Clerk attends the Essex Training Partnership - Employment Issues Course on 4th March, 2004 at a cost of £39.00.
 74.7 Guaranteed Investment Bond

Further to minute 23.3 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st July, 2003 some members recalled that the Town Council had invested £50,000 in a six month Co-operative Bank Guaranteed Investment Bond during February, 2003 which had been renewed during August, 2003. Members were informed that the Bond was due to mature on 4th February, 2004 and it was suggested that members consider investing all or part of the money in the following:

¨ New Guaranteed Investment Bond
¨ Transfer to a Business Select Account
¨ Withdraw the money

Discussion ensued and it was

RESOLVED: that the Town Council invests £50,000 in a new Co-operative Bank Guaranteed Investment Bond for a further six month period.
 74.8 Insurance

Further to minute 97.2 of the Town Council meeting held on 27th October, 2003 members recalled the report of the Town Clerk regarding her attendance at the Society of Local Council Clerks Conference where reference had been made to Third Party Hirers Insurance and Loss of Revenue. Members were informed that these matters had been discussed with the Town Council's Insurers Allianz Cornhill who had provided the following quotations:

Hirer's Insurance - the annual additional premium, to extend cover to Hirers in respect of the Town Hall would be £26.25. This would exclude the use of the Hall for commercial purposes but would include non-profit organisations such as charities.

Loss of Revenue - the annual premium would be £30.19 based on a loss of up to £20,000.

RESOLVED: that the quotations from Allianz Cornhill in the total sum of £56.44 to provide Hirer's Insurance and Loss of Revenue cover for 2004/05 be approved.
 74.9 Staff Training - European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL)

Further to minute 54(i) of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 15th October, 2003 and minute 68.2 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 members recalled that provision had been made in the 2004/2005 Estimates for the staff to undertake the ECDL which was a computer qualification recognised throughout the European Union.

The report detailed the various options offered at the Witham Technology College for the course and it was agreed that as the training sessions were held on Friday morning's and in view of the budget provision, two members of staff should undertake the ECDL during the forthcoming financial year and the remaining member of staff during 2005/2006. It was felt that, taking into consideration the experience of the office staff, the "Workshops for Individuals" would be the preferable option i.e. Workshops at £30.75 per session, Log Book £25.00, exam session £20.50. Maximum charge if attending 7 training sessions would total £383.75.

Discussion ensued and it was felt that with the experience of the office staff it would be unlikely that all the training sessions would be used.

RESOLVED: that (a) Mrs. Helen Vincent and Mrs. Janice Grant undertake the ECDL in accordance with the "Workshops for Individuals" option at a maximum cost of £383.75 per student during the 2004/2005 financial year;

(b) Mrs. J. Good undertake the ECDL during the 2005/2006 financial year.
 75. COMPUTERS

Further to the presentation of Mr. Letch, Letchwood (minute 72 refers) members received and considered four quotations from computer suppliers for the provision of new office computers.

In response to a question the Town Clerk said that consultants from three of the companies had visited the office and they had all been advised of the tasks which the office system would be required to undertake. The companies had then produced the specifications as they had felt appropriate; this was why the quotations contained different configurations of equipment.

With regard to possible provision of Dell Computers it was noted that only Dell components are compatible.

The Chairman referred to the fact that members had given permission for the office staff to obtain quotations for computers and they had subsequently obtained four.

Lengthy discussion ensued during which reference was made to the fact that the network should be connected by cable rather than wireless and Cllr. Savage expressed the view that if the quotation from Letchwood was accepted the computers should contain 512 MB instead of 256 MB.

When put to the vote it was recommended that the quotation from Letchwood in the sum of £3,355 be approved subject to there being a cable network and each computer containing 512 MB. In this respect it was noted that the cost may vary slightly because of the amendments.

Reference was made to the fact that it had been agreed at the Estimate meeting that, if possible, the operation of the website should be undertaken in-house.

Cllr. Savage declared a personal interest with regard to the website.

Discussion ensued regarding the cost and provision of a dot.gov name and it was agreed that further clarification should be sought from Mr. Letch as to whether he was able to host a dot.gov name and he be invited to attend a further meeting of the Committee to discuss provision of a website.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the Town Council employs the services of Letchwood for the purchase of a new computer system for the office in the region of £3,355 to include cable networking and each computer contain 512 MB;
(Local Government Act 1972 s.111)

(b) Mr. Letch to be invited to attend a future meeting of the Committee to discuss provision of a dot.gov name and proposals to provide a Town Council website.
 76. PLUME BUILDING - SUNDIAL

Further to minute 51 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 15th October, 2003 members received and considered the detailed report of Dr. J. R. Davis regarding the sundial located on the front aspect of the Plume Building. Dr. Davis had felt that the sun dial was of unusual construction and may have some connections with Dr. Plume who had funded a Plumian Professorship of Astronomy and Natural Philosophy at Trinity College Cambridge.

It was noted that should members wish to pursue the restoration work to the sundial arrangements would have to be made to remove the dial from the building and English Heritage would need to be contacted due to the Listed Building status of the building. It was also suggested that it may be possible to pursue grant funding for the restoration work to the sundial.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) investigations be undertaken to have the sundial removed from the building and placed in storage;

(b) a quotation be sought from Mrs. Harriet James, Sunnydials for the restoration work to the Plume Building sundial;

(c) English Heritage be contacted regarding the proposed restoration work to the sundial.
(Essex Act 1987 s.48)
 77. POLICE COMMUNITY SUPPORT OFFICERS

Further to minute 119 of the Town Council meeting held on 15th December, 2003 members received a response from the Chief Executive, Maldon District Council which noted that the Town Council would not be making financial provision in its 2004/2005 budgets for Police Community Support Officers. The response also stated that the District Council had resolved to include £25,000 in the 2004/2005 Estimates for District Police Community Support Officers.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 78. TOWN HALL LEAFLET

Members were reminded that it had been agreed at the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 to increase the hire fees for the Town Hall from 1st April, 2004 (minute 68.1 refers). In view of this it was reported that it would be necessary to re-print the Town Hall information leaflet which details the facilities offered and hire fees. In this respect members considered two quotations to provide 2000, A4, folded, full colour leaflets.

RECOMMENDED: that the quotation from Colt Press to supply 2000 Town Hall leaflets in the sum of £274.00 be approved.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.111)
 79. TOWN HALL - EXTERNAL WALL MOUNTED ASHTRAYS

Due to the large number of cigarette ends which were found outside the entrances to the Town Hall members received and considered two quotations for external wall mounted ashtrays for the front and rear entrances to the Town Hall. The view was expressed that the style of ashtrays needed to be considered as the trays could catch fire if packets were also disposed of in the ashtrays.

Discussion ensued and it was felt that notices should be placed at the two main entrances to the building requesting that cigarette ends be carefully disposed of.

RECOMMENDED: that notices be placed at the entrances to the Town Hall requesting that cigarette ends be disposed of carefully and no further action be taken with regard to the purchase of wall mounted ashtrays.
 80.

 80.1
REGALIA

Chain of Office

Further to minute 68.2 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 members received and considered two quotations to supply six new shields and adjoining links to the Mayor's Chain of Office. Members noted that some minor restoration work may be required to the chain of office including replacing a shoulder pin, repairs to the main chain and engraving to the shields. It was felt that while the chain was with the appointed company an assessment should be undertaken and a quotation for any necessary restoration work be requested. It was suggested that the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Mayor and Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, be authorised to consider the assessment and quotation for any additional work and, if felt appropriate, grant permission for the work to be undertaken.

The Mayor enquired if it would be possible for the Mayoress's Chain of Office to also be sent to the company for an assessment and quotation for any necessary repairs as the shoulder pin needed replacing.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the quotation from Vaughtons for the provision of six new shields and adjoining links in the sum of £560.00 plus VAT and carriage be approved;

(b) the Mayoress's chain also be forwarded to Vaughtons for an assessment and quotation for any necessary repair work;

(c) the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Mayor and Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee consider an assessment and quotation for any additional work to the chains of office.
(Local Government Act 1972 s. 133)
 80.2 Deputy Mayor's Robe

Members received and considered a quotation in the sum of £180.00 for repairs to the stitching on the shoulders and replacing the fur on the Deputy Mayor's robe.
(Local Government Act 1972 s. 133)

RECOMMENDED: that the repairs to the Deputy Mayor's robe in the sum of £180.00 be undertaken.
 81. MOOT HALL - REPAIRS

Further to minute 69 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 members recalled that it had been agreed that tender documents be forwarded to four companies for repairs to the Moot Hall.

In this respect a letter had been received from David Whymark, Building Design and Conservation which stated that the tender documents would be forwarded for opening at the Town Council offices at 12 noon on Wednesday, 11th February, 2004. The letter also referred to party wall agreements with neighbouring properties to the Moot Hall.

As a result of further discussion with Mr Whymark the Town Clerk reported that it had been suggested that a meeting be arranged with the owners of properties adjoining the Moot Hall to discuss the works and costs etc. prior to any works being undertaken. It had also been suggested that Party Wall Agreements be undertaken by a professional firm such as The Livermore Partnership, who charge £95.00 per hour; it was not envisaged that many hours work would be involved.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) a meeting be held with the owners of the two adjoining properties at which Mr. David Whymark, the Town Clerk and Cllrs. Mrs. Curtis and Shrimpton be in attendance;

(b) Mr. R. Hoile, The Livermore Partnership be appointed to prepare the appropriate Party Wall Agreements;

(c) Cllrs. Mrs. Riesebeck and Savage be appointed to be in attendance when the Tenders are opened at 12 noon on Wednesday, 11th February, 2004.
 82.

 82.1
CINEMA

Lord of the Rings

Members were informed that the Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring was shown at the Town Hall on Saturday, 10th January, 2004 to an audience of 28 people and the total sum of £61.01 was taken in admission fees and the sale of refreshments. It was noted that the second film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy - The Two Towers would be shown on Sunday, 22nd February, 2004 commencing at 2.00 p.m.

In response to a question regarding the poor condition of the Fellowship of the Ring DVD, the Town Clerk stated that these concerns had been reported to Filmbank. In response to a request for assistance at the showing of Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers, Cllrs. Mrs. Riesebeck, Savage, Smith and the Chairman stated that they would be available to attend.

RECOMMENDED: that it be noted that the Chairman and Cllrs. Mrs. Riesebeck, Savage and Smith had volunteered to assist at the showing of The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers on Sunday, 22nd February, 2004.
 82.2 Replacement Projector Lamp

Members were informed that as the digital projector was now frequently used the purchase of a replacement lamp (POA-LMP 38) should be considered and in this respect received two quotations for a replacement lamp.

RECOMMENDED: that the quotation from Comdis (Presenta Centre) for a replacement lamp for the digital projector in the sum of £299.00 plus VAT, plus £15.00 carriage be approved.
 83.

 83.1
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS

Maldon Chamber of Trade and Commerce

Members received a letter from the Chairman, Maldon Chamber of Trade and Commerce congratulating the Town Council on the much improved display of High Street Christmas Illuminations. It was noted from the letter that the Chamber of Trade and Commerce had forwarded a letter to the lighting contractor and a copy of this was available for inspection at the meeting.

RECOMMENDED: that the information be noted.
 83.2 Switching On of the Christmas Illuminations

Members considered the possibility that in future years the switching on of the High Street Christmas Illuminations should take place on the first Victorian Evening when a street closure would be in operation.

Discussion ensued and it was

RECOMMENDED: that the organisers of the Victorian Evenings be contacted to discuss the possibility of arranging for the High Street Christmas Illuminations to be switched on during the first Victorian Evening.
 84. QUESTIONS FROM THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

There were no questions from the Press and Public.
  Councillor Mrs Mary Curtis
Chairman

The Chairman closed the meeting at 9.15 p.m.

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



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