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MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING
HELD ON MONDAY 8th MARCH, 2004 AT 7.30 P.M.
IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM, TOWN HALL.
Amendments.

PRESENT: Chairman: Cllr. Mrs. M. Curtis (Deputy Mayor)
Vice Chairman: Cllr. T. Shrimpton
Councillors: I. Mackenzie, W. Prior, Mrs. S. Riesebeck,
S. Savage, K. Smith (Town Mayor) and J. Swallow.
In Attendance: A member of the press, Mr. M. Letch (Letchwood), the Town Clerk and Administrative Assistant.
Due to the overrunning of a Special Planning Committee meeting the meeting commenced at 7.39 p.m.
 86. AN APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE

An apology for absence was received from Cllr. D. Keighley.
 87. PRESENTATION FROM MR. LETCH REGARDING WEBSITES

In response to a question from Cllr. Savage regarding declaration of a personal interest as webmaster, members agreed that Cllr. Savage should remain in the meeting.

The Chairman welcomed and thanked Mr. Letch for attending the meeting and in this respect members received a presentation regarding a Town Council website, purchase of a dot gov domain name and a Broadband connection.

Mr. Letch circulated copies of a proposed website and members were also able to view the site from a laptop computer. He stated that the design and layout of the site had been kept clear and uncluttered to allow a minimum download time when accessing the site, it was also easily accessible for people with disabilities. The site would have a banner heading on each page, for ease of navigation, which would include the Maldon Town shield. Pages would include:

Home Page
The Council - The Town Council's Role and information on individual Councillors
What's On - Local Events
History - Local History and links to other relevant sites
Useful Links - Maldon District Council, Essex County Council, Maldon Chamber of Trade and Commerce
Vacancies
Hall Booking
Youth Council Contents
Search Facility

Once the site had been set up the maintenance and updating of the site could be undertaken quickly by the office staff after they had received a short period of training. In response to a question Mr Letch said that his preferred website software was "Front Page" which was operated in a similar fashion to the programmes which the office staff currently used. He also stated that it would be preferable, for conformity, if one member of staff became overall editor of the site.

With regard to a dot gov domain name, Mr Letch explained that there would be a separate cost for the purchase of the domain name, maldon-tc.gov.uk or alternatively maldontc.gov.uk as the name had to be registered with a specific service provider on a two year contract. With regard to email facilities the Town Council could either use the existing sites or the dot gov site which would provide approximately 12 email names to the address.

Mr Letch explained that it would be beneficial but not essential for the Town Council to consider a Broadband connection but it would be useful when using and updating the website. He recommended connecting to "Demon" as the service provider.

The Chairman thanked Mr. Letch for his presentation and he left the meeting at 8.00 p.m.
 88. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 21ST JANUARY, 2004

Members received and considered the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st January, 2004.

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st January, 2004 be approved and adopted.
 89.

 89.1
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 20th February, 2004.

In response to a question the Town Clerk explained that the items in the receipts column marked as "XXX Hall - Elec" were in respect of refunds. She also stated that the Website Budget was not listed as there had not been any transactions during this period.

b. A list of cheques and Standing Orders for supplies and services in excess of £500 for January and February, 2004.

In response to a question the Town Clerk stated that she would investigate the activities covered by the Performing Right Society - Town Hall Licence.

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;

(c) investigations be undertaken regarding the activities covered in the Town Hall Licence from the Performing Right Society.
 89.2 Donations

Members noted that £726 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
Dengie Project Trust Mental Health Forum £ 50
Maldon Town Regatta £200
Essex Disabled People's Association £300
Farleigh at St. Clare's Hospice £250
Maldon and District Neighbour Mediation Service £500
Plume Sixth Form College - Senior Citizens Christmas Party £150
Maldon Carnival Association £500

a. Maldon Carers Centre
Members received and considered a grant application form from the Maldon Carers Centre who were requesting financial assistance towards increased travel costs. A copy of their accounts were available for inspection.

Cllr. Mrs. Riesebeck declared a personal interest and retired from the meeting.

Cllr. Prior declared a personal interest and took no part in the discussion.

RESOLVED: that a donation of £200 be forwarded to the Maldon Carers Centre towards running costs.
(Local Government& Rating Act 1997 s.26)

Cllr. Mrs Riesebeck returned to the meeting.

b. Maldon Carnival Association
Further to minute 74.2(ii) of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st January, 2004 members recalled that it had been resolved that consideration should be given to providing further funding to the Maldon Carnival Association's centenary celebrations at this meeting.

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

Discussion ensued and it was

RESOLVED: that a donation of £526.00 be forwarded to the Maldon Carnival Association towards their centenary celebrations.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.145)

Cllr. Smith returned to the meeting.

c. Essex Disabled People's Association
Further to minute 47 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 15th October, 2003 members were reminded that it had been agreed that a donation of £300 should be forwarded to the Essex Disabled People's Association for two local people to benefit from the Travel Voucher Scheme (TVS). In this respect members received a further letter from the Essex Disabled People's Association regarding the closure of the Essex TVS with effect from 31st March, 2004 as core funding for the scheme had been unattainable.

RESOLVED: that the letter from the Essex Disabled People's Association be noted.
 89.3 Members Audit - Year Ended 31 March 2004

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman were requested to consider a date to inspect the Town Council's accounts.

RESOLVED: that the Chairman and Vice Chairman arrange a convenient date to inspect the Town Council's accounts.
 89.4 Courses

Further to letters dated 16th February, 2004 members were reminded that notification had been received from the Essex Association of Local Councils of the following courses:

a. Chairman's Day
Tuesday, 23rd March, 2004 at Foakes Hall, Great Dunmow at a cost of £35 per delegate. Cllrs. Mrs. Riesebeck and Savage had indicated that they wished to attend this course.

RESOLVED: that Cllrs. Mrs. Riesebeck and Savage attend the Chairman's Day being held on 23rd March, 2004 at a total cost of £70.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.175)

b. Law and Procedures
Wednesday, 28th April, 2004 at Foakes Hall, Great Dunmow at a cost of £41 per delegate. Cllrs. Mrs. Riesebeck, Savage and Shrimpton had indicated that they wished to attend this course.

RESOLVED: that Cllrs. Mrs. Riesebeck, Savage and Shrimpton attend the Law and Procedures Course on 28th April, 2004 at a total cost of £123.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.175)
 89.5 Finance Year Ending 31st March, 2004

In accordance with Financial Regulation 3.7, members were requested to consider carrying forward the balance of monies remaining in certain Estimate Heads and Ear Marked Reserves to the 2004/2005 Financial Year.

RESOLVED: that financial provision remaining in the following Estimate Heads and Ear Marked Reserves be carried forward to the 2004 / 2005 Financial Year:

Closed Churchyard Walls
Maeldune Centre Alterations
Moot Hall Contingency
Moot Hall Decoration
Moot Hall Maintenance Fund
Queens Jubilee
Regalia Restoration Fund
St. Peter's Refurbishment
Structural Survey
 89.6 Inland Revenue

Members were informed that notification had been received from the Inland Revenue that, small employers could get up to £825 tax free over a five year period if the end of year returns were forwarded to them online. Members recalled that in accordance with the auditor, the Town Council employed a company to calculate the wages and it was suggested that they be requested to forward the Town Council end of year return electronically to the Inland Revenue. It was noted that the additional cost for Acumen Wages to undertake this on behalf of the Town Council would be £35 - £40 per annum.

RESOLVED: that Acumen Wages be requested to forward the Town Council End of Year Return electronically to the Inland Revenue at a cost of £34 - £40 per annum.
(Local Government Act 1972 s. 112)
 89.7 Financial Regulations

Members received and considered draft revised Financial Regulations.

Cllr. Savage requested that a copy of the regulations be forwarded to him for inclusion on the website.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the revised Financial Regulations be approved;

(b) a copy of the Financial Regulations be forwarded to Cllr. Savage for inclusion on the website.
 90.

 90.1
COMPUTERS

New Office Computers

Members noted that the new computers had now been installed in the office.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 90.2 Town Council Website, Broadband and dot.gov Domain Name

Further to minute 75 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st January, 2004 and the presentation of Mr. Letch (minute 88 refers) members received and considered a report regarding the Town Council website, broadband connection and dot gov domains.

Cllr. Savage, the existing webmaster, declared a personal interest in this item.

Cllr. Savage expressed disappointment that the Website Working Party had never met and he proposed that this item be deferred until after such a meeting had taken place to discuss the matter. Discussion ensued regarding the fact that until December, 2003 there had only been two members on the Working Party. Reference was made to the Finance and General Purposes Committee meting held on 21st January, 2004 (minute 75 refers) at which it was agreed that Mr. Letch should attend a future meeting of the Committee to discuss provision of a dot gov name and proposals to provide a Town Council website. The Chairman also said that it had been preferable for Mr. Letch to give his presentation to the entire Committee rather than the Working Party as ultimately the Committee would have to make the recommendation.

Cllr. Savage expressed the view that it would be preferable for the domain name of the Town Council site to be unhyphenated i.e. www.maldontc.gov.uk. He also questioned whether the cost of the Front Page software would be additional to the quotation submitted by Mr. Letch. Some members enquired as to why Cllr. Savage had not asked Mr. Letch questions when he was in attendance at the meeting and had specifically asked if there were any questions. Cllr. Savage replied that it was not the correct procedure to ask questions when the presentation had been made. Cllr. Savage expressed the view that alternative quotations should be sought with regard to obtaining the dot gov.uk domain name and suggested that Travision should be approached in this respect.

Discussion ensued and it was suggested that it may be preferable to obtain the domain name from the same company who would be undertaking the design of the website. Members agreed that the office staff should manage and update the site in-house.

When put to the vote it was agreed that the quotation from Letchwood to undertake the design of the Town Council website and to train the office staff to run the site in-house be approved.

Members felt that a letter should be forwarded to Cllr. Savage, as webmaster of the current Town Council website, thanking him for his generous support in managing the website www.maldon.info/maldontc

With regard to the Town Council using a broadband connection members noted that Mr. Letch had felt that Demon would be a suitable provider for the Town Council's requirements and although other companies offered similar packages there were no objections to Broadband being obtained through Demon.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the quotation from Letchwood in the sum of £500 to design, set-up, upload web pages and train staff to manage a Town Council website be approved;

(b) further investigations be undertaken regarding the purchase of www.maldontc.gov.uk domain name;

(c) further investigations be undertaken regarding the Town Council obtaining a broadband connection through Demon;

(d) a letter be forwarded to the webmaster thanking him for his support with the website www.maldon.info/maldontc .
(This minute was not accepted - Minute 156.5 of the Town Council meeting held on 5th April, 2004 refers)
 90.3 Disposal of Old Computers

Members considered the disposal of the old computers and in this respect were informed that a request had been received to forward a system to a charity worker and that Mrs. Grant had indicated that she would like to purchase one of the systems.

In response to a question the Town Clerk stated that it was legal for the Town Council to dispose of the computers which were surplus to requirements. A bidding process could be undertaken but on a previous occasion when trying to dispose of old computers there had only been one request for the machines.

Cllr. Savage expressed the view that a system should be kept and setup for use by the public to view the Town Council website. Concern was expressed that this may be a security risk for office staff and computers were available in the Public Library for use by the general public. It was also noted that this facility was not offered by the Maldon District Council. It was suggested that one of the systems should be offered to the SWANS.

Discussion ensued and when put to the vote it was

RECOMMENDED: that the three old computer systems be disposed of as follows:

(i) one to a charity worker
(ii) one be offered to the SWANS
(iii) Mrs. Grant be allowed to purchase the third system.
 91.

 91.1
CINEMA

Notes of the Cinema Working Party meeting held on 21st January, 2004

Members received and considered the notes of the Cinema Working Party meeting held on 21st January, 2004.

Cllr. Mrs. Riesebeck expressed an interest in learning how the digital projection equipment was operated and in this respect would attend the next film show for instruction.

In response to a question it was noted that 32 people had attended the showing of the "Lord of the Rings - Two Towers" and it was suggested that it would be beneficial to show the third film in the trilogy prior to its release to the general public.

Cllr. Mackenzie felt that it would be helpful for a suggestion box to be available at film shows to enable the public to comment. Cllr. Savage stated that this facility was all ready available on the town council website www.maldon.info/cinema .

A question was raised regarding the proposed purchase of a compressor/limiter and noise gate and Cllr. Savage stated that the piece of equipment originally intended to be purchased for £60 had been discontinued and similar items available at present cost £199 and he suggested that he continued to investigate the matter. In the meantime he offered free use of his personal equipment.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) Cllr. Mrs. Riesebeck be instructed on how to use the digital projection equipment at a future film show;

(b) a suggestion box be made available at future cinema shows;

(c) Cllr. Savage continues to investigate the purchase of a compressor/limiter and noise gate;

(d) in all other respects the notes of the Cinema Working Party meeting held on 21st January, 2004 be noted.
Cllr. Shrimpton left the meeting at 8.50 p.m
 91.2 Dates of Future Film Shows

Further to note 7 (c) of the Cinema Working Party meeting held on 21st January, 2004 members considered the date for a film show during April and were advised that the only Sunday available was 4th April, 2004, the start of the Easter Holiday. With regard to a date in May, Sunday, 2nd May, 2004 was free but this was part of a Bank Holiday weekend.

Discussion ensued and it was suggested that as there were no available Sunday dates a Friday evening should be considered and it was

RECOMMENDED: that the film, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" be shown on Friday, 7th May, 2004 commencing at 8.00 p.m.
 91.3 Projector Bracket

Further to minute 62.1 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 27th November, 2003 members were informed that additional quotations had been sought for a projector bracket but, to date, no response had been received. In view of this it was

RECOMMENDED: that the quotation from Polden Engineering in the sum of £420 plus VAT to manufacture a bracket for the digital projector to be fixed to metal bars be approved.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.145)
 92.

 92.1
TOWN HALL

Burglar Alarm

Further to minute 63.1 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 where it had been agreed that the Town Hall burglar alarm system be updated, members were informed that when the engineers were updating the system it had been discovered that additional modifications were required within the office to enable the system to comply with Police regulations. In this respect the Chairman of the Committee and the Mayor had authorised the relocation of the keypad from the front entrance of the building to within the Town Council office at an additional cost of £260.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 92.2 External Decoration

Members recalled that it had been agreed at the Estimate meeting that money should be included in the 2004/05 Estimates for decorating the outside of the Moot Hall. It was noted that community service workers had recently decorated the Maeldune Centre and that they were prepared, if required, to decorate the ground floor of the Town Hall which would save expenditure.

RECOMMENDED: that community service workers be contacted regarding the external decoration of the ground floor of the Town Hall.
 92.3 Floors - Main Hall and Stage

Further to minute 68.2 of the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 members recalled that it was necessary for the wooden floor of the main hall and stage to be annually cleaned and resurfaced. In this respect members received and considered a quotation in the total sum of £1,725 plus VAT, from the firm who undertook the work last year, to scarify, clean, lacquer and seal the wooden flooring of the Main Hall floor and stage area.

Members noted that the provisional dates of 28th - 30th April, 2004 had been booked for the work to be undertaken.

Cllr. Savage stated that he would remove the cable on the stage floor which had been installed by the Pantomime Society.

RECOMMENDED: that the quotation from Pica Flooring Limited in the total sum of £1,72.00.00 to clean, lacquer and seal the Main Hall floor and stage area be approved.
(Local Government Misc. Provisions Act 1975 s.19)
 92.4 Cloakroom - Hygiene Facilities

Further to minute 68.2 of the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 members received and considered a quotation for the installation of a urinal sanitizer in the male toilets for an annual fee of £208.00 and the installation of aerofresh machines in both the male and female toilets costing £104.00 per annum for each machine; a total of 2 would be required. These machines would be serviced frequently throughout the year by the company who already supply personal hygiene services within the building and White Horse Lane Public Conveniences.

RECOMMENDED: that the quotation from PHS for the installation of a urinal sanitizer in the male toilets and aerofresh machines in both the male and female toilets in the total sum of £416 plus VAT per annum be approved.
(Local Government Misc. Provisions Act 1975 s.19)
 93. ANNUAL REPORT

Members received and considered a copy of the draft Annual Report to be circulated to all residents of the town and were informed that it was hoped that quotations for the printing of the Annual Report would be available at the Town Council meeting to be held on 5 April, 2004.

RECOMMENDED: that the draft Annual report be approved.
 94. EVENTS FORUM

Members were informed that notification had been received from the Leisure Services Officer, Maldon District Council of an Events Forum to be held on Monday, 15th March, 2004 at Madison Connections, Park Drive between 7.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. A maximum of two representatives were invited to represent the Town Council and in this respect members were requested to consider whether they wished to attend the Forum.

RESOLVED: that Cllr. Prior attendds the Maldon District Council Events Forum to be held at Madison Connections on 15th March, 2004 commencing at 7.00 p.m.
 95.

 95.1
MOOT HALL

Crack Monitoring

Further to minute 15.1 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 23rd June, 2003 members received and considered a letter from The Morton Partnership regarding a report on crack monitoring undertaken to the second floor of the Moot Hall in the Council Chamber. Mr. Morton confirmed that no movement had taken place over the seven month period since the tell-tale had been fixed and therefore the repair works as specified in the Quinquennial Report undertaken by David Whymark could be carried out. Reference was also made in the letter to the possibility of having to look at ad hoc items during the work depending on what is exposed.

RECOMMENDED: that the content of the letter from The Morton Partnership be noted.
 95.2 Information Leaflet

Members were informed that a letter had been received from Robert Long enquiring if the Town Council would consider re-printing a Moot Hall information leaflet which he had designed and written. A copy of the leaflet was available for inspection at the meeting and it was noted that it would require updating both historically and photographically prior to being re-printed.

The Town Clerk advised that there was no financial provision available in the 2004/2005 Estimates for the re-printing of the leaflet.

Discussion ensued and it was suggested that Mr Long be advised that the historical information and photographs within the leaflet required to be updated and that financial provision for the re-printing of the leaflet would be considered in conjunction with the 2005/2006 Estimates.

RECOMMENDED: that Mr. Long be informed that the matter will be considered in conjunction with the 2005 / 2006 Estimates.
 96. QUESTIONS FROM THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

In response to a question from the press regarding the Moot Hall repairs the Chairman stated that now that the monitoring of the crack in the Council Chamber had been completed and a satisfactory report received the repairs to the building would be considered.
 97. EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

RESOLVED: that pursuant to section 1 of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 the meeting be not open to the public and press for the following item of business: Moot Hall Tenders.
 98. MOOT HALL TENDERS

Further to minute 81 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st January, 2004 members received and considered the report of the Town Clerk regarding the opening of tenders for work outlined in the Quinquennial Report as priority items "A", "B" and "M" but it was noted that items "C" and the external balcony columns were not included.

Members were reminded of minute 68.2 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th November, 2003 and minute 108 of the Special Council meeting held on 8th December, 2003 where the view had been expressed that all the works contained in the Quinquennial Report in respect of the Moot Hall should be undertaken prior to the end of this term of office.

The Town Clerk circulated a letter from David Whymark regarding the acceptance of tenders. It was suggested that grant funding would need to be sought to enable the work to be undertaken and that the matter would also need to be considered in conjunction with the 2005 / 2006 Estimates.

Discussion ensued and it was suggested that quotations should be sought for the refurbishment of the balcony columns and it was noted that all work must be discussed with Mr Whymark as he had prepared the specification for the refurbishment.

Cllr. Mackenzie felt that it was necessary for the work to be prioritised and it was agreed that members should visit the Moot Hall to view the premises and the required work.

RECOMMENDED: that members of the committee visit the Moot Hall at 10.00 a.m. on Sunday, 28th March, 2004 to view the refurbishment work required and the matter be discussed at a future meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee.

The Chairman submitted her apologies for this meeting.
   The Chairman closed the meeting at 9.10 p.m.

Councillor Mrs Mary Curtis

Chairman

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



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