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MINUTES OF THE FINANCE & GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING
HELD ON MONDAY 23rd JUNE, 2003 AT 7.30 P.M.
IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM, TOWN HALL.
Amendments.

PRESENT: Chairman: Councillor Mrs. M. Curtis
Vice Chairman: Councillor T. Shrimpton
Councillors: W. Prior, Mrs S. Riesebeck, S. Savage, K. Smith (Town Mayor)
and J. Swallow.
In Attendance: District Cllr. Mrs. B. Keighley, Cllr. Mrs. M. Game, the Town Clerk and Administrative Assistant and two members of the public.
 11. APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE

An apology for absence was received from Cllr. P. Roberts.
 12. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 20TH MAY, 2003

Members received and considered the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 20th May, 2003.

Minute 5.2 - Donations
Cllr. Prior requested that the declaration of interest be amended to read:

"Cllr. Prior expressed a personal interest in the following three items in which he felt he had a prejudicial interest and left the meeting."

Minute 5.5 - Courses and Meetings
Resolution (b) be amended to read, "4th July, 2003."

Minute 8.2 - Lift Installation
Cllr. Savage felt that the regulation regarding lift maintenance should be amended to read, "BS EN13015." He also said that he had undertaken investigations regarding details of this regulation and it would appear that it may cost £75 to obtain a copy however, he would continue with his investigations.

Minute 9 - Risk Assessment
In response to a question regarding the date of the next Cinema Working Party meeting the Town Clerk stated that it would be in the near future when the appropriate information had been received.

RESOLVED: that (a) Minute 5.2 be amended to read, "Cllr. Prior expressed a personal interest in the following three items in which he felt he had a prejudicial interest and he left the meeting;"

(b) the resolution of Minute 5.5 be amended to read, " 4th July, 2003";

(c) the regulation regarding lift maintenance be amended to read, "BS EN 13015";

(d) in all other respects the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 20th May, 2003 be approved and adopted.
 13.

 13.1
FINANCIAL REPORTS

Receipts and Expenditure

Members received and considered:

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

b. A list of cheques and Standing Orders for supplies and services in excess of £500.00 for May, 2003.

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.
 13.2 Donations

Members recalled that the sum of £2,000.00 had been included in the 2003/04 Estimates and it had been agreed at the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 3rd March that:

£1,200 from 2001 / 02 be carried over to support the Plume School bid for Performing Arts Status;

£1,326 remaining at the end of the 2002/03 financial year be carried over to allow further consideration of applications from The Dengie Project Trust and Maldon District Handicapped Children's Association.

To date £650 has been donated to the Maldon District Handicapped Children's Association, £50 to Dengie Project Trust Mental Health Forum, Maldon Town Regatta £200, Essex Disabled People's Association £300 and £250 to Farleigh at St. Clare's Hospice. The sum of £3,076.00 remains.

Members noted that letters had been received from Peter Maynard, Maldon Town Regatta Association and Richard Fewings, Fundraiser, Farleigh at St. Clare's Hospice thanking the Town Council for their donations.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 13.3 End of Year Accounts

Members received and considered the year end accounts and supporting statements for the 2002 / 03 financial year as submitted to the internal auditor.

In response to a question regarding a signed declaration from the accountant, the Town Clerk stated that the year end accounts have initially to be signed by the Town Mayor and Responsible Financial Officer before being presented to the Internal Auditor. He then completes the relevant section of the supporting statement before they are forwarded to the External Auditor for approval.

RESOLVED: that the Town Mayor and Town Clerk, as Responsible Financial Officer, signs the year end accounts for the 2002 / 03 financial year at the Town Council meeting to be held on 7th July, 2003.
 13.4 Financial Regulations

Members received and considered revised Financial Regulations which had been compiled to comply with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 1996 as amended.

In response to a question regarding whether the Financial Regulations were in the public domain, the Town Clerk advised that once the amendments had been ratified by the full Town Council they were available to the public and these and Standing Orders could be published on the Town Council Web Site.

The Chairman expressed concern that the contract figure was being extended from £10,000 to £50,000 but the Town Clerk explained that this was beneficial to the Town Council as currently the regulations stipulated that public notices were required to be published in the local press for tenders over £10,000. The amendments would eliminate this requirement which had, in past experience, proved to be unfruitful.

It was reported that if the revised Financial Regulations were accepted it would also be necessary for Standing Orders to be amended to take into consideration the alterations regarding contracts.

RECOMMENDED: that the revised Financial Regulations be approved and amended copies of pages 15 and 16 of Standing Orders be issued.
 13.5 Town Hall - Stainless Steel Sink

Members received and considered a quotation in the total sum of £541.16 for the installation of a replacement stainless steel sink in the main kitchen of the Town Hall and were informed that during May emergency repairs had been undertaken to the existing sink after holes had been found; the taps were also found to be leaking.

Members expressed their surprise that a four year old sink was found to be defective but they were advised that this was not uncommon as it was dependant on the quality of stainless steel.

RESOLVED: that the quotation in the total sum of £541.16 to supply and fit a new double bowl right hand drainer stainless steel sink and new chrome monobloc sink mixer be approved.
(Local Government Act 1972s.133)
 14. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS WORKING PARTY MEETINGS

Members received and considered the Notes of the Christmas Lights Working Party meetings held on:

(a) 27th May, 2003
(b) 10th June, 2003

Cllr. Smith stated that the meeting with the Christmas Lighting contractor had been very constructive. It had been recommended that the contractor should provide an example of the revised High Street garland, which would cover the entire width of the High Street for the Town Council meeting to be held on 7th July, 2003 for members to examine. He stated that the contractor also wished to fit external electricity sockets to the outside of the buildings and to locate the timer switches in the centre of the decorations. This would allow 24 hours access to the electricity supply should any problems occur out of shop hours.

The Town Clerk reported that as a result of letters being sent to local businesses McDonalds had offered to donate £200 towards High Street Christmas illuminations. The Maldon Chamber of Trade and Commerce had agreed to donate an additional £700 to assist with the purchase of new cables, 16 amp sockets, trips and timers in waterproof boxes.

RECOMMENDED: that the notes of the Christmas Lights Working Party meetings held on 27th May and 10th June, 2003 be approved and adopted.
 15.

 15.1
MOOT HALL

Crack Monitoring

Further to minute 90.1(a) of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 4th March, 2003 members received and considered a letter from The Morton Partnership Limited which confirmed that they were happy for the Town Council to take readings from the crack monitoring tell tale in the Moot Hall on a four weekly cycle. They stated that they would report on a six monthly interval (November 2003) following receipt of the readings and depending on the results they would either continue to monitor the situation or suggest a repair. Their fee would be charged on an hourly basis but limited to £200 plus VAT. The Town Clerk reported that the Handyman had undertaken the monthly reading of the monitor which had shown no movement. The information had been forwarded to The Morton Partnership Limited.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 15.2 Moot Hall Information Leaflet

Further to minute 97.1 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 25th February, 2002 members recalled that it had been agreed that 1000 copies of the Moot Hall information leaflet should be printed. Members noted that all copies of the leaflet had now been distributed to organisations including the Tourist Information Centre, the Museum and the Public Library and further copies were urgently required. In this respect members considered the following quotation from the Maldon Printing Company:

1000 copies £111.00 plus VAT
5000 copies £256.00 plus VAT

A member expressed the opinion that the existing leaflet was uninspiring and could be improved by changing the size.

Discussion ensued and reference was made to the fact that the leaflet was the size recommended by the Tourist Information Centre and it should not be changed. It was agreed that it was more cost effective for 5000 copies of the leaflet to be printed.

The Town Clerk informed members that the refurbishment of the chairs in the Council Chamber, Moot Hall was well underway and it was anticipated that they would be returned to the Moot Hall by 7th July, 2003. The work had been more extensive than initially envisaged and there would subsequently be an increase in the original price. A report regarding this matter would be submitted to the next Committee meeting.

RESOLVED: that the quotation from Maldon Printing Company in the sum of £256.00 plus VAT to print 5000 copies of the Moot Hall information leaflet be approved.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.144
 16. PLUME BUILDING - ACCESS

a. First Floor - Thomas Plume Library

Further to minute 16.5(c) of the Annual Town Council meeting held on 12th May, 2003 members recalled that it had been agreed that Cllrs. Bentley and Moss attend a meeting on 16th May, 2003 with Mr Herrmann and Mr. Pipe, Plume Trustees to discuss access to the Plume Library and the Disability Discrimination Act 2004.

In this respect members received and considered the report of the Town Clerk detailing the meeting where the possibility of an alternative access being constructed from the ground floor to the first floor of the Plume Building was discussed. It was noted that it had been suggested that a small lift could be installed at the opposite end of the building to the spiral staircase but it was felt that this would spoil the appearance of the building which was Grade 1 Listed and would also be very expensive.

The representatives of the Thomas Plume Library had also explained that they were submitting an application for Lottery Funding to enable a library catalogue to be computerised which would allow information regarding the books to be available worldwide. The funding application required a statement, in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 2004, to be submitted regarding disabled access. It was suggested that due to the lack of appropriate funding available for the installation of a lift, members should consider the following statement:

The Town Council has in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act, looked at providing alternative access to the Plume Library, First Floor, Plume Building. In view of the fact that major works would have to be undertaken within the building and the expenditure likely to be incurred is beyond the Council's budget at this present time, arrangements will be made for books from the Library, upon request, to be viewed at the Town Council Offices, Town Hall, Market Hill, Maldon. This building has appropriate access and all the facilities for disabled persons.

In response to a question, the Town Clerk stated that investigations were to be undertaken to improve disabled access to the Ground Floor of the Moot Hall.

Discussion ensued and it was

RECOMMENDED: that the above Statement be accepted by the Town Council.

b. Maeldune Centre

Further to minute 104 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 1st April, 2003 members recalled that it had been reported that the Mayor and Mayoress had undertaken a walk around the town with representatives of the Maldon District Access Group. A list of concerns had subsequently been submitted to the Town Council and it had been agreed that the areas within the Town Council's jurisdiction be investigated. One of the areas of concern had been the step and narrow doors to the Maeldune Centre.

The report indicated that as alterations including the installation of new glass door were to be undertaken at the Maeldune Centre it would be the ideal opportunity to investigate the installation of a ramp to assist with disabled access to the building. It was suggested that Bakers of Danbury Limited be requested to provide a quotation for the provision of a ramp into the building when demolishing the stud wall etc. at the Maeldune Centre.

Discussion ensued and it was

RECOMMENDED: that (i) Bakers of Danbury Ltd. be requested to provide a quotation for the provision of a ramp into the Maeldune Centre;

(ii) reference to the work being undertaken within the Ground Floor of the Plume Building be included in the Access Statement referred to in (a) above.
 17. AUDIT OF ACCOUNT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31ST MARCH, 2002

Members received and considered the report of the Town Clerk regarding the receipt of a letter from the Auditors, Lubbock Fine, Chartered Accountants which stated that they had completed the audit of the Town Council accounts for the year ended 31st March, 2002 and had made the following comments:

(Except for the matters reported below) on the basis of our review, in our opinion the information contained in the annual return is in accordance with the Audit Commission's requirements and no matters have come to our attention giving cause for concern that relevant legislation and regulatory requirements have not been met.

1. The councils Fidelity Guarantee Insurance cover is considered to be too low. The council should consider reviewing the level of cover in view of the level of income and bank balances.

2. The Standing Orders and Financial Regulations require updating to reflect current regulations and procedures.
 17.1 Fidelity Guarantee Insurance

With regard to item 1 above, members recalled that the Town Council had agreed that no action be taken with regard to the Internal Auditor's report of 2nd July, 2002 which had recommended that the Town Council consider increasing the Fidelity Guarantee from £50,000 to £100,000. (minute 40.4(c) of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 3rd September, 2002 refers)

Further enquiries had been made of the Town Council's Insurance Company who stated that the charge, at present to increase the Fidelity Guarantee Insurance to £100,000 for the remainder of the current year would be an additional £59.73, pro rata the number of months remaining this financial year.

The Town Clerk reported that the charge for the additional insurance cover had decreased since her last enquiries in 2002.

Discussion ensued and it was

RECOMMENDED: that the Town Council increases the Fidelity Guarantee Insurance to £100,000 and financial provision be vired from budget head "miscellaneous".
(Local Government Act 1972 s.111)
 17.2 Standing Orders and Financial Regulations

With regard to item 2, members noted that revised Standing Orders were approved at the Annual Council Meeting held on 12th May, 2003 and revised Financial Regulations were circulated to all members with this agenda. (minute 13.4 refers)

RECOMMENDED: that the comments of the Auditor be noted.
 17.3 Audit Fee

Members were informed that the Auditor's fee for auditing the 2001 / 2002 accounts was £900, an increase of £90 on the 2000/2001 audit. It was noted that the sum of £1,400 had been included in the 2002 / 2003 accounts for audit which included the fee for the Internal Auditor.

RECOMMENDED: that the information be noted.
 18. BINDING OF MINUTE BOOK

Members received and considered a quotation from Hipwell Bookbinders, Goldhanger to bind the 2002 / 2003 minute book to match the existing Town Council minute books for the sum of £48.00.

RESOLVED: that the quotation in the sum of £48.00 from Hipwell Bookbinding, Goldhanger to bind the 2002 /2003 minute book be approved.
(Local Government Act 1972 schedule 12, para 41)
 19. MAELDUNE TRUST

Members received and considered the minutes of the Maeldune Trust meeting held on 26th March, 2003.

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Maeldune Trust meeting held on 26th March, 2003 be noted.
 20. QUESTIONS FROM THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

The Chairman adjourned the meeting for questions from the press and public.

In response to a question regarding the end of year accounts the Town Clerk advised that the layout of the Asset Summary contained in the Town Council Accounts for the year end 31st March 2003 was part of the computer package and that Community and Spare Assets were both included as assets. She also stated that the Allotment and amenity land had no value as they were statutory areas and could not be developed and therefore had no specific value. With regard to the valuation of the War Memorial she stated that this was valued by a local stone mason on a regular basis.

Cllr. Savage requested that a specific agenda item to be included on all future agendas for questions from the press and public.
   The meeting closed at 8.10 p.m.

Councillor Mrs Mary Curtis
Chairman

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

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