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MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING
HELD ON MONDAY 21st JULY, 2003 AT 7.30 P.M.
IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM, TOWN HALL.
Amendments.

PRESENT: Chairman: Cllr. Mrs. M. Curtis
Vice Chairman: Cllr. T. Shrimpton
Councillors: Mrs S. Riesebeck, P. Roberts (Deputy Mayor),
S. Savage, K. Smith (Town Mayor) and J. Swallow.
In Attendance: The Town Clerk, Planning Committee Clerk.
Absent: Cllr. Mrs. V. Foster
 21. APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE

An apology for absence was received from Cllr. W. Prior who was representing the District Council at the A.G.M. of the Maldon Citizens Advice Bureau.
 22. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 23RD JUNE, 2003

Members received and considered the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 23rd June, 2003.

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 23rd June, 2003 be approved and adopted.
 23.

 23.1
FINANCIAL REPORTS

Receipts and Expenditure

Members received and considered:

a. Financial reports detailing receipts and expenditure for the period 1st April 2003 to 30th June, 2003.

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

In response to a question, the Town Clerk stated that the Moot Hall chairs were now repaired and had been returned to the Moot Hall but one of the refurbished chairs had remained in the office as it had been shown to members at the Town Council meeting held on 7th July, 2003. She informed members that additional work had to be undertaken to the chairs and this would be discussed later in the meeting.

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.
 23.2 Essex County Council Pension

Further to minute 100.4 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 1st April, 2003 members received a response from the Group Manager - Investments, Essex County Council Pension Fund which confirmed that the Essex County Council Pension Fund had procedures in place to highlight any unacceptable social and environmental investments.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 23.3 Guaranteed Investment Bond

Further to minute 64.5 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 26th November, 2002 some members recalled that the Town Council had invested £50,000 in a six month Co-operative Bank Guaranteed Investment Bond. Members were informed that notification had now been received that the Bond was due to mature on 3rd August, 2003 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

The Town Clerk stated that she could not foresee an occasion where the funds would be required within the next six months and felt that it would be beneficial for the funds to be reinvested.

RESOLVED: that the Town Council invests £50,000 in a Co-operative Bank Guaranteed Investment Bond for a further 6 month period.
 23.4 Membership of Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE)

Members were informed that notification had been received that the Town Council's membership to the Rural Community Council of Essex was due for renewal for a fee of £100 per annum. It was noted that the previous year's fee had been £25 and members were requested to consider whether to renew the membership. Members were informed that the Town Council is affiliated to the RCCE Village Halls at a membership fee of £30 which the Town Clerk felt was more beneficial to the Town Council.

Concern was expressed regarding the considerable increase in the membership fee and it was

RESOLVED: that the Town Council does not renew its membership to the Rural Community Council of Essex.
 24. ALL SAINTS' CHURCH HALL

Further to minute 109 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 1st April, 2003 where it had been agreed that Canon David Atkins be invited to attend a meeting to discuss proposals regarding the development of All Saints' Church Hall. Members were advised that the planning application for residential development of the site had been refused and the Church Hall was now in the process of being sold to the Tai-Chi Society. The Tai-Chi Society had agreed that, by paying rent on use of the hall, the Church could continue to use the building, at least until the end of the year, for the following four activities:

Brownies - weekly
Sunday School - weekly
Mother and Toddlers - weekly
Saints Alive - monthly.

In view of this information it was felt unnecessary for Canon Atkins to attend the meeting, however members noted that he would be attending the Planning Committee meeting to be held on 18th August, 2003 to discuss proposals for an annexe (unattached) to All Saints' Church.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 25. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Further to minute 38 of the Town Council meeting held on 7th July, 2003 members received and considered illustrations of centre motifs for the High Street garlands and wall mounted Christmas Illuminations.

The Chairman informed members that a letter had been received from the Maldon Chamber of Trade and Commerce detailing their suggestions for the Christmas Illuminations; it was noted that a representative from the Chamber of Trade and Commerce had not yet visited the office to view the sample decoration.

The Town Clerk stated that the contractor intended to increase the number of garlands which crossed the High Street and in response to a question she stated that she would contact the contractor to enquire on the exact number of garlands to be located throughout the High Street.

Discussion ensued and members felt that it would look more effective if different motifs were used throughout the High Street. Reference was made to the fact that the suggested motifs vary in weight and it was felt that subject to suitability and approval of the contractor two of each of the seven suggested motifs be selected plus "Santa on the Moon".

RESOLVED: that enquiries be made with the Christmas Illuminations contractor to ascertain the number of motifs which would be required throughout the town and dependant on this figure, they comprise of a mixture of the following motifs:

Snowman, Snowflake, Glowing Candle, Lantern, Tree and Star, Angel, Twin Candle and Santa on the Moon.
 26. BASELINE ON ICE EVENT

Further to minute 7 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 20th May, 2003 members recalled that it had been agreed that a Baseline Ice Skating event should be held during October. The provisional date of 18th October had been booked but the Town Hall had now been hired for a three day event which included the Saturday. In view of this members were informed that Saturday, 11th October, 2003 had subsequently been booked for the Ice Skating event.

In response to a question the Town Clerk advised that a request for assistance at the event would be forwarded to all members nearer to the date.

RESOLVED: that (a) a Baseline on Ice event be held in the Town Hall on Saturday, 11th October, 2003;

(b) members' assistance at the event would be requested nearer to the booked date.
(Local Government Act 1972, s144)
 27. CANON DIGITAL CAMERA

Further to minute 6 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 20th May, 2003 where it had been agreed that a Canon Powershot A40 digital camera be purchased from Silicon Alley, members were informed that it had subsequently been ascertained that this camera had been discontinued and superseded by model A70 which was approximately £55 more expensive. Cllr. Savage informed members that a magazine had voted the A70 model of the camera top of its range. In response to a question the Town Clerk stated that the camera would be used to record problems which may occur in the Town Hall after it has been hired, for the Maldon in Bloom campaign and to record other Town Council organised events etc.

In response to a question regarding the use of the camera for pictures to be included on the Town Council's website it was agreed that Cllr. Savage could have occasional use of the camera.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the Town Council purchase a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera in the sum of £299 from Silicon Alley;

(b) Cllr. Savage be allowed the occasional use of the digital camera for pictures to be included on the website.
(Local Government Act 1972, s.111)
 28. EUROPEAN YEAR OF DISABLED PEOPLE - 2003

Further to minute 104.1 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 1st April, 2003 where it had been agreed that, subject to the approval of Landmark Estate Agents, a poster be displayed at the White Horse Lane Public Conveniences stating that toilet facilities for the disabled were available at the Kings Head Centre but indicating that a radar key was required.

Members received a response from the Director of Landmark Estate Agents who stated that as the disabled toilet facility was for the use of tenants and customers of the centre they could not agree to the Town Council's request.

In response to a question it was noted that disabled toilet facilities were available at the Butt Lane Public Conveniences.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 29. MOOT HALL CHAIRS

Further to minute 106.2 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 1st April, 2003 members received and considered a letter from Clive Beardall regarding the refurbishment of 24 chairs within the Moot Hall which stated that upon removal of upholstery and dismantling of the chairs the following unforeseen restoration work had been found:

1. Various corner blocks missing (to make and fit)

2. Various tenon joints broken (to re-make)

3. Various inferior repairs done previously to keep chairs together

This additional amount of work would cost an extra £20.00 per chair plus VAT i.e. £480.00 plus VAT over and above the original estimate in January 03.

Discussion ensued and Cllr. Shrimpton stated that he had viewed the chairs at various stages of restoration and he confirmed that the extra work was necessary; members were also shown photographs of the refurbishment of the chairs and it was

RESOLVED: that the additional invoice from Clive Beardall in the additional sum of £480.00 plus VAT for the refurbishment of 24 chairs within the Moot Hall be approved.
(Local Government Act 1972 s.133)
(amended - minute 51.3 of the Town Council meeting held on 11th August, 2003)
 30. BYRHTNOTH

At the request of the Mayor members considered purchasing a miniature statute of Byrhtnoth for the sum of £1,200.

The Mayor informed members that he and the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Roberts, had attended an evening reception and subsequent committee meeting at the studio of the sculptor, John Doubleday, where the project to build a statute of Byrhtnoth to be located in the Promenade Park was discussed. To assist with funding the project a limited number of miniature bronze statues of Byrhtnoth were being commissioned and sold at a cost of £1,200 each, of which £1,000 would be donated towards the project. The Mayor expressed the view that this would be a valuable asset towards the town's heritage as Mr Doubleday was a world renown sculptor.

Discussion ensued as to where the statue should be located including the Town Hall, Moot Hall and Maeldune Centre. It was felt that because it will form part of the town's heritage it should be housed in the Moot Hall where it could be viewed by members of the public visiting the building.

The Town Clerk advised that funds towards the cost of the statue were available in the Heritage and Regalia Estimate Head and could also be vired from the Donations Estimate Head.

Members agreed that the Town Council should purchase a statue and that Mr. Doubleday be invited to present it to the Town Council.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the Town Council purchase a miniature bronze statue of Byrhtnoth in the sum of £1,200;

(b) an official reception be held when the statue is received. (Essex Act 1987, s.48)

(Reference was made after the meeting to the fact that if necessary some of the interest received in respect of the existing Guaranteed Investment Bond could be utilised for this purpose).
 31. COMPUTERS

At the request of the Mayor members considered investigating maintenance contracts for the office computers and updating the existing equipment.

The Mayor expressed his concern regarding the repeated problems which were occurring with the office computers. He was aware that a Councillor was spending many voluntary hours helping to update and maintain the current office computers but problems with the machines were still occurring on a regular basis. He felt that it would be beneficial for the Town Council to consider obtaining a maintenance contract for the machines.

Concern was also expressed regarding confidentiality and the need to protect the Councillor to ensure there is not a contravention of the "Code of Conduct".

The view was expressed that it would be better for the machines to be replaced at an approximate cost of £1,500 per machine rather than investigating maintenance contracts. It was reported that new printers and a scanner may be required to be compatible with the up to date software and any new machines would come with a three year warranty which included updates to software.

It was suggested that investigations should be undertaken to obtain information and prices for a suitable office computer system and the matter be considered at the 2004 / 2005 Estimates meeting. However, if funds become available later in the year then the purchase of computers should be considered further.

The Mayor felt that the Town Council's gratitude should be extended to the Councillor for all the free time he had given to assist in maintaining and updating the office computers.

In response to a question it was suggested that a quotation be obtained from "Dell" computers but it was also noted that two alternative quotations would be required.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) quotations be obtained for three new computers and associated equipment for use in the Town Council offices;

(b) should funds become available later in the 2003 /2004 financial year then the matter be considered at that time or alternatively be deferred until the Estimate meeting.
 32. COURSES

Members received the reports of Cllr. Savage, circulated at the meeting, regarding his attendance at the following training courses organised by the Essex Association of Local Councils:

a. (i) Finance - 3rd June, 2003
(ii) Raising the Profile - 11th June, 2003

b. The Councillor Training Day - 4th July, 2003
Cllrs. Mrs Riesebeck and Shrimpton had also attended this training day.

RESOLVED: that the reports of Cllr. Savage be noted.
 33. QUESTIONS FROM THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

There were no questions from the Press and Public.

The meeting closed at 8.50 p.m.
   Councillor Mrs Mary Curtis
Chairman

The Chairman closed the meeting at 8.50 p.m.

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



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

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