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MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING
HELD ON MONDAY 8th SEPTEMBER, 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, S. Savage, K. Smith (Town Mayor)
and J. Swallow.
In Attendance: Cllr. I. Mackenzie, District Councillor Mrs. B. Keighley, one member of the public, the Town Clerk and Administrative Assistant.
Absent: Cllr. Mrs. V. Foster
 34. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr. P. Roberts and Cllr. W. Prior who was representing the Town Council at a meeting of the Maldon Chamber of Trade and Commerce.
 35. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 21ST JULY, 2003

Members received and considered the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st July, 2003.

Minute 23.1 - Receipts and Expenditure
In response to a question regarding the additional payment for the renovation of chairs in the Moot Hall, the Town Clerk advised that the payment was not shown in the accounts attached to the minutes as it was authorised at that meeting. It was noted that the payment was shown on the accounts attached with the agenda for this meeting.

Minute 30 - Byrhtnoth
Cllr. Savage referred to the sentence in brackets and italics at the end of the minute and said this should not have been included. He felt that the comments should have been included on a future agenda and not an addendum to a minute.

The Town Clerk reported that, she had been requested to investigate where the funds for the statue could be vired from and as a result had added the sentence for the convenience of members.
The Chairman reminded Cllr. Savage that these minutes had been approved at the Council Meeting on 11th August, 2003 and any amendments should have been raised then.

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 21st July, 2003 be approved and adopted.
 36.

 36.1
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 July, 2003.

The Town Clerk drew members' attention to the 'Moot Hall Maintenance Fund' budget heading which took account of the renovation work to the Moot Hall chairs.

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

In response to a question the Town Clerk stated that at least two months previously the new bus shelter had been installed in the High Street outside Shoe Zone.

With regard to the payment in respect of the Town Centre Manager, the Town Clerk confirmed that the invoice received from the District Council was for two quarterly payments covering the period 1st April - 30th September, 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.
 36.2 Internal Audit

Members received and considered the report of Mr C. Jones, Internal Auditor in respect of the Town Council accounts for the 2002 / 03 financial year.

In response to a question regarding item 6 - Wages - the Town Clerk advised that the calculations for the Town Council wages and salaries were now contracted out to an independent source.

The Town Clerk advised that the documents mentioned in item 7 - Annual Return - had not been received from the External Auditor when the Internal Auditor had reported on 13th June, 2003. However, members attention was drawn to item 13 which stated that the documents had subsequently been received by the Internal Auditor who had been able to complete his section of the Annual Return without any adverse comments.

With reference to item 11 - 11 Market Hill - members noted that notification had now been received from the Solicitors acting for the owner of the property stating that following their client's illness they had not received any instructions and they were no longer acting in this case. The Town Council's Solicitor had therefore closed his file regarding this matter.

RESOLVED: that the information be noted.
 36.3 Rural Community Council for Essex - Village Halls Conference

Members were informed that notification had been received from the Rural Community Council for Essex of a Village Halls Conference to be held on Saturday, 18th October, 2003 at Feering Community Centre for a fee of £13 per delegate.

In response to a question, the Town Clerk stated that she had previously attended a similar conference and had found that the topics being discussed had been more relevant to village halls which were run by Management Committees.

RESOLVED: that the Town Council should not be represented at the Rural Community Council of Essex - Village Halls Conference to be held on 18th October, 2003.
 36.4 Essex Disabled People's Association (EDPA)

Further to minute 5.2(b) of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 20th May, 2003 members recalled that it had been agreed that a donation of £300 should be forwarded to the EDPA for their Travel Voucher Scheme and in this respect a letter from the Association regarding their Lottery bid to obtain funding for 2003 - 2006 was received and considered.

The Town Clerk advised members that the Town Council's donation would not be forwarded to EDPA until their funding problems had been resolved.

RESOLVED: that the letter from EDPA be noted.
 37. NOTES OF THE CINEMA WORKING PARTY MEETING HELD ON 21ST JULY, 2003

Members received and considered the notes of the Cinema Working Party meeting held on 21st July, 2003.

Note 4 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Cllr. Savage suggested that the profit made in respect of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets could be offset against the funding for a Cinematograph Licence which, once obtained, would allow films to be shown on a more regular basis. He suggested that Sunday afternoons would be a popular time to show films.

The Town Clerk advised that bookings were be subject to the availability of the Town Hall which was currently heavily booked on Saturdays and on some Sunday afternoons.

Note 5 - Future Films
Cllr. Savage advised members that the suggested compressor/limiter and noise gate had been superseded by a new model and the cost may be more than £60. The Chairman made reference to the fact that the recommendation contained in the notes stated approximately £60.

The Chairman suggested that it would be beneficial if more people were to be trained to operate the projection equipment.

RESOLVED: that (a) more people be trained to operate the projection equipment;

(b) in all other respects the notes of the Cinema Working Party meeting held on 21st July, 2003 be approved.
 38.

 38.1
TOWN HALL

Hire Charges

Further to minute 42.2 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 3rd September, 2002 members received and considered the report of the Town Clerk regarding a review of the Town Hall hire charges.

Cllr. Mackenzie was of the opinion that the Town Council should set its prices independently and not in line with other similar facilities available in the vicinity.

The Chairman felt that it was necessary for members to consider the cost of maintaining the building and facilities now that the number of hall bookings had increased considerably. It was noted that the floor was to be re-sealed on an annual basis and the Town Clerk said that she would investigate the areas of the floor where it had been observed that the sealant was peeling away.

In response to information regarding damage to the stage floor the Town Clerk said she would investigate the matter and have the problem rectified.

Cllr. Savage declared a personal interest in this item and from this point took no part in discussions regarding hire charges.

Discussions ensued and it was

RECOMMENDED: that (a) all hourly rates be increased by £1.00 per hour from 1st April, 2004;

(b) there should be an additional cleaning charge of £25 for function lets such as weddings and birthday parties;

(c) the hire fee in respect of weddings remains unchanged.
 38.2 Rateable Value

Members were informed that, as a result of negotiations by the Town Clerk with the Valuation Office, the following revised rateable value for the Town Hall had been agreed which would be backdated to April, 2001:

Original rateable value   £20,750
Revised rateable value   £16,250

It was noted that a rebate would be received from the Maldon District Council once the relevant information had been forwarded by the Valuation Office. The Chairman congratulated the Town Clerk for negotiating the revised rateable value.

It was suggested that the rebate could be used to fund replacement office computers and Cllr. Savage expressed the view that a Working Party should be set up to look at future requirements in this respect. However, the view was expressed that it would be more appropriate for computer consultants to advise on this matter, following consultation with the computer users.

Discussion ensued and it was

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the information regarding the revised rateable value of the Town Hall be noted;

(b) investigations be undertaken regarding new office computers.
 39. RISK ASSESSMENT

Members received and considered a Risk Assessment of Town Council owned property and land which had been produced by the Town Clerk.

Discussion ensued and the following comments were made:

Town Hall - Balcony
The view was expressed that when the cinema projection equipment was in use it should not be left unattended. Accordingly, it was suggested that the third sentence of this section should be amended to read, "When projector equipment is being used a projectionist is to be in attendance at all times."

Town Hall - Hall
In response to a question regarding the maximum load for the lighting bar, the Town Clerk stated that, to date, she had been unable to find this information and it was suggested that the architect be contacted regarding this matter.

Town Hall - Stage
The Town Clerk advised that when the Fire Officer had last inspected the Hall he had made no adverse comments regarding either the curtains or the fire extinguishers on the stage.

Reference was made to the fact that it was felt the fire extinguishers located on the stage were not suitable for use on electrical equipment. The Town Clerk said that Fire Prevention Services visited the Hall twice a year and she would check the situation during their next visit. Cllr. Savage asked to be informed of the date of this visit, if prior notification was given, so he could be present.

It was reported that some of the luminous arrows on the stairs leading to the upper changing room were missing and the Town Clerk stated the Handyman would be requested to rectify the situation.

The Town Clerk reported that notices were in situ regarding the instruction for the heater filter systems to be left switched on at all times.

Cllr. Savage expressed concern regarding a large splinter on the stage floor; the Town Clerk stated that she would ask the Handyman to investigate the matter. She also referred to wiring which had been fixed to the stage floor by the Pantomime Society and covered with a plastic protector and enquired if coloured tape could be placed over this. Cllr. Savage stated that he would be visiting the Offices to discuss the matter in the near future.

Moot Hall - Access to Turret
Cllr. Savage expressed the view that the bolts on the Moot Hall flag pole stays were damaging the Town Council flags and felt that these should be covered. The Town Clerk said that she had not been aware of any problems but she would investigate the matter.

Closed Churchyards
It was noted that another inspection of headstones was to be undertaken with the District Council Officer and that all stones which failed a topple test would immediately be laid flat on the ground.

RECOMMENDED: that (a) the wording of the third sentence under "Town Hall, Balcony" be amended to read, "When projection equipment is being used, a projectionist is to be in attendance at all times";

(b) the Town Hall architect be contacted for information regarding the weight restriction of the lighting bar in the hall;

(c) the Handyman be requested to rectify the problems with the luminous arrows leading to the upper changing room and repair the damage to the stage floor;

(d) investigation be undertaken regarding the bolts on the Moot Hall flag pole stays;

(e) in all other respects the Risk Assessment be approved.
 40. CONSULTATION ON CHANGES TO SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION POLICY

Members received and considered a letter from the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools, Essex County Council regarding consultation on changes to the policy for the transport of:

(1) children of compulsory school age (11-16) attending denominational secondary schools on grounds of their faith;
(2) children of compulsory school age (11-16) attending selective (grammar) schools and
(3) children of compulsory school age (5-16) whose families purchase a spare (concessionary) seat on contracted transport.

A member expressed concern that the proposed new policy would be taxing those who could least afford it but it was explained that the changes would affect children attending specifically chosen schools outside the three mile concessionary limit and catchment areas.

RECOMMENDED: that the letter from the Essex County Council regarding changes to the policy for school transport be noted.
 41. NOTES OF THE MAELDUNE TRUST MEETING HELD ON 20TH AUGUST, 2003

Members received and considered the notes of the Maeldune Trust meeting held on 20th August, 2003.

Cllr. Mackenzie said he was present at the meeting which had not been quorate; however, he had found it very interesting and felt that the people running the Centre deserve praise.

In response to a question, the Town Clerk stated that approximately 6000 copies of the Town Guide remained and it was suggested that their availability could be advertised on the Town Council website.

RESOLVED: that (a) the availability of the Town Guide be advertised on the Town Council website;

(b) the notes of the Maeldune Trust meeting held on 20th August, 2003 be noted.
 42. STAFF APPRAISAL

Further to minute 71 of the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting held on 26th November, 2002 regarding staff appraisals it was

RECOMMENDED: that the Mayor and Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Committee undertake an appraisal of the Town Clerk at 6.30 p.m. on 6th October, 2003 and a report on Staff Appraisal be submitted to the Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting to be held on 15th October, 2003.
 43. QUESTIONS FROM THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

In response to a question regarding film shows and obtaining films which were not yet on general release, the Town Clerk stated that this had been possible with "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"; hence the success of the showing in the Town Hall. It was pointed out that the Town Council tried to obtain copies prior to general release; however, the Town Hall was now booked on most weekends until after Christmas.

A question was asked regarding the updating of the Town Council Assets Register and the Town Clerk stated that the valuation had up to two years ago been increased annually in line with inflation. However, she had spoken to the firm who had previously undertaken the valuation and they had advised that the cost to re-value the assets would be considerable and that as prices were not rising it would not be necessary for the assets to be re-valued. The Town Clerk advised that all acquisitions made by the Town Council were added to the register which was available for inspection in the Office.

Councillor Mrs Mary Curtis
Chairman

The Chairman closed the meeting at 8.26 p.m.

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



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

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