Minutes – Finance Committee – 20 October 2020
The minutes of this meeting are presented below.
You can also download a PDF copy of the minutes here: Minutes – Finance Committee – 20 October 2020
Additional papers referred to in the minutes are only available for download in PDF format as follows:
MINUTES OF THE VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE
HELD ON TUESDAY 20 OCTOBER 2020 AT 2.00PM
- Councillor Scicluna (Chairman)
- Councillor Barrie (Vice-Chairman)
- Councillor Dignum
- Councillor Harry
- Councillor K Hughes
- The Mayor (Councillor Plowman)
- The Deputy Mayor (Councillor J Hughes)
- Councillor Apel (Chairman of Community Affairs)
- Councillor Joy (Chairman of Planning and Conservation)
ALSO IN ATTENDANCE:
- Town Clerk
- Deputy Town Clerk (Responsible Finance Officer)
- Property Manager
- Member Services Support Officer
- Kelly Watson (Relationship Manager, CCLA Investment Management)
- Tim Reedman (St James’s Palace Wealth Management)
60. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
No apologies for absence were received.
61. MINUTES OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 15 SEPTEMBER 2020
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Meeting of the Finance Committee held on 15 September 2020, having been circulated; be approved and signed as a correct record at a later date.
62. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST BY MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE IN MATTERS ON THE AGENDA FOR THIS MEETING
The Mayor and Councillors Apel, Barrie, Dignum and K Hughes declared a personal interest as Members of Chichester District Council.
At this point the Chairman moved to take Agenda item 8 out of order to allow the representative from CCLA Investment Management to leave the meeting before items of internal interest were discussed.
63. COUNCIL INVESTMENTS REVIEW
The Chairman welcomed Kelly Watson from CCLA Investment Management.
The Deputy Town Clerk informed Members that Ms Watson was present to advise the Committee about the structure of the City Council’s investment in the Property Fund and how it had been performing recently.
Ms Watson gave a brief description of her background and then gave Members a short Powerpoint presentation (slides have been previously sent to Councillors, copies attached to Minutes for reference).
The briefing for Councillors outlined the measures that CCLA had taken at the start of the pandemic and informed the Committee that, despite turbulent activity in the market, the Property Fund had performed well and had outperformed the market as a whole. This had meant that CCLA had managed to continue to generate a relatively stable income for its investors as the vast majority of tenants in CCLA investment properties had been able to meet their rent payments.
Ms Watson gave Members an overview of the portfolio exposure by property type and clarified that, due to the high quality of the properties in the portfolio, they had managed to continue letting properties through the lockdown period.
The Committee were also reassured that the tenant mix in CCLA properties had been externally assessed and shown to be largely in the lower than average risk group. Further reassurance was given by the Property Fund’s A+ rating on the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment assessment.
The Mayor raised concerns about the economic situation in the future and how office working structures may affect demand for such corporate space. Ms Watson assured Members that CCLA were carefully monitoring this situation. She advised the Committee that, if there were to be a shift away from current use of the buildings, then CCLA had been reviewing potential alternative uses for those properties. An example was given of an office block which had the potential to be converted in to good quality residential property should the need arise.
The Chairman thanked Ms Watson for her informative and succinct presentation.
64. UPDATE FROM THE PREVIOUS MINUTES
The Chairman noted that there were no significant updates to the following previous Minutes:
- Minute 7(c) referenced in Minute 47 – Chichester City Council Business Plan
- Minute 20 referenced in Minute 47 – Agenda and Minuting Software
- Minute 21 referenced in Minute 47 – Council House telephone system upgrade
(a) Minute 46 – Chichester Canal Trust CIL funding request
The Deputy Town Clerk confirmed that the City Council had agreed to include a request from Chichester Canal Trust for £10,000 from CIL funds on condition that the Trust undertook additional fund raising in support of their activities.
Members were advised that the Trust had already set up a SpaceHive page which had received pledges of £3,300 at the time of the meeting.
(b) Minute 47 – Credit card machine replacement options
The Member Services Support Officer advised the Committee that Officers had chosen to use the services provided by Square Pay as the replacement for the current Barclaycard service.
Members were further advised that an account with Square Pay had been set up and the new card machine purchased and tested.
The Committee was informed that Officers were currently integrating the Square Pay system in to the City Council’s financial processes.
(c) Minute 47 – Council House exterior works
The Property Manager updated the Committee on the progress to date of the Council House exterior works project.
Members were advised that Nutbourne Construction had been appointed to undertake the work and a pre-start meeting would be held on 5 November 2020. Members were further advised that the current planned start date would be 30 November 2020.
The Committee was further advised that, prior to starting, the contractor would be setting up a work compound and comfort area in the Mayor’s car park. The Property Manager expressed his hope that some parking space would remain at the front of the car park for essential use only.
(d) Minute 47 – Council House portico
The Property Manager reported that 50.8 Architects had been appointed to undertake the design work for enclosing the Council House portico.
Members were informed that the architects were now undertaking the stage 2 concept design and it was hoped that these designs would be available early in 2021 for the Property Sub-Committee to review. It was hoped that this would then result in a final design being selected to be put forward for detailed development and Listed Buildings consent.
(e) Minute 47 – Chichester City Council Standing Orders review
The Committee noted that the new Standing Orders had been approved by Full Council at the meeting held on 23 September 2020.
(f) Minute 47(a) – The Market House
The Committee noted that, at the time of putting the agenda together, no updates had been received from Orion Developments (Southern) Ltd with regards to the changes to the head lease on the Market House.
The Deputy Town Clerk reported that, since the agenda had been sent out, Orion Developments (Southern) Ltd had advised the City Council that they were declining the offer to change the head lease.
Members were advised that Orion Developments (Southern) Ltd were discussing a temporary lease for unit 1 of the Market House and that discussions about the leasing of unit 4 as a coffee shop were still ongoing.
(g) Minute 47(b) – Chichester Rugby Club New Homes Bonus
The Deputy Town Clerk reminded Members that a decision about the New Homes Bonus had been made at the meeting of the Finance Committee held on 15 September 2020, and that the decision had been to decline the application for reimbursement.
Members were informed that the Rugby Club had appealed this decision. The Chairman confirmed that as the decision had been ratified by the Council it could not be rescinded for a minimum of six months.
(h) Minute 47(c) – Website upgrade project
The Member Services Support Officer gave a further brief update on the progress of this project.
Members were advised that the contractor, VoxIT, had continued to provide active feedback and that further positive discussions had been taking place about the City Council’s requirements. Members were further advised the contractor was in the process of transferring the website content to the new site and that access to a test system would be made available shortly.
(i) Minute 47(d) – Council House Energy and Water Audit
The Property Manager advised that the report had now been received and circulated to Members of the Property Sub-Committee.
Members were informed that the report had recommended, among other things, additional solar panels on the roof of the Assembly Room and more efficient controls for the heating system.
Members were further informed that the work recommended in the report qualified for Government Salix grant funding and that the author of the report, Save Money Cut Carbon, was in the process of preparing grant applications to cover all the recommendations.
The Property Manager advised that the outcome of the grant applications was expected by the end of November 2020, at which point the work would move forward and would be managed by Save Money Cut Carbon.
Members were assured that if the grant applications were unsuccessful, the City Council would be under no obligation to proceed with the works.
The Property Manager then advised Members that some of the works recommended in the report did not qualify for Salix funding. These included flow restrictors on the taps and water saving toilet flush mechanisms at a cost of £1,800. He acknowledged that, in the current budget year, finding this additional funding would be difficult but he advised that the work should be undertaken when the funds allowed. The Property Manager informed Members that the investment in these measure would come with pay back through lower energy and water costs.
The Chairman expressed support for the work being undertaken.
Councillor Joy asked whether the report had advised changes to the current heating boilers. The Property Manager confirmed that this had been commented on and that moves should be made towards more efficient boilers in the future. The report also advised that air or ground source heat pumps would not be practical solutions for the Council House and that the most viable solution for the operating conditions in the Council House would be more efficient gas boilers.
The Mayor asked about the longevity of the Salix grants that were being applied for. The Property Manager advised that the applications were very well timed as the grants were only available on a first come first served basis between the beginning of September and the end of November.
(j) Minute 47(e) – Litten Gardens paving
The Property Manager reported that the old crazy paving that had formed the outer path at Litten Gardens had now been lifted and replaced with the Breedon Stone compacted gravel path. Members were advised that positive feedback had been received for the new path.
Members were further advised that the Property Manager had received a quote to complete the work with the replacement of the two circular paths around the war memorial. The quoted cost would be £5,876 which included the addition of timber edging to help retain the proposed new gravel paths.
The Chairman expressed serious concerns about the look and longevity of the new path and that she felt that the path surface looked unfinished. She also expressed concerns that the loose gravel on the surface presented a potential safety hazard for walkers and when the grass was being mowed.
The Deputy Mayor agreed with the Chairman. He felt that the surface had not been properly finished and it looked like it had already been damaged by someone walking along the paths.
The Property Manager confirmed that he felt the path had been correctly laid and that similar paths had been successfully installed at Bishop’s Palace Gardens and in many National Trust properties. He also agreed to monitor the surface for wear and tear and safety concerns.
The Mayor expressed support for the new path and commented that he felt that the newness of the path was causing the concerns. He further commented that he felt that the path would improve with age as it bedded in.
Following a request for comment from the Chairman, Councillor K Hughes stated that he regularly walked past or through Litten Gardens and he felt the surface looked fine.
The Town Clerk reminded Members that the Property Manager had made a request to undertake further works on the paths at Litten Gardens.
The Property Manager clarified that the additional work would replace both the upper and lower circular paths around the war memorial. He also confirmed that the replacement of the paths would have no impact on the Scheduled Monument status of the war memorial.
Councillor Apel asked the Property Manager whether he felt it was necessary to replace the paths at this time. The Property Manager advised that regular repair work had to be undertaken on the crazy paving (ramp and top) path due to its age and condition. He also confirmed that the lower path, while still in reasonable condition, was constructed from standard utility slabs and not in keeping with the general look of Litten Gardens.
The Chairman expressed concerns about whether such spending was appropriate given the impact of the pandemic on the Council’s Finances. The Deputy Town Clerk advised that this request for funding had been unexpected and suggested that, while funds were available in the Public Realm budget, it might be more appropriate for a report to go to the Property Sub-Committee.
The Mayor agreed that the Property Sub-Committee would be the best place to discuss further works on the paths as it would allow the Sub-Committee to balance it with the other demands on the Public Realm budget. He also stated that he felt the short delay would give the new path a chance to bed down.
The Chairman agreed and commented that it would also allow the other Members the opportunity to see the new path and form an opinion on any further path replacement works.
The Committee agreed to refer the matter of replacing the two paths around the Litten Gardens memorial to the Property Sub-Committee for further consideration.
(k) Minute 47(f) – St James Property Team Maintenance Compound
The Property Manager confirmed that the site cabin had been purchased at a cost of £3,000. He also confirmed that the cabin had now been installed at St James allotments.
The Committee were advised that good progress had been made on installing the solar power and lighting with the only outstanding component being the power inverter which was expected imminently.
The Property Manager offered Members the chance to visit the site to view the new facilities.
(l) Minute 53 – Chichester Street naming book
The Town Clerk expressed his thanks to the Chairman, local resident Mr David Wilson and the Member Services Support Officer for their efforts in producing the new edition of the street naming book.
The Member Services Support Officer confirmed that progress was being made on obtaining quotes for the printing of the book and registering the details on the relevant bibliographic databases.
The Chairman told Members that she had greatly enjoyed being involved with the project and was looking forward to seeing the finished product.
The Mayor suggested that, given her involvement with the street naming book and her recent passing, a dedication might be included to former Deputy Mayor Councillor Val Gostling.
The Chairman agreed and further suggested that a dedication be included to Mr Ken Green who had produced the original edition of the book.
(m) Minute 54 – Community Wardens – changes to funding
The Deputy Town Clerk advised that, further to the discussion held by the Committee at the meeting on the 15 September 2020, Chichester District Council had reviewed the request to alter the Community Wardens funding structure to distribute the cost of the Senior Warden among the funding organisation.
Members were informed that Chichester District Council had decided not to alter the terms of the original agreement and that the funding would be assessed when the overall agreement itself was due to be reviewed in March 2022.
The Chairman expressed her strong support for the Community Wardens and the invaluable work they undertook around the City.
Councillor Apel asked the Deputy Town Clerk to confirm that all Community Wardens would continue in their current form. Councillor Apel was advised that it was the Deputy Town Clerk’s belief that the agreement would continue to run in its current form until the review in March 2022.
The Town Clerk suggested that the March 2022 review would result in the District Council offering control of the Community Wardens to the contributing Parishes, along with responsibility for 100% funding it. This suggestion was supported by Councillor Dignum.
(n) Minute 55 – Civic Awards and Co-vid 19 Awards
The Committee noted that the Civic Awards for 2020 had been agreed and all recipients had been notified.
The Committee further noted that Council had agreed at the 7 October 2020 meeting that a new one off award for good works by individuals and organisations in support of the residents and community in Chichester during the pandemic would be created. Members were advised that the closing date for nominations would be 8 January 2021 and that the ceremony would be held within the current Mayoralty.
The Mayor thanked the Member Services Support Officer for his efforts in making the information and nomination forms available for the new awards.
The Mayor also clarified that the new award was specifically for individuals and organisations who had stepped up during the pandemic and that it had been separated from the annual Civic Awards to allow both groups of recipients to be honoured effectively.
Post meeting note: Further information and the nomination form is available on the City Council website by following this link – https://chichestercity.gov.uk/covid-19-civic-awards/
(o) Minute 56 – Remembrance Sunday 2020 arrangements
The Member Services Support Officer advised the Committee that the City Council Officers had been making arrangements for Remembrance Sunday commemorations with plans being guided by the national Covid19 rules and regulations.
Members were further advised that, in order to meet the guidelines, the arrangements had been cut back compared to previous years and that what would be happening on the day would be the very basic British Royal Legion act of remembrance. The two minute silence would be observed with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant and the Mayor laying wreaths on behalf of the Crown and the City respectively.
The commemoration would be filmed and included in a longer video of the full service of Remembrance which would be published on the City Council’s website on Remembrance Sunday.
The Member Services Support Officer informed Councillors that the pre-filmed elements of the service had been completed and that Mr Clive Hand of Chichester Film and Video Makers was working on editing the material together. He also informed Councillors that he would be making shorter videos with some veterans sharing their thoughts about and memories of Remembrance.
In response to a question from the Chairman, the Member Services Support Officer confirmed that the City Council’s message was to remember from home and that wreaths could be laid at the memorial in LItten Gardens throughout the day and not just at 11am. He further confirmed that publicity materials and communications were being sent out to this effect.
Councillor Apel asked about Councillor attendance at the memorial on Remembrance Sunday. The Town Clerk responded by advising that Councillors were welcome to attend on the day but not necessarily at the same time as the wreath laying. He confirmed that the City Council was putting in place a framework for a safe commemoration that people could observe in their own time and in their own way, but that it was not appropriate for the City Council to ban or otherwise control those private arrangements that people wished to make.
He also emphasised that anyone attending should observe all the guidelines in place at the time including social distancing, observing social bubbles, face masks and no mingling.
Further to a question from Councillor Apel, the Town Clerk informed Members that he had received confirmation from the Chairmen of West Sussex County Council and Chichester District Council; that they would not be attending Litten Gardens to lay wreaths at 11am on Remembrance Sunday.
Post meeting note: In light of revised Government guidance issued after the meeting, and in order to observe one of the key principles of safeguarding the clinically vulnerable; it was with some regret that a decision was made that there would be no formal, organised Act of Remembrance at the war memorial as outlined in the Minute above. However, wreath laying would take place at any time prior to, or post, Remembrance Sunday.
65. NEW HOMES BONUS
(a) The Deputy Town Clerk summarised the New Homes Bonus (Parish Allocations) 2020/21 – Chichester City Council document that had been received from Chichester District Council and circulated with the agenda.
The Committee was advised of the condition attached to the allocation for the Council House Portico (NHB06/20). This stated that “some of the [New Homes Bonus] Panel Members are also members of the Council’s Planning Committee, and in the event that the proposed planning application is considered by that Committee, those Members have confirmed that the positive decision in respect of funding the application is at no prejudice to the determination of that Planning matter.”
The Committee RESOLVED to note and accept the condition as stipulated within the allocation documentation dated 23 September 2020.
(b) The Deputy Town Clerk then summarised the approval received from Chichester District Council of the 3 month extension to the 2017/2018 New Homes Bonus allocation to the New Park Community and Arts Association.
The Committee noted that the new deadline would be 5 January 2021.
The Chairman commented that she didn’t feel that the extra three months would make any real difference given the pandemic situation and the fall off in revenue that the New Park Centre would be experiencing.
The Deputy Town Clerk advised the Committee that since this variation approval had been received, the New Park Community and Arts Association had advised that the heating project costs had changed significantly and were requesting authorisation to use the funds for an alternative project. The Deputy Town Clerk also advised the Committee that this would require a further application for a variation and approval by the City Council and the District Council which she did not think would be realistic in the given time frame.
Councillor Barrie left the meeting
66. CHICHESTER CITY COUNCIL DRAFT BUDGET – 2021-2022
The Chairman declared a personal interest as Honorary Vice Chairman of the City Band.
The Deputy Town Clerk advised Members that, following meetings with other Parish Councils, it was felt by some that two budgets should be prepared. These could take the form of a worst case scenario budget and a more positive budget using more favourable forecasts. She informed the Committee that advice was also being given to budget on a no income basis.
The Chairman agreed with the Deputy Town Clerk that final decisions about the 2021-2022 budget should be delayed as long as possible in the hope that the situation regarding lockdowns and restrictions on daily life would become clearer.
The Deputy Town Clerk presented the draft budget for the City Council for 2021-2022, a copy of which had been circulated with the agenda.
The Deputy Town Clerk summarised the main areas that were impacting on the budget for 2021-2022, the most significant of these being the severe effect on City Council income that the national lockdowns for the Covid19 pandemic had had.
Members were advised of cost savings that would be included in the 2021-2022 budget due to some activities, such as Chichester in Bloom, being severely curtailed under to the national restrictions.
Members were also advised that, given the current budget proposals and subject to notification of the tax base by Chichester District Council, the City Council precept would show a 6.81% increase. This equated to an increase of £3.94 per Band D property (less than 7.5p per week).
The Deputy Town Clerk informed the Committee that she expected the tax base to decrease this year due to financial difficulties being experienced by residents of the city. The Committee was further informed that this could apply upward pressure on the City Council’s precept.
The Committee agreed that the ongoing pandemic and restrictions on normal life were of particular concern, as was their impact on the City Council’s financial position.
The Mayor expressed his support for the annual Gold Level Sponsor payment to the City Band.
The Mayor was also supportive of the Committee taking time to consider the information they had been given about the Property Fund to enable an informed decision to be made about the future of the City Council’s investments.
Councillor Apel asked about the frequency with which the City Council reviewed its investments. The Deputy Town Clerk advised Members that investments were continually reviewed through the monitoring of the regular statements received from the investment companies. She further advised that she would be happy to present a quarterly summary to the Committee in the future.
The Mayor suggested the creation of a small working group to review the City Council’s investments to ensure they represented the best use of the public money they had been entrusted with.
It was subsequently proposed, seconded and RESOLVED to create a working group to review the City Council’s investments. The constitution and terms of reference of the group were to be decided.
Councillor Dignum suggested that contact should be made with Officers at Chichester District Council who had been reviewing the tax base and the effects of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme which had potential knock-on implications for the City Council.
Councillor Dignum also asked the Deputy Town Clerk about the projections in the draft budget indicating very low expectations for the income from the Council House for the year 2020-2021.
The Deputy Town Clerk responded that she had taken a slightly pessimistic view on the Council House income due to the restrictions and lack of enquiries for additional bookings. She informed Councillors that she had left in the income from the bulk and regular bookings such as Cards for Good Causes and the Vintage Markets which, at the time of the meeting, would still be going ahead.
Councillor Dignum commented on the need to look at the Property Fund over the long term as, on current valuations, a capital loss would be realised if the investment were to be liquidated. The Mayor expressed his agreement and informed Members that the purpose of the working group should be to review the investments to ensure that they were managed correctly now and in the future.
The Chairman asked for expressions of interest in the investments working group and it was agreed that the members would be: The Chairman, The Mayor, Councillor Apel and the Deputy Town Clerk.
The Chairman thanked the Deputy Town Clerk for her ongoing hard work in ensuring that the City Council’s finances were managed properly.
At this point the Mayor introduced Mr Tim Reedman, an investment adviser from St James’s Palace Wealth Management who had been invited along to help assess the City Council’s investment position.
Mr Reedman outlined his background and experience to the Committee and informed Members that he would be happy to apply his experience to the City Council’s investments by means of advice on the current situation, in a non-professional capacity. He further informed the Committee that he would be happy to attend the working group in an advisory capacity.
67. DRAFT INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN
The Deputy Town Clerk introduced the draft Infrastructure Plan that had previously been circulated to Councillors.
Members were advised that, as part of the regular review, the City Council’s schemes would need to be reviewed and revised as appropriate. One of the new inclusions would be the agreed project from the Chichester Canal Trust for funding for repairs to the canal bank in the amount of £10,000.
The Deputy Town Clerk highlighted the inclusion of the Speed Indicator Device project and reminded Councillors that as this project was also on the agenda, they might wish to consider where the funding would come from.
The Chairman asked Councillors to submit any further suggestions for changes to the Plan to the Deputy Town Clerk before the closing date for the review of 16 November 2020.
The Mayor suggested to Members that the projects on the current Plan were a little vague. He further suggested that once more concrete ideas and plans started to emerge from the Neighbourhood Plan process, it would be appropriate to revise the projects in the Infrastructure Plan to better reflect the needs identified in the Neighbourhood Plan.
The Chairman reminded Members that one of the projects on the Plan was the resurfacing of the pedestrianised areas in the City centre where the existing surfaces had continued to deteriorate. The Mayor advised the Committee that West Sussex County Council had indicated that the City Council may be able to lead the pavement project which had been delayed for over two years.
68. RISK MANAGEMENT SCHEDULE
The Deputy Town Clerk advised the Committee that one of the members of her team had now updated the entire Risk Management Schedule as part of the regular review process.
Members were reminded that they would be welcome to review the whole Schedule if they wished to but as it stood at 37 pages, only the action plan had been included with the agenda.
Members were informed that the action plan was longer than usual due to additional risks that had been added that were relevant to the ongoing Covid19 pandemic and the accompanying rules and regulations.
The Deputy Town Clerk further informed Members that “the majority of the risk is out of our control; [and that] even with the measures we are taking there is still a level of risk involved”.
The Committee expressed thanks to Kim’s team for the work being undertaken.
69. TREE PLANTING – MATCH FUNDING COMMUNITY RAISED FUNDS
The Chairman advised the Committee that Councillor Sharp had been asked to provide further information to Members for this item. In Councillor Sharp’s absence, the Chairman proposed, and it was agreed, that the item be deferred to the next meeting on 26 November 2020.
70. CONSULTATION BY CHICHESTER DISTRICT COUNCIL ABOUT ROTARY CLUB’S CHRISTMAS TREE AT THE MARKET CROSS
The Mayor declared a personal interest as a member of the Rotary Club.
The Town Clerk reminded Councillors about an email he had sent to them on this subject on the 17 October 2020. He further reminded Councillors that, towards the end of his email, he had emphasised that it was important that the spirit of Christmas be observed but that, like Remembrance Sunday, it could not be observed in the same way as previous years.
The Town Clerk advised the Committee that he felt that the Rotary Clubs should submit a Covid19 action plan and suitable risk assessment to Chichester District Council in respect of the Christmas tree, as well as obtaining formal sign off from West Sussex County Council as the highway authority; before any consideration of permitting the tree to be erected were given. He informed the Committee that the historical assumption of consent could no longer continue due to the changes necessitated by the Covid19 pandemic.
The Mayor responded by informing the Committee that Rotary had in place their own risk assessments and, despite the difficult year, they were keen to ensure that the city centre Christmas tree went ahead.
Members were also informed by the Mayor that the events being planned at the time were intended to be small scale to avoid the promotion of large crowds gathering.
The Mayor reported that, due to the pandemic and lockdowns, Rotary had found their usual fundraising to be very difficult. He further reported that Rotary had been experiencing difficulty sourcing a suitable tree due to lack of supplies from local organisations.
The Mayor then proposed that the City Council consider giving a grant of £500 to Rotary in support of the installation of the city centre Christmas tree.
The Chairman asked whether this was a subject that could be debated as it had not appeared on the agenda. The Town Clerk confirmed that this was correct.
The Town Clerk suggested to the Committee that, after the meeting, he would send an email to Members outlining the case and, if a majority agreed then the Officers could be authorised to make the payment to Rotary. The Chairman agreed with this approach.
The Mayor apologised for any confusion caused as he had thought the subject could be included in the agenda item under discussion.
Post meeting note: The Chairman reflected on this matter and, subsequently, in order to provide a clear audit trail for the grant application, arrangements were made for a Special Meeting of the Finance Committee on 2 November 2020
71. PURCHASE OF A CITY COUNCIL SPEED INDICATOR DEVICE FOR COMMUNITY USE
The Town Clerk reminded Members that this decision had been passed to the Finance Committee from the Community Affairs (Grants) meeting that had been held on 5 October 2020.
He further reminded Members that the project had been initiated by the Parklands Residents Association and that their intention would be to purchase two Speed Indicator Devices (SIDs) with the City Council funded device being made available for use within the Parish of Chichester.
The Chairman asked for clarification about the number of SIDs the City Council was being asked to purchase and whether the management of bookings and installation would also be the responsibility of City Council Officers.
The Town Clerk informed Members that he thought that the Parklands Residents Association were seeking funding through SpaceHive for one SID and the City Council were being asked to fund a second device. However, he also informed the Committee that this was to be fully confirmed and that, even if only one device were purchased, this would be an important step forwards.
The Town Clerk went on to suggest a methodology which included volunteers in areas that the SIDs were requested being trained to use the devices themselves. These volunteers would then be included on the City Council’s insurance policy and would be responsible for the device while it was in situ. The devices would be installed and managed in accordance with the rules and guidelines set down by West Sussex County Council and the Police.
The Mayor, Councillor Apel and Deputy Town Clerk all agreed that the City Council had been asked to fund one SID and that the device would be made available as a city wide resource.
The Mayor highlighted some areas of the city that would welcome access to a SID, including residents in Lavant Road, St Pancras and The Hornet. Councillor K Hughes agreed with the Mayor and reminded the Committee that he had already been in active discussion with residents around The Hornet and St Pancras about the issue of speeding along those roads.
Further to a question from Councillor K Hughes, the Town Clerk clarified that the positioning and duration of the SID installations would have to be agreed with West Sussex County Council and the Police. He advised Councillors that guidelines would be drawn up with the working partners to ensure that SID installation and usage was consistent across the city. The Mayor suggested that to assist with this, the management of the device could fall under the Community Affairs Committee who would discuss and decide the rules for using the SIDs in Chichester.
It was RESOLVED that Chichester City Council would purchase one Speed Indicator Device at a cost of £5,454 to be funded from the Public Realm budget; and that it would be made available across the City with rules and guidelines to be agreed with the relevant partners.
72. ITEMS TO BE INCLUDED ON THE NEXT AGENDA
- Tree planting – match funding community raised funds
The Deputy Town Clerk suggested delaying the final budget discussion until December. She agreed to review the meeting calendar and advise Members accordingly.
73. PUBLIC BODIES (ADMISSION TO MEETINGS) ACT 1960
RESOLVED that, in the view of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted, the public (including the Press) be excluded from the meeting for agenda items 15 and 16 because of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted, namely staffing matters.
74. NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN – CHANGES TO STAFFING AND BUDGET
The Town Clerk introduced his report and suggestions for the future of the staffing and funding of the Neighbourhood Plan to the Committee.
Members were advised that the overriding reasons for the report were ones of staff welfare and workload.
The Committee was asked to note the proposals and costings which included an increased role for the existing Neighbourhood Plan consultant at Feria Urbanism.
The Town Clerk gave Members examples of the headline costs that had been incurred by other Parish Councils while developing their Neighbourhood Plans.
The Mayor reiterated the points that had been made by the Chairman and the Town Clerk and reminded the Committee of the benefits, including financial, of having a Neighbourhood Plan in place.
The Chairman asked for clarity on the members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and their interest in Chichester. The Mayor advised the Committee that this issue had been discussed at the Planning and Conservation Committee. He also gave a little more background information in support of the Steering Group members.
In response to a question from Councillor Apel, the Town Clerk clarified the decision to employ Feria Urbanism which had been based on word of word of mouth from peer Parishes and also on the company’s specialism in producing Neighbourhood Plans.
The Chairman gave her thanks for the tremendous work that had been undertaken by the Planning Adviser on the Neighbourhood Plan.
75. FINANCE TEAM UPDATES
The Deputy Town Clerk updated the Committee about the members of her team and the potential challenges that could arise on the basis of her update.
The Chairman asked that her best wishes be passed on as appropriate.
The meeting closed at 3.44pm
DATE OF THE NEXT ORDINARY MEETING: THURSDAY 26 NOVEMBER 2020 AT 2PM
PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF DAY