Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held on Monday, 20th July 2020 at 7.00 p.m. outside at Duchy Manor, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW
Present: Cllrs. C. Hazzard (Chairman), A. Colman, R. Coward, R. Hill, G. Ings, G. Jeans, J. Jordan, A. Mead, R. Sims, Mrs. K. Symonds & Mrs. L. Traves
The Chairman convened the meeting, welcoming everyone present and read out the consent notice for names of members of the public to be recorded in The Minutes.
There were no members of the public present. The Chairman took the opportunity to thank Cllrs. Mitchell and Cllr. Jordan for their help with the delegation consultation. He also wanted to thank the Clerk for all the work that had been carried out in the last few months in not only keeping council services running as much as possible but in also overseeing and helping to coordinate the community support group that had been so ably managed by Mr. Richard Jefferies. He added that the Town Council had acted quickly to provide a community support network that had proved to be extremely successful and effective with a large number of volunteers signing up to help get shopping, collect prescriptions, take dogs out for walks etc. Mr. Richard Jefferies had managed this support group very well and had put in a tremendous amount of work. He added that the Clerk had put in a large number of extra hours and had worked ‘her socks off’ not only keeping the Town Council running, managing the staff, complying with new legislation, meeting deadlines for the accounts and also complying with all government guidelines and writing up risk assessments to reopen facilities. He also pointed out that he, Cllr. Mitchell and Cllr. Jeans had not been readily available to give the Clerk the support she needed during much of this time. The Chairman pointed out that there was a lot of admin and practical work involved in doing the risk assessments to re-open facilities and provide signage and hand sanitiser and other necessary requirements. The Chairman also praised the grounds staff for continuing to work – albeit in a shift pattern around lockdown but now back to full staff capacity with social distancing measures in place.
There were no members of the public present, but Mrs. Traves asked if some report could be made about hedges along Castle Hill Lane that were growing out into the highway.
Mr. Jordan said that it was a pleasure to hear the Town Clock chiming again after it has been out of action for a few months.
Mr. Mead asked about the reopening of the public toilets and the Clerk explained that this would be discussed during the meeting.
Apologies for absence received & accepted from Cllrs. P. Coward, E. Mitchell, B. Norris & R. Pester.
- To receive declarations of interest from members and to consider requests for new DPI dispensations.
Members are invited to declare disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests in items on the agenda as required by the Mere Town Council Code of Conduct for Members and by the Localism Act 2011.
- R. Coward declared a personal interest in planning application 20/04832/FUL
- G. Ings declared a pecuniary interest in Minute No. 132 a) [Recipient]
- a) Applications: (All applications can be viewed on Wiltshire Council’s website http://planning.wiltshire.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/ApplicationSearch.aspx – and type in the relevant application number)
Application Ref: 20/04264/FUL
Application for: Full Planning
Proposal: Insertion of dormer window to the rear of the property.
At: The Rondel, Castle Hill Lane, Mere. BA12 6JB
RESOLVED that the above application is recommended for approval on proposal made by Cllr. John Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote.
Application Ref: 20/04298/TCA
Application for: Work to Trees in a Cons Area
Proposal: T1 – Ash tree – fell
T2 – Sycamore tree – 15% crown thin & crown lift by 2m
At: Highfields, Castle Hill Lane, Mere. BA12 6JB
It was reported that the above application had already been approved by the Local Planning Authority
Application Ref: 20/04832/FUL
Application for|: Full Planning
Proposal: Erection of portal frame barn for storage of agricultural and forestry equipment.
At: Hazelwood House, Shaftesbury Road Northeast to Limpers Hill, Limpers Hill, Mere. BA12 6BD
RESOLVED that the above application is recommended for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Sims and carried with a majority vote in favour. Cllr. R. Coward, having declared a personal interest in the above application, abstained from voting.
Application Ref: 20/04854/FUL
Application for: Full Planning
Proposal: Erection of polytunnel for animal housing
At: Downs View Farm, Limpers Hill, Mere. BA12 6BD
RESOLVED that the above application is recommended for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Sims, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote.
Application Ref: 20/05163/VAR
Application for: Variation of Condition
Proposal: Variation of condition 2 of planning permission 20/00444/FUL to alter the external materials for the approved extension and repositioning of the
At: Spree, Rook Street, Mere. BA12 6FD
RESOLVED that the above application is recommended for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Mead and carried with a unanimous vote.
Application Ref: 20/04314/LBC
Application for: Listed Building Consent
Proposal: Replace 7 modern windows with new windows, install 5 new windows; minor internal works; new rainwater goods.
At: Longmead, Barrow Street, Mere. BA12 6AB
RESOLVED that the above application is recommended for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Traves, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds and carried with a unanimous vote.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) Highways Act 1980 – Section 116 Application – Proposed stopping up of highway adjacent to 2 New Cottages, Shaftesbury Road, Mere.
RESOLVED that the above application be recommended for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Mead, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries,
- a) Repair works to windows of South Chapel – the Chairman reported that during June, the delegated decision had been to instruct the contractors to repair/replace the windows that were subject to the insurance claim on a replacement basis – as quoted and approved by the Council’s insurance company. It had also been agreed to ask the contractors to repair/replace other windows in the building that were damaged, broken or missing but not subject to the insurance claim e.g. the large first floor window on the eastern gable end (subject to these not being too overpriced) so that the building can be brought back into use for some purpose. The Chairman and Clerk had met with the contractors and it had been concluded that the extra cost that would need to be incurred directly by the Town Council was approximately £2,000. It had therefore been agreed to ask the contractors to proceed with all the work.
- b) Report on Covid-19 Risk Assessments and measures necessary for reopening of facilities – the Clerk reported the following:
Our COVID-19 Risk Assessments are ongoing but so far we have carried out Risk Assessments for:
The workplace – our staff – including grounds staff, office staff, street orderly and cleaner
Re-opening of Public Toilets
Re-opening of MUGA
Re-opening of Skate Park
Re-opening of Tennis Courts
Re-opening of Bowls
Re-opening of Andy Young Pavilion
Re-opening of Children’s Play Areas
The use of the School Foyer for any potential meetings:
The re-opening of the Children’s Play Areas was the most challenging because the government guidelines were fairly prescriptive and were met with widespread concern by my colleagues up and down the country. Following representation by NALC and Society of Local Council Clerks and the Association of Play Institute (API) we shared specific issues and more general concerns about the wording of the document which implied adherence to the guidelines was mandatory. This included the requirement to clean play equipment frequently, take away certain items of equipment, prescribe a one way system, monitor the use of the play areas to ensure the maximum number of users is not exceeded and/or apply a booking system. Advice from NALC, SLCC and API suggested that a Risk Assessment was an absolute requirement and must consider the practicalities of operating the play facilities and that the outputs and conclusions of the Risk Assessment remained the responsibility of the operator, the guidance was not mandatory and is for each operator to make their own judgements on what is practical to implement whilst keeping the risk to a minimum. I have taken the approach that good signage is key and that parents must be made aware of the potential dangers and the need to take responsibility. With these measures in place, we have therefore reopened all the play areas.
The Andy Young Pavilion will be available for use from the end of this week subject to very strict conditions. We have made some modifications, installed hand sanitiser stations, barriers and signage. The pavilion has just been decorated and has just had a deep clean. Use will be limited to 14 people.
As reported during the public session, my Risk Assessment has resulted in us not being able to reopen the ladies block or the gents block of toilets because they both contain narrow corridors and also because our Wallgate hand washing facilities will not allow 20 second washing. However, we have re-opened the single disabled toilet for all members of the public to use. The disabled locking mechanism has been removed and the toilet can now be bolted from the inside with social distancing queueing outside if needed. The toilets are opened at 8 am and closed again at 4.00 pm. They are cleaned twice daily – at around 10 am and 2 pm. Users are requested to follow the COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing, hand-washing etc.
In accordance with Government Guidelines, we have not yet reopened the community changing rooms.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to approve payments set out in payment schedules on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a majority vote. Cllr. Ings, having declared a pecuniary interest, left the meeting for this agenda item and took no part in discussion or voting.
b) S. 137 Expenditure – RESOLVED: That the Council in accordance with its powers under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972, should incur the following expenditure which, in the opinion of the Council, is in the interests of the area of its inhabitants and will benefit them in a manner commensurate with expenditure:- Proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Mead and carried with a unanimous vote. (These S.137 payments were previously recommended at the Annual Budget meeting).
|To support Leisure Credit Scheme
|Mere & District Linkscheme
|St. Johns Ambulance
*c) To approve End of Year Budget/Expenditure Report for 2019/20 – RESOLVED that the Budget/Expenditure report for the financial year ending 31.3.20 be approved on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. R. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote.
*d) Annual Governance and Accountability Return 2019-2
- To receive and note the Annual Internal Audit Report – the Clerk informed members that on 16th July, Mrs. Mary White had carried out an independent examination of the Town Council’s accounting records, its compliance with relevant procedures and its risk assessments and internal control procedures. Mrs. White had agreed that, in all significant respects, the control objectives were being achieved throughout the financial year to a standard adequate to meet the needs of the council and had completed section 4 of the Annual Return, answered ‘yes’ or ‘Not Covered’ to all questions & had signed the Annual Internal Audit Report in the Annual Return accordingly. Mrs. White had written a letter: ’On 16th July, I carried out an internal audit of the Town Council’s Financial Statements for the year ending 31st March 2020. I am of the opinion that proper accounting records have been maintained by the Council, financial statements have been properly prepared and there were no issues of concern. For the purposes of this audit the Town Clerk, Lindsey Wood, ensured that everything necessary was to hand and in good order and provided every assistance during our meeting.’ The Clerk confirmed that Mrs. White had responded ‘Not Covered’ to the statement relating to Petty Cash payments as the Council operates a reimbursement system rather than a petty cash float system. However, the Clerk confirmed that all petty cash reimbursements had been supported by receipts and VAT appropriately accounted for. Members expressed their gratitude to Mary White for carrying out the Internal Audit and asked for their thanks to be recorded in the Minutes.
- To approve the Annual Governance Statement (Section 1) – Points 1 – 9 of the Annual Governance statement 2019/20 (Section 1 of the Annual Governance & Accountability Return) were read out to members and members answered ‘yes’ to each of the statements. The Annual Governance Statement was signed by the Clerk and by the Chairman in the presence of the Town Council.
- To approve the Accounting Statements (Section 2) – members approved the accounts and supporting statements which included the bank reconciliation, identification of variances requiring explanation, reconciliation between boxes 7 & 8 and analysis of earmarked reserves which had been previously distributed to them with their agenda papers. From the information provided therein, the Accounting Statements 1-11 (Section 2 of the Annual Return) were completed and approved by the Town Council. Confirmation of approval of the Account Statements was signed by the Clerk and by the Chairman in the presence of the Town Council.
- To set the commencement date for the exercise of public rights – The Clerk confirmed that, as required by The Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015 the Town Council must now publish the unaudited Annual Governance & Accountability Return and the Notice for the Commencement of the Period for the Exercise of Public Rights. Publication is on the parish website: www.merewilts.org
- To note other information to be sent to the External Auditor and required by External Auditor as part of Intermediate Review 2019/20 – The Clerk informed members that Mere Town Council had been selected by our external auditors, for intermediate review for the 2019/20 reporting year as part of the required 5% sample of those who would otherwise be subject to a basic review. This means that the Town Council will be required to submit extra information to the external auditors including copies of minutes, agenda papers and any related reports from 2019/20 to support the setting of the budget for the subsequent financial year
134. General Items & Consultations
*a) New Model Code of Conduct – Consultation – the Clerk had supplied members with a link to information about the consultation on the new Model Code of Conduct and suggest that members should submit individual comments rather than a collective ‘Council’ comment.
135. Future meetings and agenda items – the Chairman said that the Council does not usually meet in August and that therefore the next meeting would be held in September and whether it would be a virtual or face-to-face meeting would depend on government guidance nearer the time.
Requested agenda items:
- Lighting for Andy Young Pavilion – Cllr. Mead
- Water refill station – Cllr. Jordan
Note: Members are reminded that the Town Council has a general duty to consider the following matters in the exercise of any of its functions: Equal Opportunities (race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status and any disability), Crime and Disorder, Health and Safety and Human Rights.
*Further information on these items enclosed/attached
MERE PEACE MEMORIAL SPORTS AND RECREATION GROUND
Registered Charity No. 1093497
For Trustees to approve:
- Mere Youth Development Centre – remedial work required following Fixed Wire Testing report – the Clerk reported that, owing to some concerns, it had been necessary to request a Fixed Wire Testing report for the Youth Club building. This had now been carried out and the report had raised a number of remedial actions which needed to take place, some of which were fairly urgent. Jeans Electricals had provided a quotation of £950 + VAT for the work & the Clerk wanted to know if Trustees were happy to proceed on this basis or whether they wanted to request further quotations. RESOLVED to request that Jeans Electricals carry out the work as quoted on the basis that they have completed the Fixed Wire Testing Report and that some of the remedial action tasks could carry a risk factor if not completed as soon as possible. Proposal made by Trustee Cllr. R. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote.
2. To approve the End of Year Summary income/expenditure report (within Budget/Expenditure report) and to approve the payment to Mere Town Council for maintenance charges for 2019/20 of £11,954.34. Trustees RESOLVED to approve the End of Year Summary income/expenditure report and the payment of £11,954.34 to Mere Town Council for maintenance charges for 2019/20 on proposal made by Cllr. Hazzard, seconded by Cllr. Hill and carried with a unanimous vote.