Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of the Annual Budget Meeting held on Wednesday, 22nd November 2023 at 7.00 p.m. at The Andy Young Pavilion, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW.
Present: Councillors: John Jordan (Chairman), Sandra Catley, Aubrey Colman, Philip Coward, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, George Jeans (from 7.50 pm)
Cllr. Glen Ings Chaired the Meeting
Public Session – No members of public present
Apologies for absence – None received
Declarations of Interest
- Hazzard declared an interest in Floral Enhancements & Rental & Town Council workshop compound.
DRAFT FIGURES ATTACHED:
The Clerk confirmed that the proposed changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTR) currently under consultation would have an impact on the way our Tax Base is calculated. I have received the following information from Wiltshire Council:
The Provisional Tax Base for Mere with no changes to the CTR is 1259.36
The Provisional Tax Base for Mere if all proposed changes are made to the CTR scheme is 1249.70 (worst case scenario)
The average of these two Tax Base figures is 1254.53
Our Tax Base last year was 1252.44 and our precept was £186,685.78. Precept ÷ Tax Base = Town Council part of Council Tax on Band D property for the year.
Using the provisional figures for next year, provided by Wiltshire Council, if we had the same precept as last year, it would make a difference of -0.82p or +0.32p. Using the average would make a difference of -0.25p.
On the draft figures I have prepared for you, as attached, the precept would be £217,450.95 which would be an increase of 16.53% using the average Tax Base.
A precept of £192,200 would equate to a 3% increase
A precept of £205,260 would equate to a 10% increase
PUBLICATION – Please note that we will be required to provide a breakdown of expected expenditure and income to Wiltshire Council for them to publish as our precept is likely to be over £140,000
LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE SETTLEMENT – I have not heard any further news about plans to extend council tax referendums to local councils in line with the three-year deal that was announced in January 2018. I expect the government has had other things to deal with! But it may be worth bearing in mind that we could find ourselves in a situation whereby any precept increase will be capped in the future.
FYI – as a reminder:
SECTION 106 FUNDING – The S.106 agreement for the Woodlands Road Development states that the following sums will be provided:
- £48,264.00 of the Off Site Facilities contribution (Index Linked from date agreement signed on 19.3.2015) prior to the Occupation of the 20th Dwelling on Phase 1 of the Development
- £61,352.00 of the Off Site Facilities Contribution (Index Linked from date agreement signed on 19.3.2015) prior to the occupation of the 20th dwelling on the Phase 2 Development
- £68,501.00 of Open Space Contribution (Index Linked from date agreement signed on 19.3.15) prior to the occupation of 20th dwelling on the Phase 1 Development
- £87,077.00 of Open Space Contribution (Index Linked from date agreement signed on 19.3.15) prior to the occupation of 20th dwelling on the Phase 2 Development
Off Site Facilities Contribution means a financial contribution towards the provision of youth and adult open space & leisure facilities in the area to serve the development
Open Space Contribution means a financial contribution towards the provision, maintenance and improvement of Open Space in the parish of Mere (Open Space means public open space, including play areas and amenity land in the parish of Mere.
The money has to be spent within 10 y ears of receipt. After the expiry of a period of 10 years any contribution which remains unexpended for the purpose for which it was paid to the Council shall, unless committed by a binding contract between the Council and a third party, be repaid to the paying party upon request.
NOTES ON DRAFT BUDGET SPREADSHEET
Advertising – no comments
Audit Costs –This heading covers both internal audit fee and external audit fee.
Last year’s internal audit fee was £535 and this years’ will be £560.
Last year’s external audit fee was £800 but this year we paid £600. Scales of fees for Town & Parish Councils external audit fees are based on bands of annual income or expenditure, whichever is the higher. There are also additional fees if the Annual Returns, supporting information and explanations are not submitted fully and accurately within the required timescales and the external auditors may also apply extra fees where they have to consider objections to the accounts from local electors or exercise special powers in relation to the review or undertake any special investigations. As we received the second phase of S.106 funds during this financial year, I would expect our External Audit fee to be £1050
I suggest we keep no reserves and budget £1500 again for 24/25.
Bank charges – Although the Council does not pay bank charges at the present time, this was only due to successful intervention by Cllr. Jeans and could not be guaranteed to last forever. The Clerk was suggesting that the Council should retain reserves of £285 for the remainder of this year and budget £285 for next year. It was agreed to amend this to keep only £100 in reserve for this year and make no budget for next year.
Election Costs – Wilts Council will be seeking to recover T & P elections costs for the 2025 main elections. The suggested fee given by Wiltshire Council in January 2021 for a medium sized parish/town council was between £7938 & £8985. This time last year we had built up reserves of £4000 but these were reduced to only £1000 at the 2022 budget meeting. We currently now have reserves of £2700 and in order to meet an estimated fee of £8500 we would need to budget £2900 in each of the next 2 years. (Let’s hope we don’t have a by-election in the meantime.) It was agreed to retain reserves of £2700 but budget only £900 in the knowledge that we will need to budget a further £5400 next year I order to meet the 2025 election costs.
Hire of Rooms – no comment
Insurance – In 2022 we entered into a 3-year undertaking to stay with Came & Co. Therefore, we would need to remain with them until June 2025. The other main local council insurer would not provide us with a quotation due to our claim history. The insurance renewal was £4323.97 this year & it should remain the same unless we add any services/facilities. I have added a little extra to allow for an increased premium for children’s centre. Suggest budget of £4700
Legal Services – We have been dealing with leases for public toilets, Salisbury street car park + Castle Street Car Park & the licence agreement with Econetiq. Hampshire CC quoted £1000 for each lease + disbursements (the public toilet lease will incur charges to register with Land Registry and I am aware that there has already been an extra £300 fee for reviewing the “supposed” lease from Econetiq! I doubt that Hampshire CC thought that the leases would drag on so long when they originally quoted and so I would expect there to be additional costs incurred. I am guessing that we have probably spent £4500 so far. We will have the lease for Office and old Children’s Centre + renewal of lease for Mere Croquet Club + renewal of lease for Railway Modellers Club (the legal fees for the Youth Club lease renewal have been included elsewhere in this report). We have £5155 in reserve of which I estimate £4500 has been spent. I therefore suggest that we budget a further £2345 which will allow us to carry out the next 3 leases at £1000 per lease.
Office equipment/services/stationery – This heading covers things like printer cartridges, all stationery, servicing computers and software updates, internet security and any small items of office equipment. We have overspent this year already but the expenditure did include the directional signs costing £242. I suggest we revise reserves to £300 and budget a further £1000.
Petty Cash – no comment
Office rentals/rates – We pay £50 a year in rent but we are responsible for rates. Last year’s rates cost £1493.26. Suggest budget remain £1600
Subscriptions – our present subscriptions are:
South West Councils – £485
WALC – £879.45
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust- £36.00
CPRE – £36.00
SLCC – £279 (2022)
Still to pay this year is SLCC – the invoice has just come in at £288
Telephone/broadband expenses – Our current provider is Mainstream Digital:
Whilst we don’t have to upgrade yet, their account manager, Nick, says that BT are already starting to disconnect landlines in the region e.g. in Salisbury, and trying to encourage customers to make the changeover sooner.
He says he has checked the current broadband availability to the office for the proposed new connection and it will deliver 4x faster download and 20x faster upload than we now have. As I understand it, connecting to any of the new fibre installations in Mere would be more expensive than Mainstream’s proposal, and wouldn’t provide any benefit which we couldn’t get from Mainstream.
This is summary of a recent conversation and their recommendation:
“Thanks for your time this afternoon, it was good to take the time to gain a better understanding of what exists and your needs.
As discussed Openreach are rolling out a project to remove all Analogue lines from circulation in preference to having VoIP Lines. (Voice over the internet) so we have been proactively contacting our customers to explain how this will affect them.
This will affect Mere Town Council because your Main telephone number is Analogue and your broadband is the basis ADSL Version.
- £12.80 Analogue line on 01747-860701
- £11.14 ADSL Broadband (Up to 20mb download and up to 1mb upload)
- £9.00 Average call charges
- £32.84 TOTAL CURRENT MONTHLY COSTS
You said you are happy with the Cordless Base station and three handsets that you currently use, so I would suggest we do the following:
- Provide SOGEA Fibre Broadband service (Up to 80mb download and up to 20mb upload)
- Reuse your Draytec 2760n Router
- Provide 1 x Hosted seat/ extension on 01747-860701
- Provide Analogue terminal adaptor which will plug into a spare port on the router and then your base station (cordless) will plug into the adaptor.
- All calls to UK Landlines and calls to Mobiles free of charge
New rentals will be:
- £48.22 per month based on a 5-year term OR
- £50.76 per month based on a 3-year term
Once ready to make the change, please allow 4 x weeks from receipt of the signed contract and signed number porting form.
This solution will fully future proof your telephony, against the planned changes and will increase your internet download speeds by 4 fold and your upload speeds by 20 fold!!”
We have been very happy with the customer service we get from Mainstream Digital and they seem to be very reasonable when comparing them to other providers. Therefore suggest we sign contract on a 5-year term. Revise reserves to £240 for remainder of this year and anticipate we can start new contract for April 2024
IT Support – We don’t really have any IT support although we do go to IT Ambulance in Zeals on an ad-hoc basis. Although this fulfils a need, it doesn’t provide us with a technical audit that would assess security, deal with GDPR issues and provide business continuity solutions in the event of disaster. I have been out to one company that deals with other local authorities for a quotation and that has come in an £184 p.m. for the three machines. I have attached their quotation It was felt that this quotation was a little too expensive and that investigations should continue to find alternative quotations and/or support packages.
Scribe Accounting Software – you will recall that our internal auditor has recommended that we should change over to a sector specific accounting software. At the present time I use a version of Microsoft Money which I have adapted for the Town Council’s needs. However, it is unlikely that my successor would be able to use this. There are two or three main sector specific accountancy software companies but Scribe does seem to provide the most support/training. I have attached their quotation. It was agreed to subscribe to the Scribe Accounting Software as quoted.
Staff & Councillor training :
There are shortfalls in our training requirements. I have identified the following list and the cost of all courses would be at least £4575. However, it would not be feasible or viable to carry out all training in one year so priorities need to be identified – I have identified priorities as Chainsaw, Weed Spraying, Play Equipment Inspection & NRSWA + First Aid at Work for Paul. We are currently looking into the Forestry and Arboricultural Training Fund to see if there might be grant funding to help with some of the relevant courses. Also, it has occurred to me that it might be possible to utilise the Community resilience Group SSEN funding for the NRSWA training courses, as they would enable our staff to work on the highway (clearing drains during floods etc). Therefore, suggest we retain reserves of £2027 but make no further budget.
Training requirements (wish list) for grounds staff: NB the prices were obtained in 2021
- Simon – RPII (for those responsible for routine inspections of play areas) – £135 (completed)
- Simon – Legionella (completed)
- Simon – First Aid at Work course – (completed 2020)
- Simon – Pest control (completed 2020)
- Paul & Sam – Brushcutters & Strimmers (completed 2023)
- Simon & Paul – Basic Tree Inspection
- Simon & Paul Simon + Paul – IPAF (working from platform (cherry picker) course
- Sim & Paul– Ride on mowers – £225 + VAT per person
- Paul – First Aid at Work course @ £90
- Simon & Paul – NRSWA (Signing, Lighting & Guarding) @ £175
- Simon & Paul– NRSWA (Operatives Course) @ £695
- Simon – Chainsaw cross cutting and felling 380mm diameter £744
- Paul – Weed spraying (Pesticide – Hand held applications) – £235
- Training requirements (wish list) for admin staff:
- Clerk – conferences, seminars as and when available
- Other admin – CILCA
Travel Expenses – No comment
Data Protection Registration – No comment
Project Management Admin – No comment
Outsourcing – HR & Payroll, GDPR + Health & Safety – additional information to be provided
The Clerk confirmed that she was currently meeting with four or five different companies for them to provide quotations for the Health & Safety outsourcing at the present time and so the figure budgeted was really a guess.
DUCHY MANOR (Old Children’s Centre)
Rentals/Rates – indication from John Price in 2022 (before he retired) was that the rental would be low, say £100 but that the Town Council would be responsible for all other outgoings i.e., rates. Making a comparison on rates/size of office, I calculate this to be somewhere in the region of £5-6k (apparently toilets and corridors do not count towards rateable values). We have £2500 in reserve so I suggest we budget a further £3500. Agreed to remove budget allocation on the basis that we are not likely to have a lease in the foreseeable future.
Heating/Utilities – Currently the Children’s centre is heated by oil. Don’t know anything about water and electricity. We have £1000 in reserve. Suggest we retain reserves & budget a further £500 and also look into energy solutions for whole of this part of building. Agreed to remove budget allocation for heating & utilities on the basis that we are not likely to have a lease in the foreseeable future.
Repairs/Maintenance – I’m guessing that Wiltshire Council would still be responsible for the exterior maintenance although I am worried that the remainder of the building still has the Crittall windows and flat roof has not received any attention in years. I would also suggest that members take a look at the old offices – not in a very good state of repair. Suggest we retain £1500 and budget a further £1000.
Materials & repairs – Work on the Wellhead car park was carried out in 2019/20 and some of the residents made a contribution towards this work. Town Council is budgeting funds to build reserves so that this work can be caried out again in the future. Also, we have identified need for a further water trough at Southbrook – the supply can be piped from the other trough above ground level. Grounds staff say that this would involve 120m of pipework + fittings + trough + time. Since this time, Wessex Internet have agreed to put the pipework in their ducting which I think they plan to do in the spring. Reserves are £1000. Suggest we reduce reserves to £750 and make no budget.
NB – Could members please go out to Southbrook allotments after heavy rainfall periods – I went out there during Lockdown 2 and was astonished that 7 allotments were completely underwater (8 – 9 inches) – it looked like a paddy field. Is drainage an option?
Pest Control – no comment
Rentals – we agreed a £20 rental increase with the Duchy of Cornwall. Our annual rental will be £610
Water rates – water is turned off during the winter and used during spring/summer months only. Usage and therefore cost is largely dependent on weather conditions. The cost of water at Jack Paul Close allotments (which is the smallest allotment site) is nearly 3 times the amount of water at Wellhead allotments. Would suggest the reason or this is that it has a standpipe and not a trough. Should we change to trough in order to encourage allotment holders to use less water? It was agreed that we should change the water source to a water trough for the Jack Paul Close allotment site.
Suggest we reduce reserves to £115 and budget £650 again for next year.
ANDY YOUNG PAVILION
Equipment & Furniture – We reduced our reserves drastically last year. Purchased a small new fridge this year but would suggest that there might be a need to have new tables/chairs and replenish kitchen equipment. Suggest we retain reserves of £230 and budget £270 to build up for these replacements.
Fencing & Security –Not aware for any immediate fencing and security issues at the moment – unless councillors can come up with an idea to stop youngsters from climbing up the roofs!!!! Suggest we retain reserves at £440 & make no budget.
Footpaths & Car Park – Due to the new car park, lighting etc, we removed all reserves last year. However, I did suggest that we would need to add funds for future maintenance at some point in the future though. Suggest we add £500. Agreed no budget for any maintenance at the present time.
Gas – We have £1150 in reserve. Suggest we reduce reserves to £500 and budget a further £500 for next year.
Maintenance/Repairs – The building was built in 2005 and is now 18 years old and we need to look after it or it will start to deteriorate. We cleaned off exterior plastic and carried out some roof repairs last year and Sam did a lot of this work ‘in house’. We also have a problem with the sewage pump at the moment and this is in the process of being investigated. Suggest we retain reserves of £888 & budget a further £1000.
Cleaning Equipment/Materials – No comment
Water & Sewerage – No comment
Consumables – No comment
Fire Alarm Maintenance – We have a contract with Wessex Fire & Security
BAND HUT – The Town Council has agreed to build up reserves so that when the roof needs replacing, we have enough money to do the work. However, we reduced the reserves from £3000 to £750 last year. Suggest we retain reserves of £750 and budget a further £750.
We still need to action getting an asbestos register for the building (as approved last year). Do we not need to have an asbestos register for Youth Club, Clock Tower etc?
BOWLING GREEN – No budget allocation. Green is leased to Bowls Club.
We did give them a donation of £400 this year but that is allocated under “donations”.
I am aware that at the last budget meeting the Chairman said he felt that the reserves for buildings should be transferrable from one building to the other and our reserves for buildings were cut by a third last year. I do, however, have some concerns that the asset value of our buildings is considerable at £1.2m and the current level of reserves + budget of £17 – 18k is not sufficient money for us to deal with any kind of catastrophe with our buildings whilst also enabling us to continue with our current service and function level.
There was a long discussion relating to the buildings, in particular the Chapels and the Clock Tower regarding the water leaks and roof repairs. It was agreed that these should be investigated further in the near future.
Chapels – Chapels are in a state of dilapidation/structural movement is a possible issue. We got the broken windows to the south chapel repaired in 2019/20 and they are all looking extremely smart – some of this expense was covered by insurance claim and some by Town Council. Question – do we want to put bars on the inside of the large window at the front and the one at the rear (like we have on the side windows). Although we no longer keep a large array of tools in the chapel, we do have some. The grounds staff have suggested that the doors might need replacing/refurbishing for both chapels and Simon has recently pointed out to me that there are holes in the roof of the north chapel (ridge tile missing & other tiles need replacing) The Committee reduced reserves by £2000 last year so I suggest we retain reserves of £1500 and budget a further £1000 and investigate getting the roof of the north chapel repaired as a matter of urgency – would this be enough?
Clock Tower – the Town Council spent nearly £16k refurbishing the Clock Tower during 15/16 financial year which diminished reserves. In 2021 we carried out a Fixed Wire Test of the building and remedial electrical work that was identified. However, we do have a leaking roof and the grounds staff suggest that this needs looking at. They also suggest that the front doors could do with a bit of refurbishment/repainting work. Reserves were reduced by £1000 last year. Suggest we retain reserves of £3160 and budget a further £1000.
Clock – The clock & autowind unit should now be working. The invoice has just been received and matches the quote received back in June at £3005 + VAT. We did have enough in reserves to pay for this last year but the committee reduced reserves. I have therefore increased the reserves again and suggest we budget £500 to allow for an annual service/maintenance etc.
Clock Tower Island – The committee reduced reserves by £3800 last year. Reserves now stand at £690 so I suggest we budget £200 again.
Jubilee Garden Walls & path – The walkway in Jubilee Gardens was resurfaced in 2021 at a cost of £4150. Surrounding walls need repointing and initial estimates a couple of years ago were in the region of £1000. Suggest we retain reserves of £1100 and budget a further £400
Pennybank Lane Walls – Five years ago it was noted that part of the brick wall on the eastern side of Pennybank Lane had been removed and replaced by a fence. Upon investigation it turned out that Mr. James Chalke had bought the property and had removed the wall believing it to be his. Mr. Chalke said he would be happy for the Town Council to rebuild the wall and we collected and stored all the bricks last year so we could rebuild the wall if we wanted to. Members previously agreed that rebuilding the wall at some point should be a subject for future Full Council discussion (never held). We had reserves of £3200 to do this but members reduced them drastically last year. Suggest we retain reserves of £400 and start building reserves again by budgeting a further £350 this year.
War Memorial – The War Memorial was completely refurbished/cleaned in 2018 at a cost of £6300 (we did get a grant to help with the cost). We had reserves of £1990 but these were reduced last year to £990. Suggest we keep the £1500 we now have in reserve and budget a further £250 to rebuild reserves.
Huntsgatge Play Area Walls & railings – £1500 would not go too far if the wall was knocked down by a parked car but then hopefully, we would be able to claim off third parties’ insurance. We would like to do some work to the railings to make them sturdier and they need to be repainted which could be a job for Sam. We had reserves of £1500 but these were removed last year. I would suggest we add reserves of £500 to allow for paint/labour to smarten up the railings.
Horticultural Shed – We had reserves of £800 but these were reduced again last year. Can we please start building reserves to carry out some repainting of this building. Most of the painting could be carried out in house by Sam. Suggest we add £400 to build reserves.
Office – we had £1200 in reserve two years ago but these have been reduced by £500 for two years running. We added some windows some years ago and I am concerned about the flat roof. The office will need carpeting/decorating at some point in the near future. I suggest we start building reserves again and have budgeted £500
Telephone Kiosk, The Square – we have £250 in reserve. The telephone kiosk was all painted in 2018. Not aware of any need for refurbishment/repair. Suggest no budget.
Vehicle & trailer – We purchased the Mitsubishi in 2015 for £5850. We now believe that it may be on its last legs and that we should be looking out for a new (second-hand) vehicle. We have reserves of £7000 and suggest we budget a further £3000. There may be an opportunity to combine vehicle with tipper trailer. It was reported at the meeting that the Mitsubishi has gone into the garage for an MOT today and with repairs that are going to cost in the region of nearly £900, the technician has said he feels that the vehicle is not on its last legs and will continue for a while longer. Agreed to retain reserves but remove budget.
Litter bins –The problem with providing new litter bins is that they have to be emptied which is more work on our grounds staff and the waste has to be removed which is more cost on our waste removal contract. We have been asked, however, to provide a litter bin for the Edgebridge/Walnut Road area and with the new development at Woodlands Road – this is likely to be more of a demand. A sturdy metal litter bin costs between £600 & £800. Suggest we keep reserves of £1040 and I will ask our Project Co-Ordinator to include a litter bin in his footpath project specification which should deal with the request above. We need a replacement litter bin for outside the cemetery gates though.
Replacement tractor/ride-on mowers – We have used up all our reserves on the purchase of the two new ride-on mowers & we need to build up reserves for the replacement ride-on mowers which we should do before they are on their last legs and we become desperate. Suggest we budget £3000.
Office equipment – The Town Clerk’s computer replaced in 2016/17 financial year and Clerks Assistants computer purchased in 2013/14 financial year. Equipment which was necessary to implement zoom meetings but unanticipated was purchased in 20/21 financial year. This was justified as Clerk applied for and received a business support grant. Main printer was replaced this year and Clerk has a second monitor too + Roger had new office chair. I would suggest that certainly one of the computers should be replaced this year and that we should keep reserves of £975 and budget a further £225 to build reserves to £1200.
Seats & benches – the Town Council’s policy is to have these donated. We have had one benches donated this year (Castle Hill Play Area). We are trying to sort out repairs for the benches in The Square. Please see separate item under Recreation Ground for benches in Rec.
Xmas Lights – We have £680 in reserve for new/replacement lights. We have tested our lights for this year and all seems to be OK but sometimes we have to order a new string at the last minute. (one string costs about £200) Suggest we retain reserves and make no budget.
Play Equipment for Castle Hill Play Area – The multi-play unit was purchased in 2014, using Policy R2 funds and the swings had been refurbished a few years prior. However, the low level wooden trailway is now very old and some of it has had to be removed. Four years ago, members agreed that funds should be budgeted in order to consider replacement in the future. However, last year members removed reserves of £3250 on the basis that new play equipment for Castle Hill Play Area could be funded from S.106 money, as detailed on pages 1 & 2 of this report.
Skatepark – it would be lovely to extend the skatepark and do a Phase 2 because it is very popular. Could possibly get funding for this but I think the feeling is that there are far more urgent items for the time being.
Swimming Pool/Outdoor Gym Equipment – Our intentions were to build an outdoor gym area inside the old swimming pool site and indeed, we filled in the old swimming pool at a cost of £3880. The whole project was put on the back burner because Mere School wanted to use part of it within the car park expansion project but it turns out now that most of the old site is still available to us. The reserves are, in fact made up from third party funding so it would not be appropriate to remove them but it may be possible to redirect to a different project if required. Members may still wish to consider this site as outdoor gym area or we could include a table-tennis table or we could perhaps use it for calisthenics workout equipment – any of these options could be funded from our S.106 funds. Other uses have been suggested to us i.e. Petanque and the Play Group have indicated that they may wish to rent it from us as an outdoor play area. For the purposes of the budget meeting, suggest we retain reserves of £1120.
Public Access Defibrillator –Two years ago it was agreed that we should start building reserves to replace the two defibrillators we have at some time in the future. Reserves now stand at £750. Budget a further £250. NB – the defibrillator in The Square is a new replacement (insurance claim) that was installed in October 2022 (cost £1074). I have submitted a grant request for a new defibrillator and this could be partial or wholly funded but I have not heard whether or not it has been successful. I did think that it would be a good idea to have a defib outside the Walnut to serve that end of Mere and have identified a possible place it could be situated. Suggest we retain reserves of £1000 and seek grant funding or public donations
Storage containers for grounds equipment/staff – As far as I am aware the storage situation is OK at the present
Speed Indicator Device – Do we need another one?
The following items are on the grounds staff’s Wish List:
Wish List (in order of priority but not necessarily to purchase in one year)
Hand held hedgetrimmer – £600
Chipper – £1750 – £2000
Tipping trailer (we could part-exchange our trailer) £4350
Muck grab for loader (send-hand) £500
With regards to the wish list it was agreed to budget £600 for a new hand-held hedgetrimmer and budget only £200 for the chipper which might allow the hire of a chipper. Remove budget for tipping trailer and muck grab.
Grounds machinery and power tool replacements – This heading is meant for smaller items – e.g. drills, strimmers, chainsaws. Identified a need for a new drill and I suspect we will need to buy a chainsaw when we can get one of the staff on a chainsaw course.
Castle Street Car Park – Rates – no comment
Salisbury Street Car Park – Rates – the rates for the Salisbury Street Car Park include rates for the Public Toilets (I presume) – the rate bill says car park & premises. The bill to stop business rates on public toilets has now been passed through parliament and we have been communicating with the government’s valuation office to get the rates for the Salisbury Street Car Park reduced. I am pleased to report that there was a significant reduction this year. Suggest we remove reserves and include budgets to allow for a 10% increase next year.
Maintenance – Three years ago we had some pointing work done to the walls around the Castle Street Car Park at a cost of £700. However, A. McCann said at the time that there is more work required which he reckons would cost about £500. This was very difficult to predict as with any stone wall project, the damage is not apparent until you start taking back the pointing and taking out stones etc. Anthony also said that the wall around the Band Hut needs attention but it is not immediately dangerous. Could do capping just to stop the water getting in which would cost approx… £200 or could repair whole lot which would cost £400-500. Reserves have been reduced during the last two years and now stand at less than £2000. There is concern that one of the walls in the Salisbury Street Car Park is coming away from the pillar and we need to get this investigated – I think it is due to a Whisteria that has been planted by a third party. We also have ongoing pothole repairs to carry out and I think there is another dead tree in Salisbury Street Car Park. Suggest we retain reserves of £1918 and budget a further £1000. Recommended to make no budget for the maintenance of the car parks.
Street Light for steps/Dark Lane – The street light was installed last year – 31.3.22. We were told that we would be required to make a contribution of £2637 but we have not yet received an invoice. Last year we retained the reserves in case we got an invoice but still not invoice received. On the assumption that we are never going to receive an invoice for this street light, I would like to divert the funding to provide for two dropped kerbs in locations in the car park to provide for disabled access to the surgery and to the toilets. Recommended to reduce the reserves by £1300 and proceed with the dropped kerb by the Doctors Surgery and to include the dropped kerb for the public toilets within the public toilet tender specification if it was necessary.
Flags – Each flag costs about £160. Requirement for new flags is slightly dependent on the weather, especially in the winter. I like to leave enough in reserves to purchase 4 flags a year, if necessary. We may need to buy two new flags this winter and possibly 2 new flags for next winter and possibly a new St. Georges flag – that is 5 flags at £160 = £900. Therefore suggest we retain reserves of £535 and budget a further £265.
Flag Pole – Over the years we have been building up reserves for repairs necessary to the flag pole. We are aware that the wire to haul the flag up the pole has broken and that we need to find someone to put a new wire on. Unfortunately reserves were reduced drastically last year. I would actually prefer to investigate the idea of purchasing a whole new aluminium flag pole. Suggest retain reserves of £315 and budget a further £1000 to build reserves again. The Clerk pointed out that she had received a quotation from the Hampshire Flag Company to survey the site with a view to installing a new flag pole. The cost of the survey would be £180 + VAT.
Grass seeds & weed control – no comment
Maintenance of floodlight – no comment
Rentals – no comment
Signs/information boards – no comment
Gates/fences & footpaths – I am concerned that we need to carry out a lot of repair work to the fencing in order to keep the goats in. Suggest we retain reserves of £800 and budget a further £1000 (see Long Hill section also).
Tree management –This is for Castle Hill only. Suggest we reduce reserves of £1538 and make no budget.
Castle Hill Environment Plan/HLS Scheme – Last year we were offered and accepted an extension for our HLS Environmental Stewardship Scheme until September 2028 and so we should continue to receive our grant funding year on year as long as we comply with the conditions i.e. keep the hill grazed and carry out some scrub clearance. I am concerned that the grounds staff are not going to get the opportunity to get any scrub clearance carried out up there again this year and it is imperative that we keep the goats grazing on there (see fencing concerns). This heading does not really need any funding allocated to it (just time) but suggest we should retain reserves of £300.
Rates – Following the valuation form that I had to complete for the VOA last year, I was concerned that we would have a large rate increase on the cemetery but it turned out to be not as bad as I expected. Our rates were £1139.59. I suggest we budget £1250 for next year.
Walls, railings & footpaths – The work carried out by the Youth Offenders Team on the railings four years ago never got completed. Sam has carried out a small amount of painting work on the railings this year. The grounds staff carried out some refurbishment work on the main footpath five years ago at a cost of £850 and I am aware that they would like to extend this work further out to other footpaths within the old cemetery – time permitting. Also, the grounds staff are concerned about the gate on the north-eastern corner by Barnes Place. The gates don’t meet because the pillars have moved due to large oak tree roots – it was agreed to discuss this issue at a future Full Council meeting. Reserves have been reduced during the last two budgets. Walls are not in the best condition and would cost an awful lot to repair if they fell down. Suggest we retain reserves of £1800 and budget a further £500.
Water Rates – No comment
Signs & Security – It would be good to refurbish the solar Victorian Street Light. Suggest we retain reserves of £173 and budget a further £100.
Tree Management – Reserves are allocated to deal with actions in tree inspection report. As you know, we have concerns about the state of the yew arch. Also, you will recall that a tree blew over onto the garden wall of an adjoining landowner last year and I have concerns about other trees/shrubs in the vicinity. I would suggest that some tree clearance work should take place here. Suggest we retain reserves of £830 and budget a further £400.
Ground & Weed Management – Grounds staff would like to remove some of the spoil from the old cemetery. This would require the hire of machinery and could be done when footpaths are refurbished or when work on new cemetery is carried out. Suggest we retain reserves of £145 and budget a further £100
Materials/Repairs – I would suggest that these reserves are added to the Walls/Railings/Footpaths and a concerted effort is made to improve footpaths, gates, railings, walls, fences etc. over the next few years. Retain reserves but make no further budget.
Drainage & paths – As above, the intention is to start the next phase of drainage and path works. Phase 1 cost £7510.25 in machinery hire and materials. On the quotations received by John on 3.10.23 it is anticipated that the cost of materials + hire of machinery will be £6156. Simon is hoping to start work on 8th January and has also requested that Sam is working alongside them for 24 hours per week X 4 weeks. That will require an additional £1032.00. Suggest we retain reserves of £6000 and budget a further £2000
Fencing, gates & hedging – Thre will be a lot of hedge plants to buy & plant. Are we intending to do this “in house” – if so, by whom and when. Do we need more fencing/wooden gates?. Suggest we retain reserves of £3390 and budget a further £1000 – will this be sufficient to purchase & plant hedging, wooden gates and to move some of the spoil heaps. Grounds staff asked if the grave diggers shouldn’t be taking away the muck? What do other cemeteries do about this problem?
New gates & drive –I have been looking on Ebay for second-hand gates and they do come up at about £450 but they are usually in the north of the country and would cost £200 to transport. We can get new ones for £650
(advertised on Ebay) that we can collect from Malmesbury. Suggest we contact them and see if they can do a couple of sets of railings too and perhaps, we could then afford to build a couple of pillars and two sections of short wall with our Mere stone. Suggest we retain reserves of £2500 and budget a further £500. Recommended to reduce reserves to £2000 and make no budget.
Water – No comment
Planting scheme – No comment.
Lych Gate – Members have historically said that although this was an aspiration which was financially unviable but requested that I keep it as a budget heading in case the situation changes.
Signage – Signage & new noticeboard was replaced in 2021. No reserves. No budget.
Burial Books – no comment
CHAIRMAN’S EXPENSES – No comment
CHAIRMAN’S PENDANT – No Comment
Electricity – Please remember that the office electricity supply (which provides heating as well as lighting/computer comes from the changing rooms supply as well as the MUGA lights) – there was very little football club usage last winter as the combined football club was not using the showers. However, the new adult team is using the showers although the costs associated with use of the changing rooms and electricity have never historically been large (gas is more of a concern). Owing to the increase in energy prices, I suggest that we retain reserves of £940 and budget a further £1000 for next year. In the meantime, is there anything more we can do about the floodlights – are they both LEDs? Put solar panels on the office roof? Sort out the water heater/showers for changing rooms?
Fire Alarm Maintenance – no comment.
Gas – Five years ago the gas used in the changing rooms cost us £705. As mentioned above, there was very little gas usage last year but we are expecting this to be higher with the new football club although they have agreed to pay for their gas usage. I suggest we retain reserves of £500 and make no budget.
Maintenance/Repair – Two years ago, the Clerk recommended that the Town Council should spend reserves and decorate and smarten up the changing rooms but, unfortunately, the Town Council did not agree and they recommended that all reserves be removed from this budget heading (£1572). We did budget £300 last year and the football club have redecorated the changing rooms this year in lieu of a reduction to their fee. I suggest we retain remaining reserves of £250 ad budget a further £250.
Security – no comment.
Water & sewerage – as Gas above. The water usage is likely to increase due to increased football usage. I suggest we retain reserves of £330 and budget a further £200 for next year.
Boiler Maintenance & water testing – We have now found a contractor to service the big boiler that supplies the changing rooms (this has been fairly difficult to find) and we have other contractors to do the small gas boiler. Water testing is carried out by the football club and professionally if thought necessary or prudent. Suggest we retain reserves of £490 and budget a further £310
CLIMATE CHANGE INITIATIVES
The Town Council has aspirations to be proactive with climate change initiatives and I would suggest that we set aside some seed money (suggesting £4000) to use for initiatives such as solar panels for Duchy Manor, changing rooms and/or public toilets. EV charger for Duchy Manor and possibly Castle Street Car Park. Whilst I realise that £4000 will probably not go very far, it might provide seed funding to seek grant support or start building up reserves for future years. Last year, the Chairman said that he had put down a marker of £5000 but in the current financial state, he was now going to suggest that we reduce this figure to £2000. Cllr. Jeans felt that the Council ought to do something to get solar panels on the roof of the children’s centre/changing rooms to get electricity. Cllr. P. Coward said he did not agree with reducing this figure as he thought it was short-sighted as the Council would get its money back in the longer term and said that as long as you are using the electricity, then the payback period is fairly short. Cllr. Jordan said it was wholly dependent on the lease and reiterated that he was suggesting reducing the budgeted figure from £5k to £2k as we wouldn’t need to do it next year.
I am going to suggest that we retain the £2000 I reserve and budget a further £2500.
There was a discussion about the availability of grants. Cllr. Jeans said you need money to look for grants and this may be a suitable issue for the project co-ordinator to research and perhaps Cllr. Stone can provide advice. There was a discussion about whether or not the school might want to come on board with such a project and also further discussion about supply/meters etc.
Community Resilience Group – As members were informed last month, Cllr. Rachael Hansford was successful in getting a grant from SSE in order to appoint a contractor to co-ordinate the Community Resilience Group. This funding has been received by the Town Council and therefore is allocated as a reserve under this heading. We are in correspondence with SSE relating to alternative uses for this funding and I am hopeful that we can agree on an alternative use in order to avoid refunding the grant money. NRSWA training for our grounds staff and generators for public buildings might be alternative uses.
Croquet & Boules Club – Time resources have not allowed for any work in preparing the lease renewal for the Croquet & Boules Club although the funding for this is under a different budget heading. As many of you will recall, I am concerned about the future of the club as I believe it has depleted membership and much land maintenance to do or fund which will revert to us if the club folds. There ae also issues with a large beach tree to the left of the gate which, incidentally, is not on the Town Council’s tree register. Suggest we retain reserves at £500.
DEFIBRILLATORS (Maintenance) – We spend an average of £300 a year on new parts and maintenance for the 2 defibrillators in the town. However, this year we have spent £445.35. One of the batteries needed to be replaced which was fairly expensive (£220) and it is necessary to buy new pads if the defibrillator is deployed. Suggest we retain reserves of £155 and budget a further £400 for next year.
DUCHY MANOR GROUNDS
Maintenance – The school gates on Springfield Road have been painted by Sam. Fencing between Duchy Grounds and Burton Path needs some attention. – Please consider options – High chain link fence would be ideal. Fence along eastern boundary also needs some attention. External lighting has been improved. Members reduced reserves by £1500 last year. Suggest we retain reserves of £700 and budget a further £1000 to carry out some fencing work.
Rates – No comment
Rentals – No comment
Security/Safety/Lighting – One of the lighting bollards was damaged by vandalism (police aware). Having spoken to the manufacturers, they tell me it is not possible to replace the broken components but that the whole bollard needs to be replaced at a cost of £340 + installation costs. Therefore, suggest we retain reserves of £200 and budget a further £200.
Signs – Would like to get a Mere Town Council sign. I know this has been previously approved in any case. Would suggest largish sign on two posts and now that school expansion works have been completed, we can agree wording and location etc. Suggest we retain reserves of £28 and budget a further £300
Tree Management – Funds should be retained in order to respond to actions within tree inspection report. We still need to plant two smaller trees to replace the two felled poplar trees.
EVENTS – Last year we put money aside for the Coronation but didn’t spend any of it because we received generous donations from Cllrs. Mrs. Symonds, Mrs. Traves & Cllr. Jeans. Are there any events for next year? Recommended to remove reserves for Events as this would now come out of the Wiltshire Towns Programme.
FINGERPOST SIGNS – We were successful in receiving a grant for £400 towards the refurbishment of one fingerpost at the end of 2020 financial year and another one at the beginning of 2021 financial year. We have been waiting for nearly a year for the fraction letters to arrive before we can complete the work. The grants never quite cover the costs of renewing the fingerpost signs so I suggest we budget £200 to cover extra costs.
FLORAL ENHANCEMENTS – No comment.
Footpath Group – this is the Footpath Group’s money
Seed money to tarmac Burton Footpath – £1000 was taken out of reserves last year. Do you want to start building up reserves again? (We were building up reserves to act as seed money for LHFIG request). Recommended to retain reserves of £700
Small Tools & Equipment – No comment
Branded Work Clothing – No comment
Fuel & Oil – Need to increase budget as cost of fuel & oil has increased. Suggest increase reserves to £1500 and budget £5000
Hedge cutting – Although we have bought a new tractor, I am not sure that we can afford to buy a hedgecutter attachment so, unfortunately, we cannot yet do away with having contractors in. Suggest retain reserves of £340 and budget a further £350.
Hedge planting/gates/fences – No comment
Play equipment repairs (in house) – We have just received the 2023 RoSPA Inspection report which identifies various works and repairs, most of which can be carried out “in house”.
Seats & benches (repairs & maintenance) –Reserves on bench repairs have been spent. Suggest we budget £350
Signs – no comment
Weed Control – no comment
Vehicle road tax & insurance –No comment.
CCTV and/or Wildlife Cameras – We have suffered vandalism in the past and we occasionally get “hot spots” which move – sometimes it is the pavilion, sometimes it is Salisbury Street Car Park & other times it is the cemetery. We also have little problems like someone repeatedly allowing a dog into the new cemetery, or someone deliberately leaving the gate open on Castle Hill to let the goats out so we wondered if some kind of more mobile CCTV might prove to be useful. I am not sure how this would work with GDPR though. We budgeted £500 two years ago so that we could consider this which is now in reserves. Suggest retain reserves.
Rental for storage containers/compound – Rental is £3600 per year (£100 per container, per month). The Town Council has three containers at Townsend Nurseries and the tractor is houses in another large shed. I am not aware of any other suitable location to use as a compound area although we have got an interest registered with Wiltshire Council. The problem at the present time is that there is not enough space to store all our equipment in one location and the grounds staff spend a lot of time going from one place to another to pick up one piece of equipment before they can actually get on with their work.
Electricity for compound – since the issue that happened in 2021, the grounds staff have been taking monthly meter readings of their new electricity meter. Over the last 8 months they have used, on average, 43 units per month.
Other storage facilities – the Town Council does use a large shed at Southbrook for storage. This shed needs some attention and would like to retain reserves of £120 and budget a further £300 to purchase wood/felt for repair work.
GROUNDS MACHINERY – This section is for maintenance, service & repair costs only. Any new machinery or replacement machinery comes under capital purchase. Obviously, it is not practical or desirable to spend more money on repairs than it would be to buy a new piece of equipment. However, sometimes a chainsaw or a strimmer can be repaired several times but each time the repair cost is minimal. I would like to point out that Paul has significant experience with machinery & vehicle maintenance and the grounds staff now carry out a lot of maintenance work themselves which saves us a lot of money. i.e. Trimac
Recommended to budget £500 for the Mitsubishi L200 given the fact that £1000 will be spent on repairs this year.
GROUNDS SUNDRIES – No comment
HEALTH & SAFETY
COVID-19 – Suggest we reduce reserves to £200 and make no budget.
Fire Safety – No comment.
First Aid – No comment.
Pest Control – I have reduced reserves to £720 to allow us to deal with the pest problem at Duchy Manor Sports Ground. Suggest we budget £500 for next year.
Play Equipment Inspection – No comment
PPE – No comment
Tree Inspection – Our professional tree inspection was carried out in 2021 at a cost of £1800 and we should have this done every 3 – 5 years. We should start building reserves for the next tree inspection which will take place 24/25. Retain reserves of £600 and budget a further £600.
Signs/barriers – No comment
PAT testing – No comment
Fixed Wire Testing – We are having one building done at a time because it is too costly to have them all done at the same time. We had Youth Club done om 20/21 and Clock Tower done in 21/22. We will have the Andy Young Pavilion done in 22/23?
Legionella Risk Assessment – we have had this done last year. Company called Aquamark have provided us with some training and a Water Management Logbook.
HUNTSGATE (WALNUT ROAD) PLAY AREA – The commuted sum that was given to us for the maintenance of the Walnut Road Play Area has been reduced year-on-year on its maintenance and has now depleted. Our Project Co-Ordinator is now in the process of seeking tenders/designs for the refurbishment of this play area which can be funded from S.106 funds so I suggest no reserve and no budget.
KINGSMERE/LONGHILL OPEN SPACE
Tree Works – Tree Inspection Report has identified an awful lot of ash dieback that will need dealing with but this is complicated as could involve the need for a Forestry Commission licence. We have a vast amount of ash die back but will be concentrating on removing trees that are nearest the footpaths. I am hoping that much of this work can be done ‘in house’ but that will, of course, require appropriate chainsaw training and certification for our grounds staff. Suggest we retain reserves of £1000 and budget a further £1000.
Fencing & Hedge cutting – The fencing around Long Hill is not in good condition at all. We really need to get a fencing contractor in to carry out repairs/replacements but I fear this is going to cost far more than we can afford. Suggest we retain reserves of £786 and budget a further £2000 and look for grant funding for the difference, if possible.
Water Supply – No comment
Maintenance& Floodlights – The MUGA is starting to look very tatty and worse for wear and would, I think, benefit from some refurbishment. I am pleased to report that the rusty electrical boxes have been replaced. You will recall that we installed 1 LED light to replace one of the floodlights some years ago and this has been fairly successful and the Council had agreed to continue this programme as and when the floodlights stop working. As I said, I think the whole MUGA area and facilities could do with refurbishing/resurfacing but this project could be done using S.106 funds (although I suspect that there will not be sufficient funding to cover this). Maybe Sport England funding might be an option. Anyhow, suggest we retain reserves of £885 overall and budget £615 to bring this up to £1500 overall funding.
I am not aware that the Neighbourhood Plan needs funding from the Town Council.
Payroll – to discuss at meeting under ‘CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS’ – see additional confidential information
VisitWiltshire – this year we have paid £450 to subscribe to VisitWiltshire but this payment has come out of the Wiltshire Towns Programme fund for this year. See entry: https://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/towns-and-villages/mere-p441833
Do we want to subscribe again? No budget was made for this.
Website – The Town Council’s website was reworked three years ago to comply with the new website accessibility requirements. It would be great to find the time to add more information to the website and to make sure that it is up-to-date – contacts etc. Anyhow, suggest we retain reserves of £180 and budget £550.
Personnel fee for holiday cover & extra cleaning – Sam now covers for when Maggie goes on holiday which accounts for the £200 expenditure. I have reduced reserves to £500 and suggest we make no budget.
Service Contract for Wallgate units – No comment
Cleaning Equipment – No comment
Cleaning Products – No comment
Dispensers – We have learnt that it is better to buy the more expensive stainless-steel ones than the cheaper plastic ones. Retain reserves of £144 and make no budget.
Security – We did build reserves to provide CCTV in the car park on the public toilets but two years ago members recommended that the reserves should be removed as there may be an alternative solution and vandalism had not been a problem since the toilets had been locked at night. Since then, we have opened the toilets at night and we are suffering from some minor vandalism. I would like to revisit the idea of CCTV in the car park but I am aware that this has an impact on GDPR policies and FOI Regulations. Suggest we retain reserves of £178 and make no budget.
Plumbing & Repairs – Suggest we retain reserves of £715 and make no budget.
Electricity –No comment
Water & sewerage – No comment
Refurbishment Costs – Over the last few years the Town Council has been building reserves to refurbish the public toilet and to deal with drainage issues (it was concluded that there were no drainage issues in 2020, however). Our reserves stood at £22,770 two years ago but the reserves were reduced to a level of £14370. This level was retained last year with a budget of £4000 added and our Project Coordinator has headed a project to provide a complete internal rebuild and refurbishment. It is estimated that the total cost could be £40 – £50k. I suggest that the Town Council should retain reserves of £16910 and seek borrowing approval from DLUHC to take out a loan with the Public Works Loan Board for the remaining funds necessary.
Recommended to seek borrowing approval for this project and to use the reserves as downpayment and repayments for the borrowing.
Gates, fencing, hedges, locks & security – No comment
Hedge cutting – no comment
Health & Safety – no comment
Legal/valuations – no comment
Play Equipment/Area – From our Project Co-Ordinator’s consultation exercise on the Walnut Road Play Area, it is fairly evident that the community would like us to spend some money on refurbishing the play area in the Recreation Ground. Members removed reserves in the knowledge that S.106 funding could be used for this purpose and so I would suggest that this might be considered a fairly high priority for our next phase of projects.
Signs – Would like to replace the large ‘Regulations’ sign in the Recreation Ground as it is now quite old and tatty. Suggest retain reserves of £495 and make no further budget.
Tennis Courts – We agreed, a few years ago, that we would continue setting aside some money to build up reserves for refurbishment of tennis courts in future. However, given that this would fall within the remit for expenditure of S.106 funds, I am suggesting that we remove reserves of £500 and make no further budget. (This is what we agreed last year but it is now fairly obvious that our S.106 funding is not going to stretch as far as we thought).
Water Rates – No comment
Litter bins – we have replaced the bin that was set fire to in the summer. Fireproof bin cost us £450. Suggest we retain reserves of £250 and budget a further £200 so that we have enough funding to purchase another one if needed.
Trees – We have been building reserves in order to get extra tree work done to crown lift the TPO trees on eastern boundary – both sides – so that farmer can get underneath with tractor etc. I have received a quotation for this work at £1430 (quotation now expired) Suggest we increase reserves to £1930 and budget a further £270.
Skate Park maintenance – The skatepark is very popular and is wearing well although there are some minor small cracks appearing in the concrete. Maverick (the people that installed the skatepark) have been extremely helpful and have been out and filled in the cracks free of charge on two separate occasions. Suggest we retain reserves of £400.
Car Park Repairs – Two years ago it was suggested that we get a load of road planings and see if we can level car park area – I think this job should be done when we hire machinery for cemetery work. Retain reserves of £1350 and plan for this a.s.a.p. Cllr. Jeans expressed the need for something to be done about the car park as a matter of urgency and it was agreed that this should be raised as a future agenda item.
Youth Club – Three years ago I amended the reserves to £6000 which is the sum that we have promised the Seeds4Success to be put towards their project. This is the wording I put in my report which was subsequently approved by the Town Council: ‘Mere Town Council will consider, at its Annual Budget Meeting each year, the budgeting and allocation of grants or donations to Seeds4Success to go towards this project until the building has been completed and thereafter, will consider, upon request, grants or donations to Seeds4Success to be used towards repair/maintenance costs of the building that may be necessary or required.’ We budgeted £1000 to add to these reserves two years ago and the reserves stood at £7000. However, members removed £3000 from reserves last year. Reserves now stand at £5000 and I suggest that we should budget £1000 to bring it in line with the promised amount at the very least. I believe that we will also be hearing from the Trustees of S4S with the outline of a new project very shortly.
Public Toilet for Recreation Ground – no comment
Bench seating for Recreation Ground – the Town Council is happy to consider applications for donated seats and benches.
This is money which has been awarded to the Rivers Group as a grant.
The limit of expenditure for S.137 during 2022/23 is £9.93 per elector (9.93 X 2550 = £25,321.50)
I have set the S.137 grants and donations at the same level as the previous year.
Area Board Support Gants – as far as I can recall, we have not needed to provide any grants to support Area Support Grants this year. Suggest we retain reserves of £1000 but make no budget.
CATG Commitments/Projects – We have requested that the 30mph speed limit is extended in Shaftesbury Road – it is anticipated that our contribution towards this work will we be £2511.69. However, the residents have agreed to pay the Town Council £1000 towards this (net cost to the TC would be £1511.69) . We have requested two street name signs from LHFIG and it is anticipated that our contribution towards them will be £280. Heaven knows what our contribution towards the Town Centre Traffic Management proposals and the Clements Lane/Edgebridge proposals would be. My guess is £32,000?!. Suggest we retain reserves of £2250 and budget a further £2000.
Cllr. Jordan said that Mere Matters were happy to reduce their donation by £300 but they would like £100 of this reduction to be assigned to the Foodbank if the Town Council thought this was appropriate. Members agreed to increase the Foodbank donation from £500 to £600 next year..
Bing bags & consumables – No comment
Protective Clothing – No comment
Commercial Waste Collection – Wiltshire Council have contracted out this service and we now have a direct contract with Hills Waste. However, we are repeatedly being charged for excess weight. It is not a case that the rubbish won’t go in the bin but a case that the weight of the rubbish is too much. We have had quotations from other contractors but it appeared cheaper to stay with Hills and to pay for the excess weight charge. This also saves us the problem of finding somewhere to store extra bins. I have reduced reserves but suggest that we budget the same as last year again (£2400).
Dog waste bags – We are getting through these rather rapidly although I am sure the provision is appreciated, not least by our own staff but we have noticed that some people just go and take loads of the bags. However, I don’t suppose this matters as long as they are using them. I have reduced reserves to £315 and suggest we budget £800 again for next year.
Paint/brushes/tools – this is mainly for equipment & consumables to enable our Street Orderly to carry out town enhancements e.g. painting litter bins, railings, bollards etc. Unfortunately, the paint for the railings is very expensive
WHITE ROAD GARDENS
The reserves set aside for the White Road Gardens Play Area was a commuted sum from the developers to provide play equipment in the play area for the site. However, after consultation with residents once the development was built, it was clear that a play area was not desired in that location and it was felt that the Recreation Ground play area was within close proximity. The Clerk pointed out that the commuted sum had been reduced over the years on maintenance & grass cutting of the play area at White Road. The balance at present stands at £554. We have been wondering whether this might be a suitable site to provide a community orchard area with seating and perhaps play equipment for very young children e.g. sandpit, games panels etc. or an outdoor gym or calisthenics fitness site. Either way, I am sure that S.106 funding or grant funding would be appropriate.
Suggest retain reserves and make no budget.
Road Name Signs
This is another function that has now been dumped onto – sorry – delegated to Parish & Town Councils by Wiltshire Council. Suggest we retain reserves of £590 and budget a further £200.
Install EV charging point for car park – As we have now signed the licence agreement with Econetiq, I am suggesting that we remove this budget heading and the reserves altogether.
Succession – this budget heading was originally put in place to provide a management resourcing strategy in preparation of the Town Clerk’s approaching retirement (within the next 5 years or so). It has been agreed to try and outsource certain administrative aspects i.e. accounting software, Health & Safety, GDPR. There has been talk about seeking additional administrative support but it is felt that the outsourcing should be applied in the first instance and see if this helps to ease the load. It is therefore felt that ALL the reserves of £13,260 be removed and no budget is made for next year.
ADMINISTRATION – No comment.
Allotments – If we want to apply an allotment rental increase, we need to give 1 year’s notice. We sent out a letter to all allotment holders in March 2023 giving them a year’s notice that we would be applying a 10% increase to all allotment rents w.e.f. March 2024. The allotment rents received during the previous financial year amounted to £1893.50.
CAR PARKS – Sponsorship pledges by businesses – I have raised my concern that some of the sponsor businesses have changed hands and I think it was agreed that Cllr. Hazzard & Cllr. Jeans would revisit the businesses to seek new and renewed pledges. However, as far as I am aware, this hasn’t happened yet and so therefore I have reduced the expected income for next year. We are sending out sponsorship invoices this month.
Cemetery (Burial fees & charges) – The average annual cemetery income from 1.4.19 to 31.3.23 is £8673. This is totally unpredictable because, as you can see, we have already received £11,685 this year. We usually increase cemetery fees by 3% each year. Suggest we increase by 5% this year. Recommended to increase cemetery fees by 10% for 2024/25.
CIL & Policy R2 – I have removed any anticipated CIL or Policy R2 income as it seems that either developers get out of providing the funding or the sort of development does not require funding. The whole thing is a bit of a sham as far as I am aware. However, I have carried out a prediction of possible CIL receipts based on planning applications received in 2022/23 (they haven’t all yet been determined or approved) but it could be in the region of £30k
Croquet & Boules Club Rent – the Town Council has agreed that they only need pay half rental this year and half rental next year.
Duchy Manor rentals –it is my understanding that we either intend to get some income or provide some kind of beneficial service from the space at the old children’s centre when and if we require it. I have not included any income at this stage though.
Floral Sponsors – No comment
Forest Deer Leazes – I have no idea what has happened to the payment we used to get yearly but this used to come by way of Eric Mitchell. I did have a telephone conversation with Derek Sealy about this back in the summer and he said that he was going to make some enquiries but I never heard anything. Do you want me to pursue?
Grants & Donations – No comment
HLS Scheme – We extended our contract for the HLS Scheme for another 5 years and I have submitted a claim for the grant for this year.
Interest – No comment
Policy R2/Section 106 – We received the second phase of S.106 funding from Woodlands Road Development but since it is restricted reserves I have not included it in the budget figures. (You will see from the summary that I have deducted the remainder of the S.106 reserves from the working balances)
Sale of Assets – We sold some timber this year and I believe that we are about to sell some scrap metal.
Sports Clubs fees – No comment. I have applied the annual 3% increase across the board.