Meeting Minutes

Meeting details

  • Date: 7th December 2021
  • Duration: 18:30 - 21:40
  • Location: Clanfield Centre


Meeting minutes:

152/21APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

All Councillors were present. Apologies from County Councillor Robert Mocatta were noted.

153/21DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

There were no declarations of interest declared.

154/21APPROVAL OF MINUTES

It was RESOLVED that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 2 November 2021 were an accurate record of the meeting and they were signed by the Chairman.

The minutes would be published on the website and on the Parish Council noticeboard at the Memorial Hall as soon as practicable.

155/21OPEN FORUM

A resident spoke in support of the Down Farm Barn Project, expressing her view that additional time should be allowed owing to the challenges that the community had faced during the Covid pandemic.

156/21CLERKS REPORT

The Clerk did not have any matters to report.

157/21TO RECEIVE REPORTS FROM THE COUNTY AND DISTRICT COUNCILLORS

County Councillor Mocatta’s written report had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting and there were no questions raised or point of clarification requested. Cllr Mocatta’s report had included reference to the latest guidance and advice on matters relating to Covid 19, community waste reduction grants, the County’s review of the evidence for 20 mph zones in residential areas, the County’s successful bid for funds from the Government’s Community Renewal Fund to provide additional climate change support and an update on recent highway maintenance work.

District Cllrs Agate and Moon had circulated their written reports prior to the meeting and were invited to summarise the key points. Cllr Moon referred to EHDC’s Lottery, the advice and support which is available to residents who are struggling to pay their Council Tax, the course which had been run by the Rebel Business School to help new businesses and the steps which EHDC are taking through emerging draft planning policy to require developers to build zero carbon homes. Among the subjects covered In Cllr Agate’s report were the work which is being done by an EHDC Cabinet Liaison Panel on climate and environmental matters and the re-arrangement of Healthcare Commissioning Groups in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight as from 1 April 2022.

158/21DOWN FARM BARN

The Task Group which had been formed at the October Council Meeting (Minute 133/21) had completed its work and its detailed report had been circulated to Members two weeks prior to this meeting except for two of the appendices which had followed in the intervening period. The report had covered the history of the project, the professional advice which the Council had received over the last six years and detailed information on the issues, and costs, relating to continuing with the proposal for Parish Office and community uses and other alternative options. The report also contained reference to further investment that would be required at The Clanfield Centre to secure its longer term sustainability, on the Council’s obligations as to the management of risk and on the extent of the Council’s existing commitments for the maintenance and eventual renewal of facilities and equipment.

The Chairman introduced the item on behalf of the Task Group. He explained that, whichever option should be chosen, the Council’s internal auditors and property advisers would need to be consulted to ensure that it would meet with audit approval and to review the assumptions that had been made on property values and building costs. He considered that the decision at this meeting would be to select an intended direction of travel.

The Options set out in the report were:

Option A – To proceed with the existing proposals for conversion of the barn to a Parish Office and community uses. It was estimated that the potential funding requirement would be in the region of £700,000.

Option B – To convert the barn to a Parish Office and other office uses with a potential funding requirement in the region of £750,000.

Option C – To renovate part of the property for Parish Council use, partly funded by the sale of part of the site for Residential Development. The potential net funding requirement for this option was estimated to be in the region of £275,000.

Option D – To sell the barn site and invest the capital released after the payment of Overage to BDW Trading Limited in providing accommodation for a gym at The Clanfield Centre. Depending on the size of a gym (1,000 sq ft or 1,500 sq ft), the range of financial outcomes for this option had been estimated from cost neutral to a funding requirement in the region of £100,000.

The Chairman proposed, and it was agreed, that discussion on this item should proceed on the basis of points of clarification first, then he would invite comments and proposals for debate prior to a decision being reached.

No points of clarification were requested beyond those regarding the cash flow analysis which had been dealt with prior to the meeting and shared with all Members.

Members discussed the report content in detail. Some expressed the view that any proposal to sell the barn site to fund additional facilities at the Clanfield Centre could not be supported. They questioned whether time was being called prematurely on the barn project as, in their view, the Council had not had a full opportunity to apply for grant funding. Other Members considered that investing in additional facilities at the Clanfield Centre would secure its longer term future and would be wholly consistent with the Council’s responsibility to avoid, reduce or control its risks.

Among the other matters raised should it be decided to proceed with the barn project were:
- affordability;
- funding options and their relationship to the precept in future years;
- the need to employ a Project Manager as it was thought that the Council did not have the time or skill set to run the project in-house.

District Cllr Moon enquired whether any preparation had been made on formulating funding applications. Cllr Clarke confirmed that discussions had taken place with potential funders. Cllr Williams proposed that the meeting should consider a further option, which he called Option C1, for the renovation of the whole barn for use as a Parish Office and residential units which would utilise the entire building and might lessen the funding requirement to below that required for Options A, B or C.

Members thanked the Task Group for a comprehensive report. At the end of the discussion, the Chairman called for a proposal on which Option should be pursued and several were made:
1. Cllr White proposed Option D, seconded by Cllr Harris.

2. Cllr Woodroof proposed Option C, seconded by Cllr Coffre.

3. Cllr Williams seconded by Cllr Hurst. proposed a hybrid option of Options A, B and C1 so that the funding possibilities of all three could be established.

4. Cllr Clarke proposed option A but this was not seconded.

Members considered proposals 1-3 in the following order:

Proposal 2. Option C - Renovate part of the property for Parish Council use, partly funded by the sale of part of the site for Residential Development. THIS WAS NOT CARRIED. (I FOR, 4 AGAINST and 5 ABSTENTIONS).

Proposal 1. Option D - To sell the Barn site and invest the capital released in providing accommodation for a gym at The Clanfield Centre. THIS WAS NOT CARRIED. (4 FOR, 6 AGAINST)

Proposal 3 Hybrid Option (A, B and C1) CARRIED (5 FOR, 4 AGAINST AND 1 ABSTENTION).

It was then RESOLVED (6 VOTES FOR, 4 AGAINST) that Proposal 3 would be the Council’s proposed direction of travel on this matter and that:

I. Cllrs Williams and Hurst would lead grant funding enquiries;

II. They will report back to the Council on the result of their enquiries no later that the Council Meeting in April 2022;

III. The Clerk will ask the Council’s Internal Auditors to review the Task Group’s report and the Council’s proposed direction of travel on this matter;

IV. Design work for an extension at The Clanfield Centre should be put in hand as a prudent contingency;

V. The Barn would now come under the remit of the Property Management Committee for day to day management. In order to assist matters Cllr Clarke asked if the former Down Farm Barn Working Group could be re-established but this was not agreed.

159/21COUNCIL BUDGET AND PRECEPT FOR 2022/23

a. Cllr Hurst, Chairman the Finance & General Purposes Committee, presented the proposed budget for 2022/23 totalling £203,707. He explained the increase in spend would be offset against known income that would be received during the year and unspent budget from 2021/22 carried forward to new Earmarked Reserve (EMR) budget headings. Cllr Hurst highlighted that the draft budget included provision for additional staffing hours and the headings under property maintenance had been broken down to enable the Council to more effectively monitor the costs that are incurred within that wide ranging category. Members RESOLVED to approve the budget for 2022/23 as £203,707.

b. Members considered a proposed precept of £182,507 that would represent a 1.9% increase on the previous year’s precept. Members questioned whether the discussion under minute reference 158/21 Down Farm Barn, might have implications on the proposed precept in terms of ensuring that sufficient funding would be in place to investigate the chosen direction of travel. It was considered that, with the planned carry forward of unspent budget allocated to Down Farm Barn in the current budget year to an Earmarked Reserve budget of at least £8,000, and the proposed allocation of £9,000 for the Barn project in 2022/23, there would be sufficient funds. Members noted the Council’s Reserves policy which is currently set at 12 months precept to reflect the Council’s financial risk profile. It was felt that this provided some flexibility should, for example, additional funds be required for professional fees.

Members unanimously RESOLVED to approve a precept for 2022/23 of £182,507.

160/21FINANCE AND GENERAL PURPOSES

a. Members received the minutes of the Finance & General Purposes Committee held on 15 November 2021. Cllr Hurst informed Members that the main item of discussion at the meeting had been the draft budget and precept for 2022/23. The Committee had also considered a Press & Media Policy which would be presented to a future Council meeting for approval.

b. Members received:
Income and Expenditure Report
Members approved the Income and Expenditure report as at 30 November 2021.
Bank Reconciliation Report
Members noted the Bank Reconciliation report for all accounts as at 30 November 2021.
Orders for Payment
Members received the Orders for Payment. Payments issued since the last meeting had totaled £15,687.47. The Clerk advised some of the VAT figures would be updated. Payments of £3,992.17 were presented for approval.

The Clerk highlighted the payment to Rialtas of £148.80 for the annual licence and support of the Council’s accounts software. The Clerk explained there would be an additional charge of £600 for support in the closedown of the accounts at year end. She explained that Rialtas offer a loyalty scheme whereby the Council would save 7% off the published fee for 2022 if the Council should enter into a three-year contract with Rialtas Accounts for the Year End Closedown Service.

Members RESOLVED to

a) Approve the orders for payment for December and

b) Agree that the Parish Council enter a 3-year contract with Rialtas Accounts Year End Service to secure the cost saving.

c. Members RESOLVED to make changes to the signatories of the Council’s bank accounts with the Co-operative Bank as follows:

To remove the following signatories:
Mrs Diane Duffy (Retired Clerk)
Mr Brian Ahern (Former Cllr now Deceased)
Mrs Karen Crookshank (Former Cllr)
Mrs M Nuttall (Former Cllr)

And:

To add as signatories:
Katie Knowles (Clerk)
Cllr Dave Harris
Cllr Peter Hurst

d. Members considered a grant application from Victim Support. It was RESOLVED to award a grant of £150.00. The Council had now allocated all of its grant budget for 2021/22.

e. Members RESOLVED to ratify the emergency expenditure incurred on fencing repairs undertaken at the Village Pond to resolve a Health & Safety risk.

f. The Council Office would close on 23 December for the Christmas period and re-open on Wednesday 5 January 2022. Councillors were identified who would be available during the closure period to respond to any emergency situation.

161/21PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

a. Cllr Williams, Chairman of the Property Management Committee, reported on phase 1 of the project to replace the gas boiler at Peel Park Pavilion. He reported that two quotes which had previously been obtained from local contractors had been recently updated. A decision to proceed with the quotation submitted from E.C Coles had been agreed by the Committee. The contractor would contact the Council Office to confirm the works and installation date. Cllr Williams further reported on Phase 2 of the project which would be for the replacement of the two calorifiers. He reported that considering the move away from gas and grant opportunities for Councils to fit community buildings with energy efficient alternatives such as solar panels, contractors would be asked to quote for a Solar Water Heating System that would only use gas as a fall back. He also considered that there would be an opportunity to install the plumbing for a Wastewater Heat Recovery System that could be provided at a later date.

b. The Chairman reported that following a review of all recent inspection reports on the condition of the Council’s playgrounds and play equipment, a composite report had been presented to the Property Management Committee identifying the work that required specialist attention, other works which could be undertaken by the Council’s Ground Maintenance contractors and some items which could be deferred until a future date. Members were being asked to approve a quotation from RJ Playground Services of £1,190 exclusive of VAT for specialist repairs to play equipment at various sites. Members RESOLVED to approve this quotation.

c. Members considered a fee proposal from Vail Williams of to take up Warranty issues relating to The Clanfield Centre with the contractors and developers on behalf of the Parish Council. The proposal suggested a fee cap of £3,500. The Chairman proposed a lower fee cap of £1,750 be set which, he felt, should be sufficient for the initial approach. Members RESOLVED to approve the fee proposal from Vail Williams and set an initial fee cap of  £1,750.

d. Members considered an application from Active Academy Limited for a further Licence to operate the Endal Way tennis courts after the present Licence term expires on 31 March 2022. However, Members re-affirmed their previous decision to include the tennis courts with the Lease of The Clanfield Centre to Community First from 1 April 2022 and, therefore, Active Academy Limited’s application was not approved. However, Members expressed the hope that Active Academy’s continuing negotiations with Community First would prove to be successful.

162/21SOUTH LANE MEADOW

a. Members received the minutes of the meeting of the South Lane Meadow Trustees held on 16 November 2021. Cllr Hurst, Vice Chairman of the Trustees, reported that representativesof Clanfield Gardening Club had attended the meeting regarding the health of the fruit trees in the Orchard. Cllr D’Este Hoare would be meeting with them later that week. Another resident had attended the meeting to highlight the noise problem of barking dogs on Saturday mornings from the dog training classes in the Meadow. It was noted that this was being taken up with the organiser of the classes.

b. Members received an update on the Cricket Pavilion project. Plans that would be submitted to the Local Planning Authority had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting. The Chairman reminded the meeting that, at the Council meeting in April, Members had agreed in principle to a pavilion being built by the Cricket Club in South Lane Meadow and to grant a Lease of the site on which it would be located. The plans circulated showed the layout, location, and orientation of the building within the Meadow together with the planned route of services from South Lane to the Pavilion. The planning application would also cover the proposed extension of the car park. The extension of the car park had been supported by the South Lane Meadow Trustees on the basis that the Cricket Club would cease driving across the Meadow except in exceptional circumstances. It was expected that an extension
would facilitate enough parking spaces for the cricket club and other users of the site. The Parish Council would manage the car park reconstruction and extension. It was the Council’s intention to apply for CIL funding in the New Year to finance these improvement works. Members RESOLVED to approve the Cricket Club’s plans in principle, as circulated.

c. Members considered a fee proposal from civil engineering consultants, Cowan Consultancy Ltd, to advise the Parish Council on the car park reconstruction and drainage works at South Lane Meadow. The proposed fee was £2,800 exclusive of disbursements and VAT for the design work and tendering. However, it was noted that this did not include for site survey work or for investigating the ground conditions as the Consultants did not know whether the Council or the Trustees already had this information. it had since been established that they do not and, therefore, the Chairman felt that a further £1,000 or more would need to be allocated. The fee quotation also did not allow for supervision by the Consultants at the construction stage. Members felt that further quotes should be obtained.

163/21DOWN FARM PARK

The Chairman reported that the Council’s contractors had completed the fencing and gate works around the periphery of the sports pitches and Cllr Foster had kindly put up the signage advising that no dogs are allowed into the fenced area.

It was noted that the control of Ragwort in the top field at Down Farm Park would be an ongoing annual task for, most probably, 3 to 4 years.

164/21COMMUNITY WORKING GROUP

Cllr Coffre, Chairman of the Community Working Group, provided Members with the following update:

  • Whiteland Copse
    One hundred saplings had been planted on 27 November. Further saplings were due to be
    delivered in January. There were plans to move the large bags of mulch to the allotments for
    safekeeping.
  • Green Audit
    The Green Audit survey would be circulated to residents between 1 January – 31 March 2022.
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