(1) The Chairman welcomed everyone to the Meeting, including the speakers for Public Participation, the general public, Members of the Committee including the new Member and all NHDC officers.
(2) He thanked the Committee for appointing him as Chairman and looked forward to working closely with the Vice-Chairman, Cllr Michael Muir. He paid tribute to the former Chairman of the Baldock and District Committee, Cllr John Harris, who had stood down as a District Councillor and therefore from the Baldock and District Committee. The Chairman stated that he and the Committee were grateful for John Harriss hard work for Baldock and his particular skills had been valuable additions to the Committee. He welcomed the new Member of the Committee, Cllr Val Shanley, who now represented Baldock East Ward. All District Councillors were looking forward to working with Cllr Shanley for the good of the residents in Baldock and the surrounding area. (3) The Chairman stated that members of the public could use their devices to film/photograph, or make a sound recording of the meeting, but he asked that they raise their hand to let him know if doing so, so that all present could be informed. He asked that any flash or sound notifications were disabled before the meeting. In addition, the Chairman had arranged for the sound at this particular meeting to be recorded; (4) The Chairman reminded Members that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda should be declared as either a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Declarable Interest and they were required to notify the Chairman of the nature of any interest declared at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest must withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the item. Members declaring a Declarable Interest which required that they leave the room under Paragraph 7.4 of the Code of Conduct, could speak on the item, but must leave the room before the debate and vote; (5) Members of the Committee were requested to clearly state their reason for declaring an interest and what that interest was and to say whether they would remain in the room, speak and vote and not just to declare an interest per se.
Before asking the speakers to address the Baldock and District Committee regarding the grant applications submitted, the Chairman informed the grant applicants that the Area Committees grants budget had been significantly reduced. This meant that the Committee would have to prioritise applications and it was very likely that awards would be significantly reduced. Cllr Jarvis stated that he thought that the budget decision at the last Council Meeting had been to reduce grants by 20% and not 50% and queried why this latter was the case.
The Head of Policy and Community Services (HPCS) offered to clarify. She understood that when the original budget proposals were considered at the Member workshops, Members had expressed a preference to protect larger MoU payments and had been advised that doing so would mean that the entire saving would have to be taken from what budgets remained, i.e. area committee grants. The 20% cut referred to the overall grants budget which was taken entirely from area committee budgets to protect the MoUs. Cllr Jarvis stated that there may have been a discussion at one or more of the Member workshops about MoUs, but his recollection of the motion Council agreed at the February Meeting was to reduce the grants by 20%. The Chairman suggested that the Committee ask the Executive Member for Community Engagement and Rural Affairs to explain why there had been a 50% reduction, as opposed to a 20% reduction, in Area Committee budgets. Chris Lambert of Radwell Village Hall, a former Trustee of the Hall, addressed the Baldock and District Committee. He explained that he was applying for a grant of £1,500 due to the fact that guttering and downpipes were not fit for purpose. The Village Hall was run by village residents, who also run membership and sales. The cost of the work required was £2,500 and if the amount of the grant awarded was less than that applied for, it was likely that the work would be delayed, which will cause more deterioration to the building. The Community Officer advised that a sum of money amounting to approximately £500 had been found in S106 monies and he proposed that the sum requested be changed to £500 and that further sources of funding be investigated. The Chairman thanked Chris Lambert for his presentation to the Committee and for the Village Hall Committees efforts on behalf of the residents of Radwell. Jo Goude of the Stevenage Football Club Foundation explained that this was the charitable community scheme of Stevenage Football Club. The scheme provides coaching for schools, community groups and youth organisations on a daily basis, as well as a variety of open-based community coaching sessions and school holiday soccer camps. The scheme is delivered at the Clubs football academy as well as other venues within the community and provides excellence in football provision for all members. He went through the aims of the charity and explained that a local 20-week session costs £1,100 and one was delivered by a FA coach at the Baldock Arena, taking applicants from across North Hertfordshire, East Hertfordshire etc. Those taking part were charged £5 per session, but this sum may have to be increased in order to accrue funds. It was proposed that the sum granted be amended to £150 and it was requested that an update be provided as to how this sum is spent. The Chairman thanked Jo Goude for his address to the Committee and for his work for the residents of North Hertfordshire. Peter Greener from Ashwell Museum addressed the Baldock and District Committee with regard to the grant application submitted. He explained that it costs the Museum £5,000 to open the doors and maintain services. A total of 100 volunteers work in various roles and provide educational facilities. He stated that it is harder to keep annual running costs in line with income while offering a good service. A Member commented that a charity can apply to the District Council for a deduction off their business rates and the Community Manager informed him that running costs can be provided for one year only. He advised Peter Greener to contact him as he has access to different types of funding available. The Chairman thanked Peter Greener for his presentation to the Committee and for his good work for the residents of Ashwell. Robert Cusworth of the Baldock Rotary Club (BRC) addressed the Committee, reminding them that the Rotary Club had provided the Christmas lights for 36 years. As well as providing them, they maintain, repair and enhance the lights. July 2016 will see the commencement of the annual refurbishment of the lights in order to make them more efficient. The BRC hopes for the continuation of financial assistance from NHDC. He stated that the Christmas lights and taking Santas sleigh round Baldock is a large fundraising event, the results of which goes back into the fund for replacing the community minibus. But a large part of the contribution from the BRC is time. The Chairman commented that the final part of the Memorandum of Understanding for 2012-2016 had concluded and a Member declared that this grant application was a worthy one and the BRCs efforts were very much appreciated by the residents of Baldock, but he considered the sum of £2,000 was too much to expect. The Vice-Chairman noted that £750 had been awarded in the last three years, and suggested that this sum was kept to, so that the project did not fail. BRC had to employ a professional electrician to deal with the lights each year and he had to be paid. The Committee proposed and seconded awarding the sum of £500 for this grant application. The Chairman thanked Robert Cusworth for his presentation to the Committee and for the good work done by Baldock Rotary Club. Paul Luckett of the Baldock Town Twinning Association addressed the Committee. He informed them that the costs of hosting visits amounted to between £2,000 and £3,000 per annum. Activities covered included one public event, raffles, socials, meals and the annual weekend. In addition, funding was required for the visitors meal, as did a day out and a gala dinner in a hired hall with caterers, together with the hire of coaches, halls, entertainment etc. The total this year to date was £2,060 but the sum requested was £500. A Member commented that it was an admirable association, but due to the financial cuts suffered by the Area Committees, the sum of £150 was proposed and agreed. The Chairman thanked Paul Luckett for his presentation to the Committee and for his work, and that of the Town Twinning Association, for the residents of Baldock. Steve Holmes and Mrs LaRoche, both representing Balstock, explained that this was the 6th year that this free music event had been held in Baldock. It was a two-day event on the High Street, involving 16 venues in the Town and run by volunteers. One Member reminded the Committee that G LaRoche (whose wife was present) had been awarded a Community Award by the Chairman of North Hertfordshire District Council at the Civic Reception in March. He proposed that Balstock be awarded £250, a decrease from the sum requested, due to the stringent cuts in Area Committee budgets. Steve Holmes was thanked by the Chairman for his address to the Committee and for the hard work done to make Balstock a success year after year. Cara Richardson explained that she was substituting for Penny Cook of the Baldock Senior Club, who had been unable to attend. She explained the background to the Club and that the total cost of the project was £2,435 and the grant application was for £1,000. Fees were £1 per week but rent for their meeting place at the Baldock Community Centre was £45 per week. Committee discussion ensued and it was proposed that a change of venue be considered, together with an increase in fee, perhaps with small inroads into the Club reserves. The sum of £500 was proposed and unanimously agreed by the Committee. The Chairman thanked Cara Richardson for her address to the Committee and for the work done by the Baldock Senior Club for the people of Baldock. Mike Owen, Chairman of Weston Village Hall Committee gave the background of the Village Hall and explained that it had an average of 20 bookings per week. In fact it had been hired out for 30 hours in the current week. All ages used the Hall and the lighting and insulation required upgrading and the heating improved. It had been calculated that more efficient lighting would cut the £4,000 electricity bill by £1,600 - the total cost would be £12,000 p.a. After some discussion the Committee agreed to award a grant of £550. The Chairman thanked Mike Owen for his address to the Committee and for the work he and the Weston Village Hall do for the residents of Weston. Chris Lunnon explained the makeup of the Letchworth Garden City Rugby Football Club and explained that there was a need for funds to help purchase mobile floodlights and a storage container in which to keep them. He stated that the grounds had been overused, leading to poor quality pitches. Letchworth Committee was also being asked for funding assistance. A Member enquired what percentage of Club members came from Baldock, and was told approximately 33%, meaning that about 66% came from Letchworth. The sum requested was to cover purchasing both floodlights and a storage container in which to keep them and the Committee agreed that they need to support the children from Baldock who are members of the RFC. The Community Manager was questioned about the possibility of obtaining funds from different sources and was informed that it was difficult as the criteria was that money must be for a specific purpose. Chris Lunnon was advised to speak to Letchworth Cllrs Hone and Kercher, who were also Hertfordshire County Councillors, so had extra funds available from their HCC Locality Budgets. The Committee agreed to grant the sum of £400 from Baldock Town and Baldock East Wards, with an extra £50 from the Weston and Sandon Ward budget. The Chairman thanked Chris Lunnon for his presentation and for the work he does for the people of Baldock. Graham Tapps, who helps co-ordinate the Green Shoots project of the Letch worth District Gardeners Association, addressed the Committee, explaining that this project included some volunteers who were disabled. It was meant to be self-funding in the mid- to long-term and would be run by the LDGA Committee. He stated that the restaurant would use fresh produce and the 12 North Herts College students currently working for Green Shoots would shortly be joined by College tutors. This will expand the students work experience and include vulnerable students and those who need to get back into society. Funds were required for a polytunnel to allow the project to run throughout the whole year, but this would cost an estimated £4,000 although the sum requested was £2,200. Members asked Graham Tapps whether he would be asking any other Area Committees to assist with this funding, and he confirmed that Letchworth Committee had been approached. He also explained that as some of the students are vulnerable, they are unable to work in public areas. The Committee voiced their good wishes for the success of this commendable project and advised Graham Tapps that the award proposed was £400, which would be ring-fenced. He was asked to liaise closely with the Community Manager and Community Officer to take advantage of their knowledge and expertise and one Member offered a private donation towards the Green Shoots project. The Chairman thanked Mr Tapps for his presentation and for his valuable work for the people of Baldock. Rionach Aiken, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice North Herts (CANH) addressed the Committee and explained that she was canvassing all the Area Committees in North Hertfordshire for grant applications towards moving their current headquarters in Leys Avenue to larger premises in Station Road, Letchworth. This venue is and always has been, too small for their operation and in addition there had recently been a rent increase of 40%, so they must be out of Leys Avenue by 20 June 2016 at the latest. There are too many people enquiring for face-to-face information slots in the current building, although CANH can be accessed online and by telephone. The Committee was informed that 10% of the applicants for CANH assistance lived in Baldock, and the digital advice screen in the Baldock Community Centre is well used, allowing residents to access the information they nee and also permitting CANH to manage increasing demands on their service. The majority of people who require in-depth advice travel to the main office in Letch worth (which is now moving) or ring CANH for telephone advice. The move should allow the organization to meet growing demand, both for face-to-face and telephone services and to train volunteers from across the District. Rionach Aiken revealed that there is actually a lower demand for debt advice in Baldock than in any other part of North Hertfordshire. She stated that CANH would be grateful for any help towards their costs that the Committee could offer. A Member of the Committee commented that they would like to grant as much as possible, as in 2015 CANH benefitted 5,000 people in North Hertfordshire. After discussion, the Committee agreed to make a grant award of £600 to CANH and the Chairman thanked Rionach Aiken for her presentation and for the vital services offered to the citizens of North Hertfordshire. RESOLVED: (1) That the Baldock and District Committee refer the 55% cut (Cllr Jarvis called it a 50% cut) in Area Committee budgets to the Executive Member for Community Engagement and Rural Affairs for an explanation of why this differed from the proposal which went to Council in February 2016; (2) That Chris Lambert, a member of Radwell Village Hall Trustees be thanked for his presentation to the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to Radwell Village Hall be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 14 below); (3) That Joe Goude of the Stevenage Football Club Foundation be thanked for addressing the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to the Stevenage Football Club Foundation be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 15 below); (4) That Peter Greener of the Ashwell Village Museum be thanked for his presentation to the Baldock and District Museum and that the grant application relating to the Ashwell Village Museum be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 16 below); (5) That Robert Cusworth of the Rotary Club of Baldock be thanked for addressing the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to the Rotary Club of Baldock be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 17 below); (6) That Paul Luckett of the Baldock Town Twinning Association be thanked for his presentation to the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to the Baldock Town Twinning Association be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 18 below); (7) That Steve Holmes of Balstock be thanked for addressing the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to Balstock be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 19 below); (8) That Cara Richardson of Baldock Senior Club be thanked for her presentation to the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to the Baldock Senior Club be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 20 below); (9) That Mike Owen of the Weston Village Hall Committee be thanked for addressing the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to Weston Village Hall be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 21 below); (10) That the grant application relating to Rushden Village Hall be deferred to the next meeting of the Baldock and District Committee on Monday 5 September 2016; (11) That Chris Lunnon of Letchworth Garden City Rugby Football Club be thanked for his presentation to Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to Letchworth Garden City Rugby Football Club be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 22 below); (12) That Graham Tapps, of the Letchworth and District Gardeners Associations Green Shoots project, be thanked for addressing the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to the Letchworth District Gardeners Associations Green Shoots project be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 23 below); (13) That Rionach Aiken, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice North Herts, be thanked for addressing the Baldock and District Committee and that the grant application relating to the Citizens Advice North Herts be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 24 below).