Baldock and District Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday, 5th September, 2016
Time:
7.30pm
Place:
Baldock Community Centre, Simpson Drive, Baldock
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Jim McNally (Chairman), Councillor M.R.M. Muir (Vice-Chairman), Councillor Janine Paterson and Councillor M.E. Weeks.
In attendance:
Ashley Hawkins (Community Officer)
Susanne Gow (Committee and Member Services Officer)
Also Present:
Three members of the public, including the speaker at Public Participation.
Item Description/Decision
PART I
25 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
There were apologies for absence from Cllrs Steve Jarvis and Val Shanley.
26 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 6 June 2016 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.

Arising from the above Minutes, the Chairman highlighted Cllr Jarvis’s question regarding the reduction in Area Committee budgets - apparently much more than was agreed at Council in February. In essence, the difference was as a result of the agreed ring-fencing of major ‘District-wide’ MoUs, which remained in force. A paper prepared by the Strategic Director of Finance, Policy and Governance was circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. The cuts have resulted in considerably less funds being available for Baldock and area groups and organisations.
27 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There was no additional business raised at this Meeting of the Baldock and District Committee.
28 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1) The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting including the general public including the public speaker for Public Participation, Mike Taff and his wife Gill, and Albert. He also welcomed Members of the Committee and the Community Officer.

(2) He stated that members of the public could use their devices to film/photograph or make a sound recording of the meeting, but 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. Those present were informed that the meeting would be sound recorded.

(3) Members were then reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of the business set out in the agenda should be declared as either a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Declarable Interest and they are 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 revealing a Declarable Interest which requires them to leave the room under Paragraph 7.4 of the Code of Conduct, can speak on the item, but must leave the room before the debate and vote.

(4) 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.
29 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
Mike Taff, representing Ashwell Parish Church Rooms (PCR), addressed the Baldock and District Committee. He explained that the Parish Rooms had been built in the early 19th century and had been donated to Ashwell by the Fordham family. Nobody appeared to have the deeds to the building, but the Parish Rooms were administered by St Mary’s Church Parochial Church Council and Ashwell Parish Council. As the village Post Office had closed nearly two years ago, the building was used as a Post Office for three half-days per week. This was especially convenient for the elderly residents of Ashwell and a book swap system with mobile bookshelves had been set up to replace the village library. There was no charge made for these, nor for local charity groups using the building. The Parish Rooms were used extensively and regularly during the week and at weekends and due to lack of funds for internal redecoration, non-charitable organisations had to be charged £10/hour for their usage, to cover wear and tear. The building’s windows had been replaced and the exterior of the building redecorated three years ago, leaving no funds for internal redecoration or to purchase folding tables for the extensive use of the groups using this very well-located facility.

The Committee commented as follows: there is an 80% rebate available on Council Tax for community use for this facility. Mr Taff replied that he would inform the Treasurer of this in case he was unaware; the amount to be granted would come exclusively out of the Arbury Ward budget; the exact location of the Ashwell Parish Rooms was explained (right next to the Ashwell Village Museum); the Parish Council had a precept - adding on 1% per resident could raise a useful sum towards the upkeep of the Parish Rooms, especially as they were used extensively by so many Ashwell groups. The Chairman also proposed that, as budgets are currently shrinking, Mr Taff and the Treasurer meet with the Community Officer (CO) to investigate any funding streams which may be available and meet the criteria for funding the internal redecoration of the Parish Rooms. He reiterated that the Baldock and District Committee were financially constrained, but hopefully with the CO’s help a solution to the lack of funds required would be found.

The Chairman thanked Mr Taff for his presentation and informed him that THE grant application relating to this presentation would be considered later on in the Meeting.

RESOLVED:

(1) That Mike Taff, representing the Ashwell Parish Rooms be thanked for his presentation to the Baldock and District Committee;

(2) That the grant application relating to funding support for internal redecoration of the Ashwell Parish Rooms and the purchase of lightweight folding tables, be considered later on the Agenda (see Minute 32 below).
30 BALDOCK TOWN PARTNERSHIP UPDATE
No update was provided at this meeting, so Cllr Weeks, the NHDC representative for this organisation, informed the Committee that the Baldock Town Partnership no longer existed in its previous form. On behalf of the Baldock and District Committee, he would like to formally thank those who had given freely of their time and efforts over the past years to organise events for the residents of Baldock, especially James Lunnon and Fraser Valentine. Cllr Weeks informed the Committee that new volunteers would be helping to run the organisation and several events were in the process of being arranged.
31 GRANTS, AND COMMUNITY UPDATE

REPORT OF THE HEAD OF POLICY & COMMUNITY SERVICES

EXECUTIVE MEMBER FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND RURAL AFFAIRS: COUNCILLOR TONY HUNTER

The Community Officer (CO) introduced the report of the Head of Policy and Community Services and informed the Baldock and District Committee of changes implemented and activities carried out since the last Area Committee Meeting on 6 June 2016.

The CO took the Committee through the report and the budget spreadsheet, touching on the current level of funding for each Ward in the Area Committee’s 2016/2017 Grant Budget at para 7.3 as well as the current level of funding available within the Area Committee’s 2015/2016 Grant Budget at para 7.4.

Under the item at para 8.2.1 on Ashwell Parish Rooms, he confirmed that he will be investigating likely funding streams to help fund the redecoration of the facility, as had been proposed in Public Participation above.

The CO mentioned the 5th Balstock Community Music Festival, with which he had assisted and which was due to be held from 9-11 September 2016 and the Baldock Fair, commencing on 2-4 October, again in Baldock High Street.

A new event due to be held on 8 October 2016 was the Baldock Weight Watchers Charity Walk and the CO explained that he had been assisting with the organisation of this event which would start at the High Street towards Tapps Garden Centre and finish at Baldock High Street.

Another new event was the Ashwell Primary School Fun Run, on Saturday 18 September, on a 3km route and a 6km route, both from Ashwell Primary School.

Section 106 initiatives would be investigated to assist with the requirements of Ashwell Parish Council’s enhancements to the toilet blocks, and a venue for the Ashwell Academicals and enhancements at Weston Village Hall.

Under para 8.4 - Highways Matters - the Vice-Chairman informed the Committee that the imminent resurfacing of three roads in Baldock (Icknield Way, Football Close and the south end of Church Street) had been funded from his Herts County Council Locality Budget.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the activities and schemes with which the Community Officer (CO) has been involved, be noted;

(2) That the actions he has taken to promote greater community capacity and well-being for the Baldock and District area, be noted;

(3) That the CO and the Community Manager (CM) be thanked for their work on behalf of the people of Baldock and the surrounding area;

(4) That the budgetary expenditure, balances and carry forwards within the Area Committee Development Budget spreadsheet marked as Appendix 1, be noted.

REASONS FOR DECISIONS:

(1) To ensure that the Committee is kept informed of the work of the Community Officer (CO);

(2) To inform Members of the financial resources available to the Committee. The report draws attention to the current budgetary situation, assists in the effective financial management of the Area Committee’s budget and ensures actions are performed within the Authority’s Financial Regulations and the guidance in the Grants Policy.

(3) The awarding of financial assistance to voluntary organisations and the use of discretionary spending allows the Committee to further the aims and priorities of the Council;

(4) Production of this report is a requirement of the ‘Priorities for the District’ in which the Community Officer is required to produce a formal report to the Area Committee in line with the Civic Calendar.
32 GRANT APPLICATION - ASHWELL PARISH ROOMS
RESOLVED: That the sum of £300 from the Arbury Ward budget be awarded to the Ashwell Parish Rooms to assist with funding internal redecoration and the purchase of folding tables which can be easily stored away to maximise the usable space for the organisations and groups that regularly use this facility.

REASON FOR DECISION:

(1) The awarding of financial assistance to voluntary organisations and the use of discretionary spending allows the Committee to further the aims and strategic priorities of the Council;

(2) The allocation of funds will improve the services provided by local organisations and groups that are available and accessed by members of the community.
Published on Tuesday, 27th September, 2016
7.59p.m