Southern Rural Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday, 10th October, 2016
Time:
7:30 p.m.
Place:
Committee Room 1, District Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City SG6 3JF
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor D.J. Barnard (Chairman), Councillor Cathryn Henry (Vice-Chairman), Councillor John Bishop, Councillor Steve Deakin - Davies, Councillor Faye S Frost, Councillor Steve Hemingway, Councillor Harry Spencer - Smith, Councillor Mrs C.P.A. Strong and Councillor Terry Tyler.
In attendance:
Stuart Izzard (Communities Manager) and Hilary Dineen (Committee and Member Services Officer).
Also Present:
Councillor Lynda Needham (Leader of the Council).
Item Description/Decision
PART I
28 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jane Gray.
29 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 June 2016 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.
30 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
There were no notifications of other business.
31 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1) The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting

(2) The Chairman reminded everyone that, in accordance with Council policy, the meeting was being audio recorded;

(3) Members were reminded 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 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 declaring a Declarable Interest which requires they 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.
32 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There was no public participation.
33 COMMUNITY UPDATE AND GRANT APPLICATIONS
The Communities Manager presented the report of the Head of Policy and Community Services entitled Community Update and Grant Applications and drew attention to the following:

NEW GRANTS POLICY CRITERIA
The Communities Manager tabled a synopsis of the criteria relating to the new Grants Policy and advised that were significantly less grant applications being made as the Authority was now focussing funding.

Members could still promote Area Committee grant funding to local organisations as there were still two meetings of this Committee in this Civic Year.

FUNDING STREAMS
The Communities Manager advised that, if a group was found to be not eligible to apply for Area Committee funding, the Communities Officers would continue to work with them to signpost to or look for other funding sources.

Much of the Communities Officer work was about finding external funding sources and unlocking Section 106 funding.

Members discussed the eligibility criteria and some concern was expressed that Neighbourhood Plan groups were eligible, as there were a great many Parishes in North Herts, which could result in a large commitment to fund these groups.

Concern was also expressed at the need for community groups to be available to all of the community, as this would exclude many groups such as the Girl Guides or groups for older people, which had a membership that was either age or gender restricted and that this should be re-worded.

The Communities Manager advised that there was external funding available for Neighbourhood Plan groups. In respect of being available to all of the Community, this related to clubs and organisations that should be available to all such as tennis clubs, not to clubs for a specific purpose.

Members asked for clarification regarding what additional benefits may be considered in future when considering a grant application.

The Communities Manager advised that the Authority could give clubs and societies a range of additional benefits which could include discretionary rate relief or low rent and these details would be included in future grant applications presented to the Committee.

SECTION 106 FUNDING
The Communities Manager drew attention to Paragraph 8.4 of the report which gave details of the groups and Parish Councils currently being offered support and advice regarding potential Section 106 funding for projects.

The Communities Team visited Parish Councils to support them to identify projects that would qualify for Section 106 funding.

There was some discussion regarding the technical differences between Section 106 and Unilateral Undertakings.

The Communities Manager explained the process that the Planning Department followed in order to secure contributions and that followed by the Communities Team to enable contributions to be spent on a project.

He advised that, even if Parish Councils were against a particular development, it was important that they still consider capital projects and needs with that area. It was more difficult to get Section 106 funding agreed, but was more probable if specific projects, that could be funded by this method, had previously been identified and justified and the Communities Team were supporting this process.

Neighbourhood and Parish Plans were helpful in securing contributions and this Committee had, in the past, helped to fund the development of these.

The Committee and Member Services Officer advised that the Development and Conservation Manager was due to present a report on the subject to the next meeting of this Committee.

Members debated that Members should be encouraging Parish Councils to identify projects at an early stage of any potential development, whether or not they were in favour of that development and not doing so would likely result in little benefit for the Parish if the development were granted.

BUDGETS
The Communities Manager reminded Members that the Area Committee budgets had reduced significantly this year. He advised that the Ward budgets had been reinstated therefore the current Discretionary Budget was £8,606 and Ward Budgets were £5,000.

Members queried whether the suggested simplified process for Ward budgets had been accepted by Cabinet.

The Communities Manager advised that the process had not change, but the application form was simple. They were encouraging on-line applications in order to reduce the amount of paperwork.

COMMUNITY FACILITIES GRANT FUNDING
The Communities Manager advised Members that a £1 million Capital funding scheme was about to be launched. A cross Party Panel will consider any applications to recommend for funding.

This was another way in which NHDC was supporting community facilities.

Members warned that less self starting communities, may not benefit as much as those with expected development and therefore Section 106 funding and asked whether this would be considered.

The Communities Manager advised that applications would be considered from across the District and that consideration would be given to any other sources of funding available, such as Section 106. This again reinforced the message that Parish Councils must identify capital projects for which Section 106 funding could be claimed, Even if they were against the development.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the activities and schemes with which the Communities Manager has been involved with, as set out in the report, be noted;

(2) That the budgetary expenditure, balances and carry forwards within the Area Committee Development Budget spreadsheet, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Southern Rural Committee is kept informed of the work of the Communities Manager and to inform Members of the financial resources and current budgetary position.
34 CHESFIELD WARD GRANT APPLICATION - WYMONDLEY VILLAGE DAY
The Communities Manager advised that this grant application had been requested and agreed by the Ward Councillor prior to the introduction of the new grants criteria and was to be taken from the 2015/16 budget.

RESOLVED: That grant funding of £100 be awarded to Wymondley Village Day from the 2015/16 Chesfield Ward Budget towards the costs associated with running the event.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community.
35 CADWELL WARD GRANT APPLICATION - HOLWELL VILLAGE NOTICE BOARDS
The Communities Manager advised that this grant application had been requested and agreed by the Ward Councillor prior to the introduction of the new grants criteria and was to be taken from the 2015/16 budget.

RESOLVED: That grant funding of £200 be awarded to Holwell Parish Council from the 2015/16 Cadwell Ward Budget towards the cost of providing new village notice boards in Holwell.

REASON FOR DECISION: To improve services provided by local organisations and groups which are accessed by the community
36 WARD AND OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS - MEMBERS’ REPORTS
The Chairman reminded Members to talk to their County Councillor as they had funds available, by way of their Locality Budget, to spend on community projects.

They could also help with highways issues such as filling of potholes.
37 FUTURE MEETINGS OF THE COMMITTEE
The Chairman suggested that the December meeting be held in Hitchin Town Hall and that past grant recipients be invited to attend

The Committee and Member Services Officer advised that whilst the District Council Offices were being refurbished, Hitchin Town Hall would be used for most Committee meetings.
Published on Thursday, 3rd November, 2016
8.35p.m