Parish Council Meeting Minutes
MEETING OF CHOLMONDELEY & CHORLEY PARISH COUNCIL HELD AT SCHOOL FARM, CHOLMONDELEY ON 21 JULY 2020
(THE MEETING WAS HELD VIA VIDEO-LINK IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATIONS INTRODUCED UNDER THE CORONAVIRUS ACT 2020)
|PRESENT:||Councillor A D Fennell (In the Chair)|
Councillor C Baker
Councillor C Farquharson
Councillor C Nickson
Councillor C Crossley
Councillor A Gresty
Councillor P Probin
|APOLOGIES:||Councillor C Hopley|
Councillor R Keyes
|Councillor S Langton|
84 DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
Members were asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary interest, personal interest or non- pecuniary interest which they had in any item of business on the agenda, the nature of that interest, and in respect of disclosable interests, to leave the meeting prior to the discussion of that item.
No declarations were made.
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 June 2020 be approved as a correct record.
S.85 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 (DISQUALIFICATION THROUGH NON-ATTENDANCE)
Members were reminded that although the Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced new regulations governing town and parish council meetings, the ‘six month rule’ still applied
Under S.85 of the Local Government Act 1972, a Councillor who had failed to attend consecutive meetings for a period of six months, without having first submitted his/her reasons for absence to the Parish Council, and those reasons had been accepted, the councillor was automatically disqualified.
Although apologies were usually tendered at each meeting, they are were received without comment. It was prolonged absence which required specific consideration by the Parish Council prior to the expiry of the six-month period; for example, a councillor who was aware that they would be unable to attend a meeting for six months, must, by the fifth month, have submitted his/her reasons for the prolonged absence so that this could be considered and approved by the Parish Council at that fifth meeting.
Attendance as a member at a meeting of any Committee or Sub-Committee of the authority, or at a meeting of any joint Committee, joint Board or other body, by which the functions of the authority were being discharged, was deemed to be attendance at a meeting of the authority.
87 COVID-19: REGULATIONS FOR TOWN AND PARISH COUNCILS – UPDATE
The following up-dated guidance had been issued by the National Association of Local Councils, based on Government guidance.
87.1 Re-opening of Multi-purpose Community Buildings
Although this did not apply in Cholmondeley & Chorley, the Government guidance note issued may was for information only and may be of interest to Members.
87.2 Continuation of Remote Council Meetings
The latest advice from the National Association of Local Councils was that where a local council had an identified a need to hold a physical meeting, as it was unable to conduct Council business in any other way, they could consider doing so from 4 July 2020.
These meetings must be managed within social distancing and safer workplaces guidance produced by the government, which included the requirement to conduct a risk assessment to determine if it was feasible and safe to hold a physical meeting.
It was important that this risk assessment was carried out and any identified actions to reduce risk to attendees were implemented before any face-to-face meetings resumed. Councils must keep documentation of this risk assessment and the reasons why the Council had taken the decision to return to face-to-face meetings.
The Clerk emphasised that as the Council had an alternative to a physical meeting (i.e. via Zoom) there was no need to revert to face-to-face meetings.
88 ANNUAL ACCOUNTS – 2019-2020
88.1 Internal Audit – JDH Business Services Ltd.
The accounts had now been received following the internal audit and the Internal Auditor’s report was submitted.
On the basis of the internal audit work carried out, the Internal Auditor’s view was that the Council’s system of internal controls in place was adequate for the purpose intended, and effective.
The recommendations in the action plan were as follows:
- Ensure that there was proper provision for the exercise of public rights. This was not carried out in 2019-2020.
- There was an outstanding issue from 2018/2019, namely monitoring the level of reserves from year to year to ensure that excessive reserves were not carried forward. [The Local Government Finance Act 1992 required that a Council holds reserves equating to expenditure for the first quarter of a financial year to cover such expenditure until the precept is paid into the Council’s account.]
88.2 AGAR and Exercise of Public Rights to Inspect the Accounts
The full AGAR, which was approved at the meeting held on 9 June 2020 would require a signature by the Chairman. As this must be a wet signature, the AGAR would be posted to the Chairman for signing and return to the Clerk.
The notice of the exercise of public rights to inspect the accounts would be published on the Council’s website.
88.3 Review of the Effectiveness of Internal Audit
The Parish Council reviewed the effectiveness of the internal audit process using page 1 of the Internal Auditor’s report as the checklist against which the process should be judged.
The Internal Auditor’s report shows that a robust audit has been carried out and the Parish Council was recommended to accept that the audit had been effective, and all requirements had been met.
RESOLVED: That the Parish Council agree that the internal audit process for 2019-2020 was effective.
89 AUTHORISATION OF PAYMENTS
RESOLVED: That the following payments be authorised:
|£40.00||HMRC – Tax on Clerk’s salary|
|£142.80||JDH Business Services Ltd. – Internal audit 2019-20 (£119.00 net; £23.80 VAT)|
|£82.44||Cheshire Association of Local Councils – Affiliation Fee|
|£35.00||Cheshire Association of Local Councils – Inv. 2019/483 Outstanding invoice for Chairmanship training.|
90.1 Councillors Chris Baker and Chris Nickson reported on draft changes made to the website. to report on the draft changes made to the website. The Parish Council will be asked to approve the changes for implementation.
Members were asked to view the website for themselves to identify any missing content.
90.2 Website Accessibility – The Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018).
Local councils were expected to comply with the new website accessibility regulations by 23 September 2020, or at least have a plan of action in place.
The Parish Council received the following documents in respect of website accessibility.
- NALC Guidance on the regulations.
- Government guidance on compliance.
- Exemplar of an Accessibility Statement, as recommended in the NALC guidance.
As the deadline date was 23 September 2020, the Clerk suggested that it may be helpful to set up a small Committee which would have delegated powers to make decisions about how the website could comply with the regulations in a timely manner. No decision was taken.
Councillors Baker and Nickson reported on their review of the website and had identified content which would not comply with the regulations. Moreover, as the website had been created using WordPress, the changes required would be difficult to achieve and it was suggested that a new website be created using a different hosting company, but with the Parish Council retaining its domain name (cholmondeley-chorley.co.uk).
Councillor Baker reported that a Neighbourhood Plan tab had now been added to the website, together with a link to various Cheshire East Council services both informative and interactive.
RESOLVED: (a) That the proposed changes to the website, as outlined by Councillors Baker and Nickson, continue to be discussed by the Parish Council; and
(b) That Councillors Baker and Nickson continue their work and submit proposals for, potentially, the creation of a new website; and
(c) That the Clerk contact Coderra Ltd. with a view to establishing if the Parish Council could withdraw from its contract with Coderra without penalty.
91 BOROUGH COUNCILLOR W S DAVIES
Borough Councillor Stan Davies was not in attendance.
92 APPOINTMENT TO WRENBURY CONSOLIDATED CHARITY
Roger Blake, the former Trustee on the Wrenbury Consildated Charity, had moved out of the area and was no longer able to represent the parish.
The Parish Council was asked to nominate another trustee to enable the charity to administer its funds. The appointment was for four-years.
The Charity distributed £10,000 a year in the way of ‘doles’ and it gave to churches, chapels and schools in the six parishes. The charity also supported people attending university and those who were studying by way of an apprenticeship.
RESOLVED: That the Clerk contact the Secretary of the Wrenbury Consolidated Charity for more information about eligible candidates.
93 DISTRIBUTION OF SELECTMARK KITS
At the previous meeting, this item had been briefly discussed but no decision was made about the distribution of the kits to households.
The pandemic (and lockdown) had stalled the process. Members discussed various methods of distribution of the kits. It was agreed that the process should be dealt with ‘as a whole’ rather than piecemeal and a plan of action was suggested for the end of September 2020.
Councillor Nickson was thanked for his offer to drive around the parish to identify suitable locations for the display of signage which would be installed once the kits had been provided to households.
94 INFORMATION ITEMS
(A) Police and Crime Commissioner Stakeholder Update
The Parish Council received a copy of the July update from the Police & Crime Commissioner.
(B) CEC Strategic Planning Update
The Parish Council received a copy of Cheshire East Council’s Strategic Planning Update, dated June 2020.
(C) Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
Cheshire East Council was currently carrying out a general consultation on a number of its Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) and was not specifically consulting local councils. Members will be able to comment as individuals. The consultation would close on 10 August 2020.
Full details of the process and the documents are available by clicking the link
95 SHARED ITEMS
Parish Councillors were able to share information which did not require a decision. The following was raised.
➢ Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group – Meeting held 21 July 2020
Councillor Farquharson gave a brief summary of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group meeting held earlier in the evening.
96 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Tuesday, 8 September 2020.1
1Subsequently re-arranged to Wednesday, 16 September 2020