BRIGHTLINGSEA TOWN COUNCIL

FINANCE & PROPERTY COMMITTEE

Minutes of the on-line Finance & Property Meeting held on

Monday 13th July 2020 at 10.30 a.m.

Present:

Councillors

J Carr (Chairman) (from 10.32am – 10.45am)

J Chapman (Vice Chairman)

M Barry, G Chasney,

J Howard  and B Smith

Also in Attendance:

Councillor G Steady

Tracey Pulford – Town Clerk/RFO

Terry Hamilton – Grounds Manager (from 11.33am – 11.53am)

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting, and advised that due to his poor internet connection, Councillor Chapman would be chairing the meeting.

F.010 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:  None received..

F.011   CONFIRMATION OF THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON THE 15TH JUNE 2020, RECEIVED BY COUNCIL ON THE 18TH JUNE 2020:

The Minutes were accepted as a true record.

F.012 DECLARATION OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS:

Members were reminded of the requirement to disclose any interest in relation to items on the agenda, when these are discussed.

F.013 INTERNAL AUDIT REPORT 2019/2020:

A copy of the Internal Auditor Report 2020 had been circulated to all members.  The following items were discussed:-

C. The council assessed the significant risks to achieving its objectives and

reviewed the adequacy of arrangements to manage these. 

Recommendation – Review risks and insurance cover by the 2 parties involved in

the operation of the Lido.

Councillor Barry declared an interest in the Lido, and then  informed members that

the Council has a lease, and is the landlord, but the insurance cover for the

operational issues is down to the CIO and the insurance for the buildings is covered

by Tendring District Council, as part of their lease.  He said that a copy of the

lido report and  accounts will be made available to the Town Council, to be annexed

to the Council accounts.

Councillor Smith asked whether the Internal Auditor is aware of the current situation

regarding the Harbour Commissioners?  The Clerk advised that he is aware of the

situation.  Councillor Chapman advised members that the Harbour Commissioners

send in a copy of their accounts, for the Hard/Jetty, and this forms an appendix to the

Town Council accounts.

Councillor Carr left the meeting at 10.45am, as his internet connection had been lost.

Councillor Steady spoke about the audit findings, where the External Auditor did

draw the Council’s attention to its failure to provide evidence of consideration of risk

management arrangements by the whole authority during 2018/2019.  He asked if clarification could be sought from the External Auditor, on the meaning of this.

D. The annual precept requirement resulted from an adequate budgetary process;

progress against the budget was regularly monitored; and reserves were

appropriate.

Opinion: It is essential that the new arrangements for car parking income and the flood claims insurers are closely monitored during 2020/2021 to ensure adequate funding an no further reduction to reserves. 

Councillor Chapman stated that the Council is aware that the car park agreement is in the process of being updated.

E. Expected income was fully received, based on correct prices, properly recorded and promptly banked; and VAT appropriately accounted for.

Opinion: An examination of the 2020 annual return shows that the total other receipts increased by £50,905 of which £47,018 relates to increased swimming pool income and £23,197 relates to increased car parking income.  In other words, excluding the car park and swimming pool transactions other receipts have reduced by £19,310 year on year.

Councillor Chapman said that this reduction of income needs to be looked into.

G. Salaries to employees and allowances to members were paid in accordance with council approvals, and PAYE and NI requirements were properly applied.

Opinion: The current arrangements, including the annual independent review by the internal auditor, are normally adequate and effective but the office cleaning issue needs attention.

Councillor Chapman asked the Town Clerk what this meant.  The Clerk replied that the payment to the cleaner, was below the minimum wage and needed looking at.  Councillor Chapman replied that this would be taken to the next Staff meeting, together with staff contracts, for review.

It was then proposed by Councillor Barry, seconded by Councillor Howard  that the recommendations in the report are adopted as written, making note of the above comments.  Agreed

Recommendation: The recommendations in the Internal Audit Report 2020 are adopted as written, making note of the above comments.

F.014 RISK ASSESSMENT 2019/2020:

A copy of the Risk Assessment for 2019/2020 had been circulated to all members.  The following items were discussed:-

Item 4 – Breaking the law or being sued – Councillor Barry asked if the Council were clear about their responsibilities and liabilities in respect to compliance with Covid-19 guidance?  He asked if the Council was obliged to provide any cleaning facilities for council properties, i.e. Parish Hall?  Are there any legal requirements?  What about the Playground on the Rec or Pawsons Playground.?

The Clerk replied that the Grounds Manager was looking into obtaining cleaning products for cleaning the playground apparatus, however it is down to the individual to use antibacterial gel.  Signs are being put in place to advise only one family to use the equipment at any one time, and to use antibacterial gel after use.  Regarding the Parish Hall a hand sanitizer dispenser has been ordered, a screen has been installed on the reception desk, and intercom system is being looked at for the front door.  A discussion took place.

It was then proposed by Councillor Smith, seconded by Councillor Barry that Risk Assessment for 2019/2020 is accepted and signed off at the Council Meeting on the 16th July 2020.  Agreed

Recommendation: The Risk Assessment for 2019/2020 is accepted and signed off at the Council Meeting on the 16th July 2020.

F.015 ASSET REGISTER 2019/2020:

A copy of the Asset Register for 2019/2020 had been circulated to all members.  Councillor Steady mentioned that a valuation of property had been discussed before, but this was to be an expensive exercise.  This was to be looked at again.  It was also agreed that, as stated in the Risk Assessment Report, the Councils current insurance company be invited to attend a meeting to discuss the insurance policy for 2020/2021.  A discussion took place.

It was then proposed by Councillor Howard, seconded by Councillor Barry that Asset Register for 2019/2020 be accepted, and the value of £2,578,751 would form part of the AGAR Figures.  Agreed

Recommendation: The Asset Register for 2019/2020 be accepted, and the value of £2,578,751 would form part of the AGAR Figures.

F.016 END OF YEAR ACCOUNTS 2019/2020:

A copy of the Annual Financial Report and Year End Accounts for 2019/2020 had been circulated to all members.  The following was discussed:-

Councillor Barry declared an interest in the Lido, and mentioned:

Recommendation 6 – Lido – The project is reviewed and formal arrangements are agreed for the management of the project on an on going basis. 

He said the finances are clear, operational costs is an internal matter, and forms part of the obligation under the lease.  He said that all capital expenditure is discussed and agreed, and that all formal arrangements have been reviewed.  A discussion took place.

It was then proposed by Councillor Smith, seconded by Councillor Chasney  that:- (1)  The Annual Financial Report is  agreed by all present, and the recommendations made in that report were noted; (2) The Year End Accounts are agreed and signed off at the Council Meeting on the 16th July 2020.  Agreed

Recommendation:  (1)  The Annual Financial Report was  agreed by all present, and the recommendations made in that report were noted; (2) The Year End Accounts are agreed and signed off at the Council Meeting on the 16th July 2020.

F.017 ANNUAL GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY RETURN (AGAR) 2019-2020 – ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT:

Members went through Section 1 of the Annual Governance Statement and answered questions 1-9 as follows:-.

Yes

No

N/A

1

We have put in place arrangements for effective financial management during the year and for the preparation of the accounting systems.

2

We maintained an adequate system of internal control including measures designed to prevent and detect fraud and corruption and reviewed its effectiveness.

3

We took all reasonable steps to assure ourselves that there are no matters of actual or potential non-compliance with laws, regulations and Proper Practices that could have a significant financial effect on the ability of this authority to conduct its business or manage its finances.

4

We provided proper opportunity during the year for the exercise of electors’ rights in accordance with the requirements of the Accounts and Audit Regulations.

5

We carried out an assessment of the risks facing this authority and took appropriate steps to manage those risks, including the introduction of internal controls and/or external insurance cover where required.

6

We maintained throughout the year an adequate and effective system of internal audit of the accounting records and control systems.

7

We took appropriate action on all matters raised in reports from internal and external audit.

8

We considered whether any litigation, liabilities or commitments, events or transactions, occurring either during or after the year-end, have a financial impact on this authority and, where appropriate, have included them in the accounting systems.

9

(For local councils only) Trust funds including charitable.  In our capacity as the sole managing trustee we discharged our accountability responsibilities for the fund(s) assets, including financial reporting and, if required, independent examination or audit.

This was agreed.

Recommendation: Section 1 of the Annual Governance Statement is completed as follows:- questions 1-8 yes; question 9 N/A.

F.018 ANNUAL GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY RETURN (AGAR) 2019/2020 – ACCOUNTING STATEMENTS:

A copy of the figures for Section 2 of the AGAR  had been circulated to all members.

Councillor Barry proposed that the figures are accepted, as written.  Seconded by Councillor Howard.  Agreed.

Recommendation: The figures in Section 2 of the AGAR are agreed, as written.

F.019 APPOINTMENT OF INTERNAL AUDITOR FOR 2020/2021:

The re-appointment of Maurice Howard as the Council’s Internal Auditor for the year 2020/2021 was proposed by Councillor Smith, seconded by Councillor Chasney.  Agreed.

Recommendation: Maurice Howard is re-appointed as the Council’s Internal Auditor for the year 2020/2021.

F.020 PAYMENT OF MEMBERS ALLOWANCES:

Councillor Steady briefed members that members allowances have not been increased since 2007-2008, and during this time we have only had two councillors resign.  The Clerk informed members that the decision to pay members allowances in the March of that financial year, was only made at a Finance meeting held on the 6th February, and under Standing Order 7 you cannot reverse that decision for six months.  Councillor Smith made a recommendation that those members, who, for whatever reason, resign during the year pay back any allowance, on a pro-rota basis.  After discussion it was agreed that this  item will be referred to another meeting, once the six month rule has passed.

Terry Hamilton – Grounds Manager joined the meeting at 11.33am, to answer technical questions on the following item:

F.021 UPDATE ON INSURANCE CLAIM RE: CCTV:

Councillor Howard briefed members on the CCTV insurance claims and the preferred quotation.  Questions were asked to Terry Hamilton, which answers were given.

After much discussion Councillor Barry proposed that we accept the quotation from Homeview Surveillance, and try to get the insurance money as offered.  He said that whilst proceeding with the quotation from Homeview Surveillance, we ask them to submit a quotation to upgrade the system at the Bayard Rec, and include possible cameras at the Lozenge, so we have a holistic system which covers all our areas, linked in and under one maintenance contract.  Seconded by Councillor Howard.  Agreed.

F.022 CLOSE OF MEETING:

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 11.57 a.m.

Received by Council on:  16.07.20 Approved by Committee on:

Signedby ChairmanSigned by Chairman

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