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PC reply to Communications & outstanding questions

Posted on 17th February, 2013

From: "Bruce Poole"

Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2013 10:12:37 -0000

To: Jo

Subject: RE: BPC - Communications and outstanding questions

 

Dear Both

 

If as you say my previous response does not conclude matters you only need to be specific in what you seek and I am sure the Parish Council will be happy to respond.

 

I find it somewhat disingenuous for you to suggest that Parish Council is not fully transparent in its communications with its residents. It has always strived to do so generally may I say against a backdrop of disinterest and apathy.

 

As to any forthcoming elections I hope you will explain to anyone that asks that if they are contested the process will come at a cost to the parish whereas the two forthcoming vacancies could have been filled by the casual vacancy process at no cost to the parish.

 

Bruce

 

Bruce Poole BA(Hons); Fellow ILCM; MMC

Bleadon Parish Council

Clerk to the Parish

Rooftops

10 South Street

Burnham-on-Sea

Somerset TA8 1BS

 

Tel: 07887802922

E-Mail: parishclerk@bleadonparishcouncil.gov.uk

Web Site: www.bleadonparishcouncil.gov.uk

 

 

From: Jo

Sent: 11 March 2013 05:53

To: Bruce Poole

Subject: Re: BPC - Communications and outstanding questions

 

Dear Bruce,

 

I'm afraid that your response does not conclude matters and in due course we will still require more detailed answers to several of them. We all appreciate the apparent shortage of time in everyones hectic schedules these days which is why we continue to request for more detailed and transparent communications between the parish council and local residents, especially with regards to minutes. Perhaps the outstanding answers to our questions will come through future agenda items and associated detailed minutes if not directly from you.

 

We whole heartedly welcome the up and coming local election(s) in the hope that the successful candidate(s) can help prioritise and facilitate more communicative interactions with the electorate thereby requiring less requests for clarification of actions and issues. After all, what could be ''more pressing'' as you put it, than Councillors ensuring that their electors are well informed and content with the Parish Councils work?

 

Kind regards,

 

Jo and Chris

 

From: Bruce Poole
To: Jo
Sent: Friday, 15 February 2013, 5:02
Subject: BPC - Communications and outstanding questions
 
Dear Jo
 
Further to your e-mail of the 13th February 2013.
 
Firstly can the Parish Council please correct any misunderstandings that you might have in how the Parish Council operates. It is governed by legislation and statute the main legislation being the Local Government Act 1972. It is this act which sets down exactly how a Parish Council which in law is an incorporated body has to conduct its business affairs. It is not therefore guide lines as suggested by you. Secondly all matters relating to the Parish Council that are brought to the attention of the Clerk  are also brought to the attention of the members.
 
1.       Agendae & Minutes
As has intimated on previous occasions the circulation of the meeting agenda and the specific business to be transacted is dictated by the LGA 1972 – Sch 12 paras 10(2) and 26 (2)(a). Whilst it is accepted that we are in a digital age the strictures of the 1972 Act in this respect has not as yet been repealed.
 
The Parish Council is very much aware of the problems created by only publishing confirmed minutes and has  agreed to consider a resolution at the March Council Meeting that Draft Minutes should be posted on the Website. The reason why it has not done so for some years now in the past is because a member of the public took the draft minutes as fact acted upon them and then consequently discovered the draft minutes were found to include an error.
2.       Conferences
The Parish Council has decided to rename this cost centre for 2013/14 as the word might be slightly misleading. The Parish Clerk is contracted to attend two conferences/training activities a year which is part of his annual CPD (continuous professional development) commitment. Parish Councillors are encouraged to attend these training events in order to keep them abreast of updated legislation and changing demands in the local government sector.
 
These events are in the main spear headed by NALC (National Association of Local Councils) and SLCC (Society of Local Council Clerks). BOB note: and a direct cost of QC scheme
 
3.       Financial Analysis
Please find attached. Please also note that this document does not reflect the final outcome as clearly there is more expenditure to include and virements to be carried out.
 
4.       Best Value
The Parish Council is totally at the mercy as to what actions the local District Council takes in this regard and your questions in this respect should be addressed to your local District Councillors and Member of Parliament. BOB note: Click previous link for reply from MP
 
Whenever a service is past down and assumed by the Parish Council it will as it always does is to proceed by the dictates in financial matters as set down in its Standing Orders and the good governance of the current audit regulations.
 
5.       Precepts
The task of comparing/benchmarking with other parish councils is simply not practicable nor frankly achievable. Populations differ – services that are sought and/or provided differ as does the aspirations of its residents. Members are surprised that you have had to ask the question “what tangible benefits……” as they are of the view that the benefits are readily available for all to see! BOB note: really?
 
6.       Quality Council Status
The members are of the view that the cost of training of its clerk is mitigated by the professional service he is able and does offer. Clearly you have drawn the wrong conclusions regarding “approved SLCC Contractors” as there are none.   Contracts of employment are a matter of law prescribed by both the NALC & SLCC.  The present clerk is not pensionable although the law on pensions is about to change. The present clerk by law is permitted to receive  an expected gratuity of £3,500 which is not in the member’s opinion adequate recompense for some 24 years continuous service. Time prevents the writer from researching the information that you seek in respect to cost to the Parish Council. These are highlighted each year both in the Parish Magazine the village web site and by presentations given at both the Annual Parish Meeting (April) and the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council (March). (BOB note: see links above and make up your own mind - but cost is clearly more than an application fee as previously stated by the clerk)
 
Quality Parish Council Status was in concept a good benchmark and one that Bleadon Parish Council fully supported. One of the set backs to the scheme was the sudden withdrawal after a year of additional funding from central government. If and when the scheme is re-launched after due consultation the Parish Council will as it does on all occasions review its position as to whether or not it seeks re-accreditation.
 
7.       Neighbourhood/Village/Action Plan
The proposed revisiting of the plan is an exercise to ensure that its outcomes are reflected in the subsequent proposals that may emanate from the proposed development of the Marshalls Quarry Site.
 
The document to which you refer was made available to all residents at the time the Village Plan was published. A further copy is attached. (BOB note: see links and make up your own mind - last updated 2009 when re-accredited and certainly not published annualy)
 
8.       Relationships
With respect to the Coronation and Jubilee Halls the Parish Council in its capacity as an incorporated body is the custodial trustees and as such has no financial obligations other than granting any grants that it might be asked for. its major financial obligation is to insure the buildings.
 
With respect to the Church the parish council has a financial obligation of paying an annual sum to the Church in respect to the clock and an annual donation towards the lighting. As the churchyard in legal terms is a closed churchyard the parish council is obligated to its general upkeep and repair.
 
9.       Technology
North Somerset is progressing towards a paperless operation especially in terms of planning applications. The Parish Council took the step of introducing IT equipment into the halls some of which emanated from grants from North Somerset in order to be transparent with the public in respect in the main when discussing planning applications. That IT equipment is deemed to be a benefit for all other hall users. IT support for the parish web site and its financial governance requirements is provided by CRM and VSM. This latter step was done as a result of a process the Parish Council undertook when it introduced an exit policy for its main employee. The financial outcomes are reflected in the attached Budget document. The Parish Clerk has spent an inordinate amount of time far beyond his normal working hours in endeavouring to obtain a satisfactory broadband installation and when it is concluded it will become another beneficial asset to the Halls and its users.
 
10.   Toilets
Part of the negotiations with North Somerset has been to ensure that the Parish Council is not linked into any claw back situations so that if and when the building is no longer used in its present form the Parish Council of the day will be able to put it to an alternative use whatever that might be. The current aspiration is that it would make a very suitable Parish Council Office. The detail in respect to the future maintenance of this asset is still on going.
 
11.   Goal Posts
This matter is still under discussion and as such final decisions have as yet to be made.
 
12.   Grass Cutting
The present relationship is a contractual one and its present three year appointment ends in March 2014. As with all major contracts the Parish Council in accordance with its standing orders will seek three quotations. However it should be stressed that despite going through this due process the Parish Council invariably only receives one or two responses.
 
The Parish Council has asked that it is pointed out that your recent correspondence has been fairly lengthy to say the least and as a result you will know how much personal time it has taken to scribe. In order to provide you with answers it has taken the writer an equal if not more amount of time at a time in the council calendar when there are more pressing matters to deal with – especially in the 13 hours a week devoted to Bleadon Parish Council work. This is not to say that the Parish Council does not wish to respond to parishioners questions but it does for the sake of the clerk’s working hours need to prioritise the work commitment. It is hoped that this lengthy response concludes matters.
 
B Poole
 
Bruce Poole BA(Hons);  Fellow ILCM; MMC
Bleadon Parish Council
Clerk to the Parish
Rooftops
10 South Street
Burnham-on-Sea
Somerset TA8 1BS
 
Tel:                07887802922

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