Draft Minutes of the Finance and Governance Sub Committee of the Parrett Board Meeting held at
1 Church Street, Highbridge on Tuesday 5th November 2013 at 2.15pm
1. Attendance and Apologies: (appended).
2. Items additional to agenda: None.
3. Declarations of interest: None.
4. Minutes of the meeting held on 17th September 2013: (appended) N Stevens (NWS) asked if the meeting notes of the decision to pay Alletsons account to be attached to minutes. All in favour.
5. Matters Arising: I Sturdy advised that no contact has been made to date between the Environment Agency (EA) and the Dutch contractors over their possible involvement in Parrett Dredging. P Maltby to raise the issue with EA at the liaison meeting on Monday 11th November 2013. C Passmore asked about the purchase of Bradbury House; NWS advised that it has been purchased by the Axe Brue Board at a cost of £225,000 with about £150,000 to be spent on improvement works; all this is being funded by the Axe Brue Board. The sale of present property for £175,000 is progressing but contracts have yet to be exchanged.
6. Update of changes at the Environment Agency: NWS reported that the EA has to reduce its staff by 15% and also work with a reduced budget.
7. Update on the Agreement with North Somerset Levels IDB on the provision of Engineering Services: NWS reported Giles Oliver is spending 2 days a week, 1 day with the existing engineer and 1 day with the other staff. No agreement is signed yet although members are aware of the situation and providing an engineering service to North Somerset will be of benefit to both organisations.
8. Review the number of meetings of the Finance and Governance Sub Committee: Proposed: T Bradford, Seconded: M Young “meetings were to be kept to the same number”. All in favour. RESOLVED
9. Budgets Ref. 8 – Drainage rates – current position: Outstanding rates are £6413.87 which is much reduced from £19K that existed before summonses were issued. P Maltby asked if we could liaise with Sedgemoor District Council to see if Liability Orders for costs only were acceptable. It was agreed to ask rate payers with minimal amount of rates to pay eg (under £5) to pay £20 on account so that the minimal amounts do not remain outstanding. P Maltby said a good idea if it is legal.
Ref. 9 & 10 – Consider the outline budgets and rate setting for 2014/15 (enc): S Gee presented 2 budgets for 2014/15. Version 1 represented a deficit of £111,000 if things remained the same. Version 2 represented a deficit of £95,000 with a proposed increase of 1.99%. The loss of interest on a fixed bond which matures at the end of April 2014 will be significant. S Gee has worked on the assumption that the EA precept will be the same, although the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) had yet to consider the matter. NWS was asked to investigate if there were any areas around Hinkley Point where the land rating classifications were incorrect. I Dyer advised the Board that they will need to have a radical look at outgoings for next financial year as savings had to be made in line with other public bodies such as Sedgemoor D C, as funding will only get tighter in the future. P Maltby advised we have to look at savings but must not cut the maintenance budget. Proposed: P Maltby, Seconded: T Bradford “For an increase of 1.99%”. All in favour RESOLVED
Consider the rating designation for solar farms: The committee considered the information in the finance paper rating designation for solar farms and decided that they should move them from Agricultural to Non-agricultural.
10. Governance: Each member was given a Governance Policy Pack and was asked to read through and be prepared to consider at the next meeting.
Ref 17 – To monitor compliance with legal requirements of the IDB: NWS advised nothing to raise.
Ref 18 – To monitor and confirm to the Board that funds are used economically, efficiently and effectively: NWS advised nothing to raise.
Ref 19 – To ensure that the provisions of the Accounts and Audit Regulations have been complied with and that electors have been given opportunity to review and query the accounts: NWS advised nothing to raise.
Ref 20 – To review and recommend to the Board any changes to the Board’s Standing Orders and Guidelines and to its Financial Regulations: NWS advised nothing to raise.
Review the recommendations of the National Assembly for Wales report on Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels IBD: NWS asked for members to read and consider recommendations 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 and to be prepared to consider at the next meeting.
Provision of ADA Policy documents: Ref 21 – To review and recommend to the Board the Publications Policy relating to the Freedom of Information Act: NWS advised to introduce interim adoption of the policy at this meeting.
11. Delegated authority:
Ref 24 – Budgetary and financial reporting procedures and Report on purchasing policy and procedures: NWS advised we do not have any other financial reporting procedures to consider. There had also been no further work on Purchasing policy, these items are still outstanding. I Dyer to meet with S Gee to be briefed on the Board’s finance procedures and accounts. C Passmore asked to have a copy of an expenditure report more often.
12. Policy and Strategy;
Ref 5 and 27 – Business risk management: NWS advised that when the rateable value was last set, a supplement of £5 per acre was added to land where milk quota was held. This was brought to the Board’s attention by Mr Coombes of Bineham Farm. If quota was officially withdrawn then there would be a tranche of work required to remove this element from the rateable values. This would result in a further increase in the value of the Special Levy to local authorities. It was agreed to keep it on as a risk.
13. Any other business: P Maltby wanted to congratulate staff in the consortium meeting; it was the best presentation he had seen and an excellent venue.
14. Date of next F & G sub- committee meeting – 14th January 2014.
The Chairman closed the meeting at 4.11pm.