- Local Government
Minutes of Beech Hill Steering Committee meeting held on 17 February 2015 at Trunkwell House
Pesent: Bob Walton (Chairman), Peter Simpson (Secretary), David Seward (Treasurer), David Simpson, Hannah Callier, Charlie Carter, Hayley Sheradon, Tessa Hall (CCB)
The meeting opened at 7:30pm with Bob Walton in the chair.
Apologies received from Anna Roberts and Jude Cresswell.
Minutes: The minutes were agreed.
Matters Arising: none.
Correspondence: Email correspondence between Martin Plank (Chairman of the Parish Council) and Bob Walton (Chairman) on 4 February 2015 (see annexe 1).
Matters Arising from Correspondence: The Parish Council Chairman had raised two main issues – 1: the Steering Committee’s ‘claim’ of the existence of a bank account when one did not exist; 2: that ‘after 21 months of existence no real action had been taken by the Committee, particularly any which followed the order of preference contained with the Village Plan.’
Issue 1 was addressed by Peter by stating that a few days before the Parish Council meeting, when Peter had asked the treasurer directly whether the Steering Committee bank account had been opened, he had answered ‘Yes’ [see below]. Having no reason to doubt the Treasurer’s statement, it was reported as such by David Simpson (our member on the Parish Council) to the Parish Council meeting on 3 February. It was discovered later that both signatories to the account had not at that time identified themselves to the bank which meant that the account was not yet fully open.
Issue 2 was addressed by Peter and David Simpson by listing all the actions taken by the Steering Committee, linking them directly to actions listed on pages 16 to 18 of the Village Plan document. These were:
Beech Hill Show, September 2013 where all village residents were invited to attend free of charge and all village organisations were offered, free of charge, a stand in the marquee.
This event is covered by:
Neighbourhood Watch talk in Memorial Hall on 8th July, followed by extending the neighbourhood network to include the whole village and signs throughout the village.
Village Website – listing of all known clubs, committees and other organization in the village with contact details
Take Pride in your village day (postponed from August 2014 due to lack of insurance); rescheduled for April 2015 which will include litter picking and cleaning/painting of village gates.
Welcome Pack (in production):
Village Newsletter (in planning stage):
Beech Hill Fete (in planning stage for Summer 2015)
Bank Account and Insurance
David Seward reported that he had set up a bank account for the steering committee at HSBC. The account was awaiting the chairman, as the second signatory, to present himself at the bank for identification purposes. David Simpson had obtained a proposal form from the insurance company used by the Parish Council, covering fourteen pages of questions. Tessa suggested using an insurance company used by a number of existing Village Plan groups. Tessa to forward details to the treasurer.
Take Pride in Your Village Day
It was agreed that this should take place on Saturday April 18th. As the Memorial Hall would be in use on that date, It was suggested that we might be able to use the church facilities for washing and refreshments. Hayley to investigate.
Hannah asked for feedback from the draft document circulated to members in December in respect of corrections, updates or omissions. Otherwise the Welcome Pack is ready to be passed to the Estate Agent for formatting and publication.
Charlie will consult with the Memorial Hall Committee regarding a suitable date for the event. It was agreed that for the first event at least is should be kept simple. Events such as a Dog Show, Bouncy Castle, , ? were suggested.
It was agreed to look through the actions at the next committee meeting; to identify the actions which cannot be carried out by the committee and pass those back to the Parish Council; then to concentrate on the ones we can do.
Report for the Annual Parish Meeting
This was deferred until the next committee meeting.
It was suggested that the AGM of the committee should take place after the Annual Parish Meeting to ensure that more villagers were aware of who we are and what we do. It was further suggested that the Steering Committee AGM should be on Tuesday 21st April immediately following the Memorial Hall AGM
Any Other Business
Tessa announced that due to spending cuts by West Berkshire Council she would no longer be able to provide help and advice to village action groups, including ourselves. Peter proposed a vote of thanks to Tessa for all the valuable help and advice she had given us over the past three years. This was enthusiastically passed.
Date of Next Meeting
I was agreed that the next meeting would be held on a Monday towards the end of March. Bob to confirm the date after consulting his diary.
The meeting closed at 9:40pm
– email correspondence between Martin Plank (chairman of the Parish council) and Bob Walton (chairman of the Beech Hill Steering Committee)
On 4 Feb 2015, at 16:06, Martin Plank <campbellparker [at] btconnect.com> wrote:
Thank you for your prompt response.
I am though a little bit disappointed to note from your comments that the SC has not yet opened a bank account. I mention this only because the response received last night to what I thought was a straight forward question of “has the SC now opened a bank account ?”, the answer was “yes it had”. Clearly from what you have said that is not so, but I suppose other than now knowing that there isn’t infact a bank account which the BHPC could send any monies to, the non-existence of a bank account is more of an internal SC administration matter than anything the BHPC should be immediately concerned with.
Similarly although I do appreciate your update on the SC meetings I am of the opinion that the dates and frequency of all SC meetings are a matter for the SC to decide upon. I understand you will be meeting later this month which will obviously help you move matters along.
In addition to the BHPC receiving the assurance required concerning the actual carrying out of future community actions there has also been concern raised from the Public about exactly what actions were being proposed. We have been reminded of the fact that the Beech Hill Village Plan is a formally approved document, which, its conclusions were based on a survey of the whole village. The suggestion has been made to us that it is not up to the current committee to disregard the wishes and actions set out within the Plan or to spend public money on a completely new set of actions.
I am not sufficiently informed to know for certain whether it is correct or not but we are further led to believe that if the SC wish to carry out any action, not covered by the Plan, they need to carry out a new survey, refresh the plan and re-submit it. As mentioned I don’t know whether this is legally correct or not, but no doubt you will be conscious of the need for the SC to meet all of its statutory requirements and will be able to confirm this where you report back after the next SC meeting.
I look forward to hearing from you further in due course.
Chairman – Beech Hill Parish Council
From: Bob [bob [at] trunkwell.com (mailto:)]
Sent: 04 February 2015 14:37
Cc: beech hill clerk; Chris Bridges; david [at] beech-hill.co.uk; Alison Edwards; David Price
Subject: Re: Village Plan Steering Committee
Thank you for your email and yes the Steering Committee is very much live and kicking, the only meeting that was postponed was December, Trunkwell hosts the meetings and that is our busy time. I was away until 2 weeks ago in Australia so we now have 2 proposed February dates for the SC meeting.
We now have all the documents to open the SC bank account which were derived to me this week, as you know opening accounts are not an easy operation these days. I have to go to HSBC in Reading town centre to open the account.
We were making great progress in 2014 and had actioned and supported a number of village initiatives .
Let us have our next meeting and we can update you then.
Thanks again for your email
Robert Walton MBE
Sent from my iPad
On 4 Feb 2015, at 09:50, Martin Plank <campbellparker [at] btconnect.com> wrote:
I hope you are well.
At last night’s Parish Council meeting a discussion was held concerning the ability of the Parish Council to provide funding to the Village Plan Steering Committee.
As I believe you were aware the BHPC previously agreed to earmark a sum of £500.00 as seed capital for the Committee to use to fund its own insurance costs, pots of paint etc. This proposed funding would of course be subject to the Committee having both its own bank account as well as acceptable financial procedures in place relating to how and when the funds could be used.
Concerns though were raised last night that, after 21 months of existence, no real action had been taken by the Committee, particularly any which followed the order of preference contained with the Village Plan. It is also my understanding that no meeting has been held by the Committee for a number of months.
In deciding whether the funds of a Parish Council are being properly spent Councillors have to make certain that some genuine community benefit is going to arise. At the moment, given the lack of any action to date over a fairly long period of time, BHPC is slightly nervous that we could justifiably provide monies to the Committee on the basis that a community benefit is going to arise.
To overcome our concerns it was agreed that we should seek some form of agenda from the Committee laying out exactly what is planned for this year and the dates when the events are going to take place. Please be assured there was no motion by the BHPC to withdraw the financial support it was just agreed to ‘park’ it pending receipt of the confirmation that the monies will be well spent.
I would therefore be grateful if you could, perhaps after your next Committee meeting, provide the BHPC with the details and assurance required.
Chairman – Beech Hill Parish Council