Dear Clerks and Councillors
Clerks Please ensure this update should be circulated to all Councillors.
This week we have tackled two key areas that between them chew up vast amounts of resource, good humour and resilience, yes, Planning and Code of Conduct!
We started the week with a comprehensive day on the Code of Contact in principle and in practice, led by Paul Hoey, Natalie Ainscough, Nick Graham and Sharon Bridglalsingh. The consensus was that despite the length and complexity of the content, that all found it to be of value including our local representative’s, Sharon and Nick.
On Thursday Neil Homer took us through the many options, considerations and paragraph numbers, to assist Councils in reviewing their Neighbourhood Plans, only half a day but nevertheless jam packed with information. Neil managed our tricky questions with knowledge and practical advice and a number of delegates were scribbling furiously though out the morning.
Questions of note this week include, can an officer / Clerk’s political affiliations be taken in to account during recruitment / appraisal times? Absolutely not! , The Clerk is an officer of the council, not a councillor with voting rights. Council’s are reminded that local councils are not party political. Local councillors are there to represent their community, not their political party. Providing the Clerk is able to perform their duties competently, then their political beliefs/views/affiliations are irrelevant.
We also had a highly relevant question regarding Community Assets and how to manage them. There are suggestions that a charity might be established with the PC/TC as charitable trustees. This is an area which is fraught with tension. Read LTN 28 for more info. A practical suggestion from Steve Parkinson is to taken on the asset and lease it to a registered Charity, that way they manage the income, insurance and rates and you can still claim the VAT for any work you do on the building. It’s all about balancing rates vs VAT. Look at it carefully. If the Council wishes to assist more, they can always provide a grant to the Charity to assist with costs.
An ongoing concern is that of the ever rising utility bills, particularly those of us with unmetered supplies and lamp posts to support! I an in touch with a broker and looking to establish a membership advantage similar to ones in place in Northants and Oxford ALC’s I hope to have some new on that very soon.
Finally I’m ashamed to say that I have let the matter of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund pass me by without any scrutiny on my part, whilst late to the party I have now set off the party poppers in the direction of those in the know, at MKC and BC. Please let me know if you have already made any applications or been approached by anyone in the two authorities. These authorities have I believe until the 1st of August to indicate how they will be using any funding they receive, what I would like to know is if our members have been consulted at all.
I’ve included an update to the Rights of Way Guidance booklet which some of you may find useful.
With Helen away for a further week it only remains for Lorraine and I to wish you a great weekend and look forward to catching up with you all next week. Enjoy the warm spell, apparently its only a heat wave when it’s over 28 degrees for three days, so you might need to hold fire on that paddling pool for a little longer!
Mel and Lorraine