Minutes of a meeting of the Finance Committee held in the Council Chamber, Windmill Lane, Northam on Tuesday 29 th September 2009


PRESENT: Chairman - Cllr B M Edwards

Members - Cllrs C K Langton, R H Osborne

Others Member in attendance Cllrs P Hames, R W A Miller, R Tisdale

Apologies were recorded on behalf of Cllr Mrs S Collins

1. Minutes

The minutes of the Finance Committee meeting held 15 th July 2009 were approved and signed.

(Vote: Unanimous)

2. End of year accounts

The Town Clerk reported the external auditor's comments on the accounts for the year ending 31 st March 2009 which were as follows:-

•  A formal risk assessment has not been carried out. The Council must carry out an assessment of financial and non-financial risks. This should be formally reviewed at least annually. Guidance on this area can be found from paragraph 2.97 in the Practioners' Guide which is available to download from the NALC and SLCC websites.

•  The Council has not carried out a review of the effectiveness of its system of internal audit. The 2008 Practioners' Guide contains guidance on this area from paragraph 2.79. This review should be carried out annually.

•  The Council should review its level of fidelity guarantee insurance cover. The current level of £30,000 is significantly below the Audit Commission's guideline level of £245,000 (Cash balances plus half the precept).

It was RESOLVED to follow the advice of the District Auditor and the Town Clerk was to make the appropriate arrangements to engage a suitably qualified person to carry out the work. It was also RESOLVED to increase the Council's fidelity guarantee insurance cover from £30,000 to £245,000.

(Vote: Unanimous)

3. Northam Community Centre

Members considered an application for financial support towards the heating system at the Community Centre. The Committee had previously asked for more details on an insulation and heating scheme to ascertain whether it was a sustainable project as the intention was to use the funds available to the Sustainability Working Group. Members were disappointed that the scheme was now only to provide heating and RESOLVED to refuse the application for the following reasons:-

(1) It is not sustainable;

(2) It would be more appropriate to apply for a grant in the normal way;

(3) Sustainability budget not being used as intended.

(Vote: Unanimous)

4. Grant Application Form

Members considered the grant application form for the 2010/2011 financial year. It was RESOLVED to reduce the maximum figure of grant normally awarded from £1,000 to £500 and to request account details when requests for grants exceed £250.

(Vote: Unanimous)

5. Skate Park

The Town Clerk advised that the District Council were unable to release the lottery money refunding the Town Council for works to provide the skate park until a certificate was produced to the effect that the skate park complied with the British Standards. The Town Clerk advised that he had been in contact with the contractor who had promised the certificate within the next few days.

6. Allotments

The Town Clerk advised that allotment rents had not been reviewed for many years and that the neighbouring authority was now in the process of charging £25 for a full plot and £12.50 for a half plot. The current Northam rent being £10 per annum for a full plot. Having regard to the new allotments and the need to charge an economic price it was RESOLVED to recommend to increase the rents to £25 for a full plot and £12.50 for a half plot should there be any. These new rents would take effect from September 2011.

(Vote: Unanimous)


Due to the confidential nature of the business it was RESOLVED to exclude the press and public from the meeting for these items.

7. Seagate Car Park land and Burrough Farm

The Town Clerk advised on the current situation with regard to the purchase of land from Burrough Farm where the hold up in completing was due to the resolution of the access from Dane Court.

With regard to the purchase of the Seagate car park the Town Clerk circulated the advice from the Solicitor regarding the current tenancy and it was agreed to make some further enquiries so as to fully satisfy the Committee. Members were of the view that these issues were not in themselves of sufficient importance to preclude the transfer of the land from Torridge District to Northam Town and it was RESOLVED to advise the Council to proceed with the purchase of the land as soon as possible.

(Vote: Unanimous)

8. National Salary Award 2009-2010

Members considered the National Salary Award 2009/2010 and it was RESOLVED to accept the recommendations of the NJC for Local Government Services.

(Vote: Unanimous)

9. Any other financial matters to hand

Cllr Langton requested that the Mayor's allowance be discussed at the next meeting.