28th October 2020, Eardisley Village Hall

Present: Alan Watkins, Phil Bayliss, Chris England, James Forrest, Ken Goodman, Geoff Greenhill, Nancy James, Yvonne King, Andrew Layton, Terry Morgan, Lewis Price, Sue Prosser, Tony Raymond, Paul Whittall and Steven Whittall

In Attendance: Clerk to the Parish Council, Alison Morgan
Members of the Public: 0

This extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council was called by the Chairman to discuss urgent matters of business in advance of the next ordinary Parish Council meeting in December.

1. Apologies were accepted from Clint Welson and Ward Cllr Graham Jones

2. No Declarations of Interest or requests for Dispensation were received for this meeting.

3. Open Discussion:

  • Brief discussion took place of Lengthsman works, including a fallen tree in the ditch previously cleared in central Eardisley, grips in Woodseaves Road that needed clearing and surface damage on Bower Lane that has deteriorated further since the last Parish Drive Round. A further Lengthsman Works Order would be raised re the grips and the Clerk will re-report the Bower Lane issue.

4. The Role of Working Groups: A debate took place on the ongoing role and structure of working groups. Fundamentally, it was agreed their primary aim was to take matters relating to specific areas of interest (Finance, Planning, Highways, etc.). The groups should carry out research or debate matters raised, prior to bringing updates and recommendations to the full Parish Council for decisions to be taken as appropriate. Councillors RESOLVED it would be helpful to document high level terms of reference for each group and it was agreed the Finance & Compliance Working Group (FCWG) should undertake the task of writing them. Timeline would be early next year in advance of the annual meeting.

5. Accounting Software Package: Councillors were asked to reconsider the proposal to subscribe to an on-line accounting package (as a follow-on from the ordinary meeting on 19th October). The Clerk has been researching into possible options for the PC to pursue since October 2019. In November 2019, the PC resolved to defer the matter for 12 months to trial an alternative spreadsheet.

The Clerk outlined the main reasons why the FCWG now recommended a subscription should be purchased. A summary of the proposal and the three options considered by the FCWG was given to councillors and can be found on the Accounts & Finance page of the web site.

It was agreed audit and regulatory compliance requirements were likely to increase in the future, making it prudent the PC should seek to minimise risk of non-compliance and increase transparency in its spending of public money by investing in such a system.

In addition, a purpose designed accounting system, specific to parish council requirements, would save the Clerk considerable time and significantly reduce non-productive duplication of effort.

Once councillors had raised questions and been given clarification on the preferred choice of package, it was RESOLVED the Clerk should purchase a year’s subscription to the Scribe Accounting package (recommended by the FCWG) at a cost of £288.00 per annum (plus VAT).

By making a decision now, rather than waiting until the December meeting, it would be possible for the Clerk to liaise with the suppliers to get EGPC set up and running on the new system for the current financial year.

The Clerk will report back to the PC on progress at the next PC meeting.

6. ‘Planning for the Future’ Consultation: Further to the meeting on 19th October, as requested Cllr Nancy James had incorporated feedback received into the Parish Council’s draft response. It had been updated and circulated to all. The draft response was further discussed and final revisions were AGREED. Nancy will finalise the document overnight and forward to the Clerk who will make an on-line submission on behalf of the Parish Council before the 11.45pm deadline on 29th October. The final version of the submission will be published on the web site, as an addendum to these minutes, as soon as possible.

The Chairman closed the meeting at 9:00pm.

As a reminder, please send Agenda items for the next meeting to the Clerk by Friday, 27th November, thank you.

NEXT MEETING: Monday, 7th December 2020, 7:30pm, Eardisley Village Hall*

*Should it not be possible to meet in person due to Covid-19 restrictions, the meeting will be held online using Zoom and connection details will be issued closer to the time