Minutes of the meeting of EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF LYTCHETT MATRAVERS PARISH COUNCIL
On Thursday 30th April 2020 at 7:00 online.
PRESENT were A Bush (Chairman), M Attridge, B Barker, M Colvey, A Huggins, P Webb, R Watts, C Wood and Mr T Watton (Parish Clerk).
Also present: Dorset Cllrs A Brenton and A Starr; and two members of the public representing the Lytchett Matravers Angels.
PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION
The two local residents who had initiated the community Covid-19 response group now known as the Lytchett Matravers Angels both offered prepared statements which they read out. Copies of these statements are attached at Appendices 1 and 2 to these minutes.
1. To receive and consider apologies for absence. Cllrs R Carswell and A Cottman.
2. To receive any declarations of Pecunary interest, and consider any requests for Special Dispensations under Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011. There were none.
3. CHAIRMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENTS – statement: We put this meeting together to go through the status of the volunteer program in the village. This meeting is open to the public and will be minuted, so it is the most transparent forum.
The last six weeks have seen quite a dramatic change in how we live from day to day. You may all remember that Cllr Cottman had alerted the Council to what was coming back in early March – and that initiated our leaflet exercise. That was launched with the best intentions and it is grown and evolved in the last few weeks. We now need to take stock to see how we deal with the various issues that have arisen.
Just as importantly, we have to make sure we clear the air and have a more considered level of discussion than perhaps we have had at times. We are all volunteers as Councillors and we give up our time and effort for the Parish. The Parish Council has long had a policy of treating each other with respect for differing opinions, but also of treating all the residents with equal respect for their views. We need to make sure that we remember that. All the volunteers are giving up time and effort, and we need to applaud that.
However, this is not a monopoly. I and everyone can help their neighbours and friends directly, and I am sure you do that with your own neighbours. This doesn’t have to be have to be through the Parish Council or the LM Angels, or any other organisation. But the heart of what we do as a community is to help each other directly.
However, there are residents who need extra help and that is where the volunteers come in. We are all here to try to serve that, and can help with many of the tasks. We must recognise our limitations though, and there are times when we should. While we can do prescription requests and shopping, etc, there are times when we may have to get hold of the professional help of Social Services where necessary. I will talk later about the Dorset Council forum which is being set up to offer advice on this type of issue.
I am the Chairman of the Parish Council, but that is an appointed position. I am elected by you and my role depends on your support. So I apologise if I have moved quickly in the last few weeks, perhaps more than some of you would like; and we may not have gone through all of our normal democratic processes. That is a product of the times to an extent and I am someone who wants to get things done. Notwithstanding these intentions, some of you feel that the reputation of the Parish Council has been impacted and we haven’t kept our standard of values up. That is not something I set out to do, rather the opposite. However, I hope by the end of this evening we can go through the agenda and arrive at decisions that we can all take forward.
There are a few points of information I wanted to raise:
Parish Council grants. There was an email discussion about grants and what they are for. As we state in our policy, the Parish Council can make the award of any grant or subsidy, subject to any additional conditions or requirements, if it feels appropriate. We normally get grant applications for defined purposes and we give grants for those purposes. If we see an application from a voluntary organisation that sets out its intentions, those intentions just become a condition of the grant. Our policy is not particularly stringent, and if we encounter a situation where we need to amend it, then it is up to us to go and amend it. I do not see any restriction on us being able to give a grant – which is something which we talked about in the past.
Donations from charities. We have a donation from the Rockley Charitable Trust. Looking at their objectives, the charitable objects are to “such charitable foundations and as such charitable purposes as the Trustees in their discretion shall from time to time think fit”.
That Trust considered it appropriate to make a donation to the emergency fund; and that is their decision. I do not see any issue with that.
Holding funds as an accountable body. This is what we are doing now. The stated intent of the Emergency Fund was a joint operation between the Parish Council and the Lytchett Matravers Angels. I have checked with DAPTC who normally check issues with NALC (the National Association of Local Councils) and they reported by saying that “there should be no issue with the Parish Council looking after the funds for a separate entity. As the Accountable Body for your funds your Council will need to ensure that an agreement is raised and signed by both parties giving details of how the funds will be held and information regarding the funds shared. You say that the community group has not yet organised itself formally. [Which was my understanding when I wrote to DAPTC] This will need to be done as soon as possible for the Council to continue to act as the accountable body”.
Accountable funds. We can hold the funds, but we need to approve such a holding of funds, and have a formal agreement in place to govern it.
There has been other pertinent advice from Dorset Council:
Operation shield. Dorset Council have advised that they are going to be issuing letters are under Operation Shield to all vulnerable members of Dorset’s population (the people who have been confined for 12 weeks). DC want these letters delivered by local community because the local community need to know who those people are. We can then make sure that they get the local assistance they need. Possibly we have got most of those people identified already, but this will be a good cross check. I do not know when the letters will come. Dorset Council will let us know.
Providing a community support forum. Dorset Council are setting up an online meeting aimed specifically at leaders of local community support response groups to talk to them about what Dorset Council are doing in response to the Covid 19 crisis and looking at the various ways they can help those groups. It is intended essentially to have a big question and answer session so all the different groups can talk about their issues and see how they are being addressed elsewhere. This should be very useful both for the Parish Council and the Lytchett Matravers Angels.
Public Liability Insurance. The Parish Clerk has raised a question about public liability insurance. The advice from our insurers is that if the Parish Council takes responsibility for the community group, then the volunteers’ actions are covered by the Parish Council public liability insurance cover. As part of helping Councils through this time, this cover would be provided without any additional premium. If the Council is not willing or able to take responsibility for the group then they are not covered and they would need to consider purchasing their own public liability cover. This is something to bear in mind.
4. TO APPROVE A REPORT OF THE USE OF THE DORSET CORONAVIRUS COMMUNITY FUND GRANT OF £2,000 RECEIVED ON APRIL 14, 2020; also to approve the payment of the remaining £1200 of funds back into the “fund account” to match the £2000 total of local grant awards made. The Chairman referred to the report which had been circulated to all members by email ahead of the meeting. A copy is attached at Appendix 3 to these minutes. The content of the report was noted, and in particular that the funds have now been fully dispensed to applicants from the community in the form of 10 grant awards of £200 each. At this point there were no applications outstanding. The Chairman explained the payment mechanism: that the awards were paid out through the “Fund Account” (the formerly dormant personal bank account in the Chairman’s name) because it is quicker for recipients and safer for all concerned if the money is paid by bank transfer than through the issue of Council cheques requiring two signatures. For this reason, a Council payment into the “Fund Account” is then required to top that account back up. The first four awards were approved week commencing 20th April, resulting in the Council’s approval of the fund top-up payment of £800 approved at the meeting on 22nd April; and the listing of the remaining £1200 top-up payment back to the “Fund Account” is in the “payments for approval” list at this meeting (see payment 4295 in minute 10 below). The end-of-grant reporting requirements for the Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund for the £2000 grant received by the Parish Council on 14th April has have been requested from Dorset Council.
In response to a question from Cllr Colvey the Chairman confirmed that the Parish Council could apply for a further grant award from the Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund to enable a further round of local awards to members of the community. The Chairman also advised that he had previously explained to the representatives of the Lytchett Matravers Angels that any organisation can apply for a grant award from the Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund – with awards to non-registered entities limited to a maximum of £1500 whilst Parish and Town Councils could apply for up to £5000.
It was suggested that if any such further central grant monies are obtained by the Parish Council, these could perhaps be used to meet some of the more sensitive or problematic needs / requests from members of the local community – with the individual local awards being determined by the established independent decision panel. The Chairman observed that this could be considered under item 9 below – the ongoing role of the Parish Council in response to the current crisis locally.
In response to a question from Cllr Watts, the Chairman confirmed that Dorset Council, as the central awarding body, had requested case studies. He explained that the necessary evidence, in the form of examples drawn from local grant requests, is being gathered and securely stored ahead of receipt from Dorset Council of the specific format of the End-of-Grant reporting. RESOLVED to approve.
5. TO RECEIVE A REPORT ON THE PROPOSED TRANSFER OF DATA GATHERED FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL LEAFLET DISTRIBUTION ON MARCH 20/21, 2020 TO THE LYTCHETT MATRAVERS ANGELS. The Chairman referred to the report which had been circulated to all members by email ahead of the meeting. A copy is attached at Appendix 4 to these minutes. He explained that the content of the report was based on professional advice provided by Mr M Gracey drawing on his expertise in advising organisations and individuals on matters concerning the application of GDPR. He also confirmed that the data currently held is an amalgamation from the efforts of both the Parish Council activity and the Lytchett Matravers Angels.
Cllr Watts observed that, in consequence, the implication of this agenda item is that formal Council approval is required for the report at Appendix 4 and the actions set out in it. This was acknowledged by those present. RESOLVED to approve.
Discussion then turned to the practicalities of achieving the actions set out in the report. Cllr Barker explained that all the volunteers who came forward have already been contacted; and so that part of the process is already complete. It is therefore still necessary to:
(a) Contact the people who are on the request list for support who responded via the Parish Council members,
(b) Provide an explanation to them about what is proposed to happen and why,
(d) Obtain their agreement to the transfer of their data to the Lytchett Matravers Angels.
Actions: (a)-(d) above to be completed in a co-ordinated way jointly by a small party from LM Angels and LMPC Council; and a written record of the actions maintained (copy to be passed to Parish Clerk).
6. TO PROPOSE ACCEPTANCE OF THE LYTCHETT MATRAVERS CORONAVIRUS/COVDI-19 EMERGENCY FUND POLICY AND GUIDELINES DISTRIBUTED ON APRIL 16, 2020 AND TO REVIEW ANY AMENDMENTS. The Chairman referred to the policy document which had been circulated to all members by email on April 16th 2020. A copy is attached at Appendix 5 to these minutes. The Chairman explained that this policy and guidelines have been governing how money has been paid out so far, and that most councillors had agreed to that approach. He suggested that the current policy stays in operation until the council transfers the funds.
In response to a question, the Chairman explained that the funds distributed had come from the “Emergency Fund Account” which is linked to the Just Giving appeal. He explained that at the time of preparing this policy he had not distinguished between the funds from the Just Giving appeal and the money from the Dorset Coronavirus Community Grant from Dorset Council.
Cllr Webb sought to clarify the meaning of the final sentence; and in reply the Chairman confirmed it relates to the mechanism for making payments rather than to actually spending the money. The Chairman also drew attention to the list of purposes / services for which the money is to be used as stated on the policy is consistent with that shown on the Just Giving page, as well as the approach used by Bere Regis Parish Council on which this scheme was originally based.
Cllr Webb asked if the Lytchett Matravers Angels are following this policy, and will follow it when the funds are transferred to their control. In response the LM Angels representative explained that a discussion on this had taken place with the Chairman during which she understood that the policy followed the Bere Regis model in terms of the use of a panel for independent decision making on awards to members the community seeking financial support. She noted that unlike the Bere Regis model the Lytchett Matravers Policy is to make grant awards rather than loans.
A proposal was put forward by Cllr Attridge that the Lytchett Matravers Angels focus on their core activities of supporting the foodbank, providing shopping & prescriptions pickup and delivery services, and other day to day support needs, whilst the Parish Council maintains the continuity of the current system of processing grant requests from those residents in particular financial need. The logic of this was that the LM Angels then do not become entangled in or slowed down by the bureaucracy of that process. Cllr Watts added to this by suggesting that the Council also takes sole responsibility for handling the process for handling and meeting the claims for volunteers’ costs incurred when supporting residents. On this latter point, the LM Angels representative stated that if the funds are to be transferred to the LM Angels then, provided her colleague was in agreement, the handling and payment of the volunteers’ expenses can also become the responsibility of the LM Angels, thus leaving just the local grants process and funding with the Parish Council. However, the possibility was also noted that the LM Angels might choose to apply for Grant funding from various sources to also offer financial support awards to residents in need. In addition, it was noted that other community groups might also yet emerge locally wishing to undertake similar activities.
Members RESOLVED to approve the documented policy and process as it had been used to date and is operational today. They also RESOLVED to then work with the LM Angels between now and the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting on 13th May 2020 to review the policy and develop and agreed set of amendments to enable the establishment of a common policy document and related set of processes which would be adhered to by both the Parish Council and the LM Angels.
Cllr Wood indicated her willingness to work with the LM Angels to discuss and develop the required amendments ready for consideration at the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting on 13th May 2020. Action: Cllr Wood to work with the LM Angels representatives accordingly.
7. TO APPROVE A PROGRESS REPORT ON THE SOURCE AND USE OF THE FUNDS DONATED TO THE ‘COVID-19 EMERGENCY FUND FOR LYTCHETT MATRAVERS RESIDENTS ‘(FUNDS DONATED THROUGH JUST GIVING AND DIRECT DONATIONS). The Chairman sought confirmation that all members had seen the progress report which had been circulated to them by email ahead of the meeting. RESOLVED to approve.
A copy of the report is attached at Appendix 6 to these minutes. In response to a question he explained that the reference to £2000 being “pending” was because the incoming payments concerned were by cheque and had not yet cleared. This incidentally demonstrates the slowness of such a mechanism and the importance of using electronic payments for the award of local grants to residents.
8. TO PROPOSE TRANSFER OF FUNDS FROM THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY FUND ACCOUNT FOR LYTCHETT MATRAVERS RESIDENTS ‘(FUNDS DONATED THROUGH JUST GIVING AND DIRECT DONATIONS) TO THE LYTCHETT MATRAVERS ANGELS. In accordance with the earlier discussion (see minute 6 above) after extended discussion the following was RESOLVED to prepare a paper to be considered by the Finance and General Purposes Committee which recommends the separation of duties between the Parish Council and the Lytchett Matravers Angels, and the separation of funds commensurate with that. It was also RESOLVED that:
8.1 To transfer the payment link on the Just Giving page so that the funds are linked to a bank account nominated by the Lytchett Matravers Angels. Action: LM Angels to provide the bank account details to which to transfer the link.
8.2 To transfer the balance in the “Emergency Fund” account, minus the money donated by the Rockley Trust, to the LM Angels’ new Natwest Account as soon as they are able to inform the Parish Council that it is open and operational. Action: Cllr Bush to do this on behalf of the Parish Council.
8.3 To consult Lord Rockley regarding whether the donation from the Rockley Trust was intended to be added to the Just Giving account money, or was to be added to the fund used to provide support grants to people in the Lytchett Matravers community adversely affected by coronavirus. Action: Cllr Bush to do this on behalf of the Parish Council.
In support of the above, and linked to the work to review the policy referred to in minute 6 above, Cllr Wood with work with the two representatives of the Lytchett Matravers Angels present at this meeting to prepare the paper referred to above for consideration of the Finance & Policy Committee which both reviews and proposes amendments to create a common policy covering the issues above which both the Parish Council and the Lytchett Matravers Council can agree to comply with. Action: Cllr Wood to work with the LM Angels representatives accordingly.
9. TO REVIEW THE ROLE OF THE PARISH COUNCIL IN EITHER DIRECT OR INDIRECT SUPPORT FOR COVID-19 EMERGENCY FUND ACCOUNT FOR LYTCHETT MATRAVERS RESIDENTS. It was agreed that this will be derived in response to the outcome of Council consideration of the paper referred to in minutes 6 and 8 above, which will be presented to the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting on 13th May 2020.
10. TO RESOLVE TO APPROVE THE FOLLOWING PAYMENTS Due:
|Inv||To Whom||For What||Net||VAT||Total|
|4295||A Bush||Payment into LM Emergency Fund account against 6 further awards from the fund already made to residents||1200.00||0.00||1200.00|
|4296||British Gas||Sports Pavilion gas bill 2nd March – 20th March 2020||43.88||2.19||46.07|
|4297||Newlec Ltd||Installation of 2 defibrillator cabinets (phone kiosk and Chequers PH)||425.32||85.06||510.38|
|4298||Morelock Signs Ltd||Supply of MSID Vario radar speed sign plus ancillary fittings etc.||2495.00||499.00||2994.00|
It was RESOLVED to approve all of the above payments.
There was none, other than the two matters which the Chairman covered in his announcements under item 3 above.
12. To note date of next meeting and items for future agendas.
The next meeting is the Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting scheduled to take place on Wednesday 13th May 2020 commencing at 7pm (online). This is followed by the Annual Parish Council Meeting (online) on Wednesday 27th May 2020 at 7pm.
The access link for both meetings will be made available to members of the public on request from the Parish Clerk (tel 07824 829491 or email lytchettmatravers )
The meeting closed at 20:58
Annotated by/on …………………………….. Signed by……………………
Full Minutes 200430 Appendix 1 (Statement LM Angels)
Full Minutes 200430 Appendix 2 (Statement LM Angels)
Full Minutes 200430 Appendix 3 (Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund status)
Full Minutes 200430 Appendix 4 (Parish Council Transfer of Data to Lytchett Matravers Angels)
Full Minutes 200430 Appendix 5 (Emergency Fund Policy v5)
Full Minutes 200430 Appendix 6 (Emergency Fund Account Status – April 30)