Finance Committee – 21st October 2019 – 6.30pm


    Members must provide apologies to the Town Clerk before 5.00 pm on the day of the meeting, together with reasons for their absence.

    Members to declare any interest under the following categories: 
    Disclosable Pecuniary Interest
    Outside Bodies Interest
    Family, Friend or Close Associate Interest

    To sign as a correct record, the Minutes of the meeting of the Finance Committee held on 16th September 2019. (A)

    Any points of clarification from the above minutes.

    Schedule B lists payments made since the last meeting
    (no attachment)

    Schedule C lists accounts for approval at this meeting

    Schedule D lists supplementary accounts for approval

    Financial probity recommends monthly reconciliation of the Town Council’s accounts. (E)

    Members will recall that, following approval by the Finance Committee at its meeting on 17th June 2019, the Annual Governance and Accountability Return (AGAR), together with supporting documents, was sent to the Council’s external auditors (PFK Littlejohn). Interim feedback from PFK Littlejohn was: –

    The AGAR was not accurately completed before submission for review.

    Section 2, Box 2, the annual precept, does not agree to the figure published by the precepting authority. The figures in Boxes 2 and 3 should read £410,240 and £75,441 respectively. All grants, including Council Tax Support Grant, should be shown in Box 3, as per the guidance notes on the AGAR.

    A final report from the external auditors is awaited and will be presented to Members when it is received by the Town Council.
    (F- to follow)

    Members are asked to note these developments.

  8. BUDGET SETTING – 2020-21
    Members will recall that, at the last Finance Committee meeting on 15th July 2019, an item was included on the agenda around the budget setting process for the next financial year (starting in April 2020).

    On that occasion, Members agreed the following: –
    – To include an element of public engagement in the budget setting process;
    – To include a range of methods of engagement and to include the public at the start of the process (around priority setting); and
    – To earmark a part of the Town Council budget to be spent based on public involvement in deciding where this money should be spent

    Following the meeting, it is proposed that the budget setting timetable should be as follows: –
    Late October- early December 2019 – consultation on priority areas for the Town Council
    – 18 November 2019 – update on the process to Finance Committee/Town Council
    – Mid-December 2019 – to hold a corporate planning/budget setting seminar involving Town Councillors to set an initial budget based, at least in part, on the views expressed by the public during consultation (could use Finance Committee on 16 December 2019 to do this)
    – 16 December 2019 – report on consultation findings/findings from above councillor meeting
    – Late December 2019-early January 2020 – amendments to be made to the initial budget proposals
    – 20 January 2020 – agreement of the final budget for 2020-21 at Town Council
    – End of January 2020 – submission of precept request to CWAC

    In terms of the participatory budgeting element: –
    – November 2019 – start to develop proposals around the involvement of the public in terms of participatory budgeting
    – 18 November 2019 – presentation of these proposals at Town Council/Finance Committee for approval/otherwise
    – Mid-December 2019 – initial agreement by Town Council of the amount to be earmarked for participatory budgeting and the areas to be focused on as part of the process
    20 January 2020 – final approval of participatory budgeting figure as part of 2020-21 overall Town Council budget
    February-March 2020 – roll-out of participatory budgeting work
    April 2020 – start of new financial year

    In terms of the initial public consultation during Oct-Dec 2019, the following methods are proposed: –

    – Use of social media/website to ask public to identify their priorities and indicate where they would the Town Council to increase investment/reduce investment
    – Hold a public meeting to invite the public to consider their views on priorities/budgets
    – Advertise the process via the printed media (local newspapers/leaflets/posters)

    Members are asked to note the above proposals and suggest any amendments prior to approving or otherwise the process set out.

    Members will be aware that the Town Council provides Christmas lights for the town on an annual basis.

    For 2019, the Council – as per its Financial Regulations – advertised for the tender to install and remove the lights. A total of three tenders were received.

    On 5th June 2019, the tenders were opened in the presence of the Mayor; the Chair of Finance and the Deputy Chair of Finance (as per Financial Regulations) and the tender was awarded to Yuletide Decorations Ltd (t/a ‘The Christmas Decorators’). A contract is currently being considered by the contractors for this purpose. The reasons for this decision were based on experience (the company having installed/dismantled the Winsford lights for the past three years); price; and capacity to do the work required.

    The tendered amount for installing and removing the Christmas lights in Winsford was £18,527.00. This will be pad in two halves – one prior to the installation and one half after dismantling.

    In addition, the contractors proposed a series of additional works in support of the installation. These included: –

    – Supply of 16-amp commando sockets and installation of these sockets;
    – Cherry picker to carry out this work;
    – Installation of a 12v switch from the Christmas tree for switch on

    These additional works were accepted as part of the tender process and were based on previous work done by the contractors and the need to ensure that the lights work properly and efficiently.

    The initial estimate for this work was £6,998.00, although the actual cost is to be £7529.60. This is mainly due to an increased cost for each socket and the number of sockets required was slightly higher than the estimate.

    Members are asked to note these developments. The invoice for additional works is included in the schedule of payments for this meeting, but it is proposed that this cost is met from the capital account (given the nature of the work). The cost of the lights installation will be met from the revenue account.

    Members may also wish to note that there will be no PAT testing undertaken on the lights this year. This follows industry guidance which states that, although outside Christmas lights should be PAT tested, this testing can take place every two years.

    Finally, Members should note that many of the lights have been used for several years and are reaching the end of their usefulness. Replacing all the lights may require a budget of around £20,000 at least, and it may be that the Council wishes to replace the lights in stages to cut down on costs.

    For Members to consider the attached minutes from the Grants Sub-Committee meeting held on 9th October 2019. The minutes are attached for ratification.                                                                      (G)

    To provide a comparison of actual spending against budgets for the first half of the current financial year 2019/20) (1st April 2019-30th September 2019) together with a covering report. (H)

    The Town Council uses the BACS system for its accounts. The Council’s limit for these transactions is currently £19,500. On several occasions, transactions have been completed by the Council for amounts greater than this limit. Exceeding the limit runs the risk of transactions being rejected or, as has been the case in the past, an additional fee being applied which the Council has to pay.

    The advice from the Council’s bank is to build an additional margin into the normal value of the Council’s largest transactions in order to deal with this issue. It is therefore suggested that the Council’s BACS limit is increased to £21,500.

    In order to implement this increase, the following must be completed and submitted to the bank: –

    – A copy of the trading accounts for the Council over the past two years;
    – A letter signed in accordance with the account mandate to confirm the increase in the BACS facility; and
    – Credit search authority from the key parties of the organisation (‘key parties’ means signatories to the account)

    The Town Clerk will make arrangements for the trading accounts and the credit search authority to be completed, and a letter will be made available to be signed by the Council’s signatories.

    Members are asked to approve the proposal for increasing the Council’s BACS facility as outlined above



Document Last Updated Download
Agenda Wed, 16th October 2019 4:50pm Download
Attachment A - Minutes 16.9.19 Wed, 16th October 2019 4:51pm Download
Attachment C - Schedule of Payments Wed, 16th October 2019 4:51pm Download
Attachment E - Reconciliation Reports Wed, 16th October 2019 4:52pm Download
Attachment E - Reconciliation Reports Wed, 16th October 2019 4:53pm Download
Attachment E - Reconciliation Reports Wed, 16th October 2019 4:53pm Download
Attachment E - Reconciliation Reports Wed, 16th October 2019 4:53pm Download
Attachment F - Audit Report Wed, 16th October 2019 4:54pm Download
Attachment G - Grants Sub-Committee Minutes 9.10.19 Wed, 16th October 2019 4:55pm Download
Attachment H - Mid Year Budget Report Wed, 16th October 2019 4:56pm Download
Attachment H - Mid Year Budget Report Wed, 16th October 2019 4:56pm Download
Attachment D - Supplementary Schedule of Payments Mon, 21st October 2019 5:05pm Download


Cheshire West and Chester Council Chamber
Wyvern House
The Drumber


21st October 2019