LOUTH TOWN COUNCIL
Annual Town Meeting 30th April 2019
Chairman – Councillor George Horton
Present – Town and District Councillors, Members of the Public and Members of Community Groups.
1. The Chairman Councillor George Horton welcomed all present to the meeting.
2. Following a proposal by Councillor Mrs. MO, seconded by Councillor Mrs. JMS and a vote of those present the Chairman signed the notes of the 2018 Annual Town Meeting and approved them as the minutes.
3. Annual Report of the Town Council 2018/19
a. There are currently no vacancies on the Council with 21 councillors representing the town comprising 3 for each of the 7 wards. However, you may be aware that the Town Council has two contested wards which will be fought out at the forthcoming elections on 2nd May. It will also then have a vacancy on St. Michael’s Ward which it will look to fill by co-option in the coming months.
b. Councillor’s meeting night attendances for the last year (to 16/04/2019) was 82% an increase of 5% on the previous year with three councillors missing no meetings at all. During the year there have been 16 Town Council Meetings, 13 Planning Committee, 6 Governance and Finance Committee, 7 Personnel Committee, and 7 Community Resources Committee Meetings held on a total of 25 occasions.
c. Councillors also attended working groups, meetings with other authorities, the ELDC Area Forums, Project Boards, Residents Groups, Local Action groups, and are representatives on charitable trust boards.
d. The Town Council was also represented at Civic Services throughout the County and in Louth including celebrations for Remembrance Sunday and the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI.
e. Town Council Routine activities
i. Hosted Public Forums at most scheduled meetings (except through the Election announcement period) receiving comments ranging from the promotion of Louth Pie Day to the collapse of Keddington Lock, services at Louth Hospital to surface water run off on Grimsby Road.
ii. We hosted and attended quarterly CCTV meetings, attended the Clerk and Councillors Networking Day held by the Lincolnshire Association of Local Councils, attended the SLCC Annual Conference and the NALC National Conference and hosted a Lincolnshire-wide Councillor Training Session.
iii. Supported the work of Hubbard’s Hills Trust by continuing to fund day to day operational costs.
iv. Provided storage facilities under agreement for LANALS and Hubbard’s Hills.
v. Celebrated National events and anniversaries, flying flags for events such as the Queen’s birthday and St. George’s Day.
vi. Received presentations on various subjects ranging from Colin Horton the ELDC Arboriculture Officer, Mrs. S. Williamson and Dr. Owen of LECCG on Louth Hospital and Mr. M. Forman and Mr. J. Gale re. Love Louth.
vii. Approved the Budgets and Precept for 2019/20 and submitted the request to ELDC.
f. Major topics / events for the year which the Town Council considered / carried out were:
i. Hosted the Lincolnshire Voices exhibition at Sessions House celebrating 100 years since the end of World War I.
ii. Organised the Beacon Lighting at St. James’s Church in celebration of 100 years since the end of World War I.
iii. Organised a Public Meeting with regards to the ‘downgrading’ of services at Louth County Hospital.
iv. Organised and hosted the Lovely Louth competition and awards night.
v. Discussed / responded to various consultations including:
1. Review of Gambling Licensing Policy
2. Street light between Florence Wright Avenue and Pasture Drive
3. Louth Hospital
4. ELDC Review of Sex Establishment Licensing Policy
vi. Supported residents’ requests for Litter Bins and Discretionary Rate Relief requests from Generations Church and Louth Men’s Shed.
g. Planning Committee
i. Commented on 161 planning applications (to 30/04/2019) and amendments following recommendations from the Planning sub group who meet prior to Committee meetings. This is an increase of 1.25% on 2017/18 (159).
ii. Recorded variances of planning consultation responses compared to ELDC outcome including Southlands Avenue (01625/18), South Street (01950/18), Land off Legbourne Road (01297/18), Eastgate (01965/18), Louth Golf Club (01991/18), Upgate (02410/18), Eastfield Road (02306/18), Westgate (00077/19), Ramsgate Road (01940/18) and Stewton Lane (00004/19).
iii. Considered 21 ‘Proposed Works’ to trees (to 2/4/19).
iv. Received 35 Temporary Traffic Restrictions/Closure notices.
v. Consulted on one street naming proposal at a development off Monks Dyke Road.
vi. Notable Planning Application Consultations some of which were attended by a representative of LTC at ELDC Planning Committee:
1. Land adjacent to 82 Eastfield Road
2. Land rear of 72 Church Street
3. 50 St. Mary’s Park
4. Land West off Grimsby Road
h. Governance and Finance Committee
i. All of the members on the Town Council sit on the Governance and Finance Committee. We all share responsibility for the financial management of the council although the finances are administered by the responsible financial officer which is the Town Clerk.
ii. We ensure that the Responsible Financial Officer acts properly and that the council avoids the risk of fraud, bad debts or carelessness. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that our accounts have been properly prepared and approved, that we have an effective system of internal controls, that we comply with the law, that we have assessed all possible risks to public money and that we have appointed a competent and independent internal auditor. We make sure that the accounts are publicised for general inspection and that there are no hidden issues, (such as impending claims against the council) and also that any significant differences in the figures from previous years can be explained.
iii. A group of councillors sit on the Finance Overview Group which meets prior to the Governance and Finance Committee meetings to make recommendations to the committee members, such as risk management policy statements in respect of all activities of the Council. The Chair of the Governance and Finance Committee keeps an eye on the arrangements for financial management and regularly checks financial documents such as the cheque schedules.
iv. Recommendations made to and approved by the Governance and Finance Committee include overseeing the audit procedures. Louth town council received an unqualified external audit for 2018/19 and the 2019/20 annual return will be submitted following approval shortly. Louth Town Council participate in a quadripartite internal audit arrangement with three other local Councils, Skegness, Mablethorpe and Alford. We also ensure that public notice requirements are complied with. We carried out a risk review, adding to and tightening internal controls accordingly.
v. We reviewed our governance documents such as standing orders and financial regulations as well as our insurances and have prepared and adopted a number of new policies and procedures during the year.
vi. We carried out a thorough budget setting exercise resulting in a precept of £318,524.50 for 2019/20 or £63.79 for a band d equivalent – an annual increase of £9.21 which equates to a weekly increase of just under 18p, compared to last year. Largely due to taking on extra services such as amenity grass cutting which was formerly carried out by LCC. LTC did undertake this service in 2018/19 but it was at late notice and meant that the council did not have sufficient funds.
vii. In 2019/20 LTC have significantly increased funds for grass cutting in an effort to ensure that the town is sufficiently aesthetically enhanced for residents and in an attempt to boost the economy that the town derives from tourism. ELDC no longer fund elections therefore LTC have had to set monies aside to cover these. LTC have also included the provision of a contingency fund which will be put towards repair work required to the cemetery lodge, if it is not sold, or it will be put towards the provision of extra services. Some extra finds have been included for Christmas lights and associated costs as following the collapse of the Ponte Morandi in Italy health and safety requirements have been changed and the catenary wires from which the lights hang and the lamp columns from which the solar trees are suspended now have to be subjected to specialist and rigorous health and safety testing by qualified persons.
viii. LTC have also instigated a rolling programme of refurbishment/replacement of its decorative town signs. The attractive oak signs have braved all weathers since 1967 and some can, unfortunately, no longer be repaired. LTC has also begun to inventory all of the benches in the town which it will shortly discuss with a view to remedial/replacement works required.
ix. The Town Council has also again provided an extra £10,000 for the maintenance of Hubbard’s Hills which it agreed should be repeated from 2018/19.
x. We carried out a thorough examination of the council’s income and expenditure and undertook a budget setting exercise. Our approved expenditure for 2018/19 included:
1. Hubbards Hills £45,000 day to day maintenance expenditure
2. Cemetery net cost £19,395
3. Loan repayment for the Sessions house is £20,513. Our loan balance outstanding is £48,541.65 which will be complete in 2021
4. Christmas decorations for the town including safety checks, repairs, installations, solar trees and the Christmas tree at a cost of £16,635
5. Grants of £4,084 which included monies to run for life, Louth 2nd Scouts, Louth 4th Scouts, Zero Degrees, Lindsey Blind Society, Louth Old Boys and Louth Hockey Club. The Town Council also gave £1,000 to the Citizens Advice
6. Flood alleviation scheme to which we, with the agreement of the environment agency, contribute £11,914 towards the maintenance of the structure which was completed in 2017 and is located near the Hallington end of Hubbard’s Hills
7. Pool van for council business use
8. Installation of updated and new emergency lighting at the Sessions House
9. CCTV maintenance of £3,386.16
10. Installation of a door entry system at Sessions House
xi. We the council receive regular feedback from the responsible financial officer on the accounts and are therefore aware of the council’s financial position. This ensures that everything is open and above board and that we have what we need as councillors responsible for the Council’s finances.
i. Personnel Committee
i. Maintained Policy handbook for Employees and Members, adopted by Town Council.
ii. Supported officers and Councillors attending training courses throughout the year including First Aid, CILCA, Burials Course, VAT, Elections 2019, Diversity and Community Engagement, Freedom of Information and General Data Protection, Charity Law, Health and Fire Safety Awareness.
iii. Following a staff restructure recruited a Town Clerk’s Assistant to replace the vacated post and we welcome Mrs. Maria Vincent who joined our existing three employees in September 2018.
iv. Ensured that the Council complied with its statutory Pension Scheme requirements.
j. Community Resources Committee
i. Council Premises –The Sessions House
1. Provides office accommodation for the Town Clerk and office based staff.
2. Hosts council, working group and public meetings
3. Instils Civic Pride by Flying The Flag(s)
4. Councillors are Fire Wardens and nominated keyholders
5. Hosted visits from schools, twinning groups, art groups and charity events
6. Hosted Action Group Meetings
7. Provides storage facilities and a base for Louth in Bloom, Hubbard’s Hills and storage for LANALS.
ii. London Road Cemetery:
1. 58 burials took place in 2018/19 made up of 31 full burials and 27 sets of ashes.
2. In total the Town Council has responsibility for 29,337 burials since 1855 as at 31st March 2019.
3. Twice a week the Community Payback Team, attend the Cemetery. They have several projects both ongoing and in the pipeline one example of these being removing the ivy from old grave stones which were moved to the edge of the cemetery many years ago, to allow the public to see the historical stones.
4. The Payback Team also assist with general maintenance as required, from emptying bins to painting.
5. We continue to cultivate the Meridian Meadow area and the Meridian Orchard, a community initiative (which contains 26 apple trees all species native to Lincolnshire, 2 blackcurrant bushes and a mulberry bush) in conjunction with the Community Payback Team and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Officer.
6. Supporting Biodiversity by allowing the growth of the wildflower meadow.
7. Memorial testing is undertaken on a rolling programme.
8. Following a comprehensive tree survey highlighting problems with the avenue of Lime trees running east to west across the Cemetery, remedial action in the form of pollarding and mulching continues and restriction of vehicular access in the area has been implemented with lockable bollards.
iii. Civic Pride in the Town – hosts the annual Lovely Louth Competition, provides the Town Christmas Tree, Solar Trees and Town Lights and has litter picking equipment available.
iv. Contribute towards the maintenance of the Parish Clock at St. James’ Church and pay for the running costs.
4. Presentation by Mr. W. Goodwin, Community Speed Watch -Area Coordinator East Lindsey and Boston
i. Mr Goodwin explained to those present the way in which the Community Speed Watch system works. A brief summary is listed below:
1. It is run by members of the community. At least 6 volunteers are required. Local Councils can fund the purchase of the equipment i.e., Speed laser guns, signs, a click counter and hi-vis jackets. Speed Indicator Devices (large LED signs) which monitor the speed of traffic are also required.
2. Volunteers are coved by the Council’s indemnity insurance.
3. A vehicle seen to be speeding is tracked with the gun. If a vehicle is speeding – i.e., speed limit plus 10% plus 2 mph faster than the speed limit. The details of the vehicle / speed /date etc., is noted and details are uploaded onto a password protected spreadsheet.
4. The registrant of the vehicle then receives a letter from the Lincolnshire Road Partnership notifying them of their speed. If they are tracked again, they receive a second letter. On the third letter, they receive a visit and then will be fined.
ii. Cllr. George Horton thanked Mr. Goodwin for his presentation.
5. Performance by Louth Zero Degrees Show Chorus
The Chorus Group, who had received a grant from Louth Town Council in 2018/19, gave a short summary of their activities and then sang three songs from their repertoire.
6. Floor Open to the Public
No-one wished to speak in the Public Forum.
7. The Chairman thanked Mr. A. Warne from the British Legion and closed the meeting at 8.35pm.
Signed_____________________ (Chairman)_ Dated_________________________