Agenda item

Working Group Notes - Strategy & Finance


Cllr Neale introduced the Notes of the Strategy & Finance Working Group that met on 18th January, at Appendix C to the agenda.


i)                 Quarterly Finance

In terms of Finance, the Working Group had reviewed the 9 month position with income running at 117% specifically because of CIL and Section 106 funding received whilst expenditure was at 62% with some significant projects about to start.  A detailed review of Income and Expenditure, by both account code and committee, the Statement of investments and reserves, and an update on outstanding payments had taken place.


The Working Group had reviewed fees and charges, and also rates for the Residents’ Guide and Invest in Farnham brochure, for the coming year with a schedule attached for adoption. There was also a recommendation for some flexibility in sponsorship to get the best deal for the council.


The 2022/23 Investment Strategy was reviewed for adoption by Council.


It was RESOLVED nem con that:

1)   The fees and charges set out in the report at Annex 1 be agreed;

2)   The Town Clerk be authorised to use discretion to negotiate the best arrangement for the Council in relation to Sponsorship and items where more complex arrangements are planned using the approved Fees and Charges as the basis for discussion;

3)   The Investment Strategy 2022/23 be adopted.


ii)             Internal Audit

Cllr Neale introduced the first Interim report of the new Internal Auditor, Mike Platten.  The issues raised were addressed in a response by the officers, and the points set out were endorsed for recommendation to Council.


It was RESOLVED nem con that:

1)     The Internal Auditor’s report be welcomed

2)     The Officers’ responses be agreed.


iii)            Timetable of meetings

It was noted that the 2022/23 Timetable of meetings had been circulated and discussion had taken place on whether there should be a review of all the Working Groups ahead of 2022/23.  It was felt that it was not practical to make a recommendation to Council at this stage, and this was agreed.


iv)              Risk Management

Cllr Neale introduced the comprehensive Risk Management Review that had taken place with input from each of the Working Groups on potential risks and mitigation for their own areas of activity, considered during the autumn cycle of meetings.  Council noted the work of the Internal Auditor (using Governance and Accountability - a Practitioner’s Guide as the basis for his work) was a key element of the financial and corporate risk management, whilst health and safety issues were independently assessed each year by the Council’s contract with Worknest.  Their report had just been received and would be considered separately.  Council noted the responsibility that all employees, councillors and volunteers had in maintaining a good and safe environment and that the responsibilities were set out in policy statements agreed by Council.


It was RESOLVED nem con that:

1)     The 2021/22 Risk Management Report be welcomed and adopted;

2)     The work done by Working Groups in managing risk be noted.


v)                Contracts and Assets

Cllr Neale updated Council on a number of projects being progressed including the refurbishment of the Central Car Park toilets; the West Street Cemetery Gates and the resolution of the fire in the greenhouses. 


Council noted some additional safety improvements were proposed in the ladies toilets and that there was a recommendation to use some of the Community Infrastructure Levy funding for the improvements being made. It was noted that CCTV would be installed to cover the works from within approved budgets. In terms of the CIL contribution, members noted that it had been agreed to spend the limited CIL pot on agreed FTC projects initially but it was expected that the CIL Task Group would convene in the new municipal year.


In terms of the replacement greenhouse, and preparations for the forthcoming growing season were discussed.  A review of several options for had taken place with an option to acquire a second-hand greenhouse in good structural condition being favoured (with the approval of the insurers).  The greenhouse would be dismantled and rebuilt by specialist greenhouse movers. Council noted the reuse of an existing greenhouse was better environmentally if it met the Council’s needs and it was agreed this option should be investigated further and the greenhouse be adapted with appropriate heating and watering systems within the settlement sum.


It was RESOLVED nem con that:

1)     The proposed safety improvements in the ladies toilets be incorporated at a cost of £10,099;

2)     A CIL allocation of £40,000 for the Public Toilets refurbishment in Central Car Park be agreed.

3)     The arrangements for the 2022 planting season be noted;

4)     The concept of acquiring and adapting a secondhand greenhouse from Secretts be pursued in consultation with the Council’s insurer.


Cllr Ward arrived at this point


vi)              Community Grants 2022/23

Cllr Neale introduced the proposals for Community Grants 2022/23 attached at Annex 5 to the Strategy & Finance Notes with funding proposed as follows:

Service level agreements:                £54,500

In year community grants:               £17,500

Grants funded from other budgets: £6,000

Small Grants (in year allocation)     £2,000


Cllr Neale advised there had been concern raised over the seeming lack of support for the Hale Community Centre from Vivid Housing Association.  Council noted the Town Clerk would write to them and also enlist Waverley’s support to the request to encourage funding for the valuable work done by the Hale Community Centre for Vivid’s tenants.


It was RESOLVED nem con that:

The Community Grants listed for 2022/23 be agreed.


vii)            Farnham Infrastructure Programme

Cllr Neale provided an update on the Farnham Infrastructure Programme.  He advised that the list of Medium Term Interventions had now been published. There had been concern expressed by the Working Group that the list did not seem to accord with the Town Council’s responses over many months and appeared to be broadly based on projects that already had section 106 or other designated funding.  Members were concerned that Section 106 funding should be spent where it was needed and not be in a pooled pot.  There was specific concern over a project in Badshot Lea where an application to vary the Section 106 had been made.    Council discussed the issues further emphasising that Section 106 funding was to mitigate specific development and not to be pooled into a wider pot where its benefits could be dissipated. 


Cllr Neale stressed that FTC was looking for visibility of both interventions and funding and he would raise this again at a meeting he and the Town Clerk were attending with officers of SCC.


Council noted the work going on the Wayfinding project and that FTC officers had re-raised issues that had not been addressed and had also asked for ward councillors’ input.


viii)        Consultations

Cllr Neale advised that FTC had already responded initially to the Surrey Hills AONB consultation.  Further detailed information and evidence in the format requested had been discussed. The Working Group highlighted the need to include Tice’s Meadow to link up to the wider area, and also the importance of extending the boundary outlined in the Neighbourhood Plan evidence prepared by HDA consultants, to link up with Dockenfield and Rowledge as well as Badshot Lea and avoid gaps in designation.


It was proposed by Cllr Cockburn, seconded by Cllr Attfield and RESOLVED nem con that:

Farnham Town Council agrees to extending the green area outlined in the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan and HDA evidence in support of the AONB to avoid gaps in designation; and also supports an extended AONB reflecting the character of the land include in Dockenfield and Rowledge and from Badshot Lea to Tices Meadow.