To receive the notes and any recommendations of the following Working Groups:
i) Community Enhancement held on 16th November 2022
This meeting did not take place and there are no notes for consideration.
ii) Strategy and Finance held on 8th December 2022 Appendix B
iii) Farnham Infrastructure Programme – observations for the Board Appendix Bi
iv) Strategy Day Notes and new Council Structure. Appendix C
iii) HR Panel Appendix D
To receive any relevant verbal updates from the Cemeteries and Appeals, Community Enhancement, and Tourism and Events Working Groups.
This meeting did not take place and there were no notes for consideration.
ii) Strategy and Finance held on 8th and 13th December 2022.
a) Cllr Evans introduced the report of the Strategy and Finance Working Group at Appendix B. The Working Group had considered the 2023-24 budget, which was set out in a detailed report at Appendix E to the Full Council agenda.
b) Cllr Cockburn commented that the Neighbourhood Plan had been discussed at Strategy and Finance and at the Strategy Day. In terms of the budget, she hoped that any review or work on the Neighbourhood Plan would be considered without expenses, as the plan was out of date.
The Town Clerk confirmed that he and Rachel Aves had a very positive meeting with place with officers from Waverley. It was confirmed that Waverley was taking legal advice on a review of the Plan engaging paragraph 14 of the NPPF. Local Plan Part 2 was expected to be adopted in March, but the Waverley Executive were considering whether to do a review of Local Plan Part 1. Cllr Cockburn advised that whilst it had to consider the review it did not have to change it, and if it did the Neighbourhood Plan would be out of date and Farnham would have to start again.
It was noted consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan review had already started with Statutory stakeholders and would continue once it was clear what the best direction to was to bring back the five-year protection. It was noted the NPPF proposed changes could be beneficial.
It was agreed that the Secretary of State be requested to ‘recover’ the recent Hawthorn’s appeal given the haste with which the Inquiry took place and the anticipated NPPF changes.
c) It was noted that Landform Limited had been granted the contract for the renovation of the Hale Chapels at a cost of £164,473 further to Council delegating the decision to the Town Clerk in October. The Strategy & Finance Working Group had endorsed the decision who had considerable experience in awad-winning heritage and landscaping projects. It was hoped the result would be an award-winning garden for which the community would be proud.
It was AGREED nem con that:
1. The position regarding options to review and update the Neighbourhood Plan be noted;
2. A formal request for the Secretary of State to recover the Hawthorns appeal in light of the anticipated changes to the NPPF be made; and
3. The Hale Chapels Community Garden Project work be completed and managed by Landform at a cost of £164,773.
d) Farnham Infrastructure Programme
Cllr Beaman was thanked for his draft report summarising the papers for the Farnham Infrastructure Programme Board Meeting being held on 16th December. And for all the work he had been doing. Cllr Beaman confirmed that a list of recommendations set out at Appendix Bi to the Council Agenda and proposed amendments had been completed and put forward to Surrey County Council in draft for the Board meeting as a collective view of FTC.
Cllr Beaman advised that the Board papers included a further paper on the Hart Link Road that was again emphasising negative points in a contradictory way and recommending its removal from the programme.
The Working Group had proposed to Council “That the Farnham Infrastructure Programme maintains the provision of the link road, to provide access for the residents and visitors from North Farnham to the Hart and The University of Creative Arts as an essential part of successful town centre improvements and minimise traffic moving around the town centre. The potential opportunity to extend this link road to West Street at a future point should be retained.”
In discussion, councillors argued that Council should press more strongly for the Link Road It was felt the cost for delivering and objective, which would have lasting benefits was relatively small in the cost of the overall improvements for the town centre, would reduce a large percentage of through traffic using the current gyratory system. The Link Road would provide access for residents and visitors from North Farnham to the Hart and The University for the Creative Arts as well as West Street, as an essential part of the successful town centre improvements and minimising traffic moving around the town centre. The potential opportunity to extend this link road to West Street as a future point (if not done immediately) should be incorporated within the Farnham Infrastructure Programme.
It was RESOLVED by 10 votes to NIL with four abstentions that Farnham Town Council strongly supports the construction of a road between Castle Gate and West Street as way of ameliorating traffic through the Borough, before the Borough is narrowed.
Cllr Neale made statement regarding the town centre proposals. While he applauded the efforts made in the proposed response, and agreed with certain elements, he wanted to record that he remained unsupportive of the broad position of the council. He did not feel it was possible to meet all the aspirations due to the limited road space and felt it was not possible to meet the needs of the pedestrians, cars, cycles and buses. He felt council should be focussed on the wider parameters for this project in terms of the type of town centre required for the future and how would that deliver for the community in terms of access, community space, health and wellbeing, climate change and pollution. The highways authority should provide the road traffic management solutions; the planning authority should exercise its planning mandate to provide a better, safer community space with no air pollution.
Cllr Neale requested council to insist that Farnham follows the path of other successful towns and cities by building a pedestrian zone that would attract more people into the centre and enable the town to regenerate the conservation area.
It was RESOLVED nem con that the response to the FIP Consultation report on the Town Centre at Annex 1 to Appendix Bi be agreed
e) Strategy Day Notes and new Council Structure
Councillors considered the report at Appendix C on the Strategy Day held on 5th November 2022 with recommendations for the governance of the Council from May 2023 to reflect the anticipated reduction in councillors from 18 to 16. It was proposed that the revised Vision Statement be “Farnham Town Council strives to be the influential and effective voice for Farnham bringing together the views of all organisations working for the good of the town and enhancing the well-being of all the community.
Farnham Town Council aims to be an efficient and effective organisation providing high-quality, sustainable services and facilities for the residents and businesses of Farnham whilst addressing the climate challenge, with a strong and respected voice representing Farnham’s best interests”.
It was RESOLVED nem con that:
1. The revised Council Vision be adopted;
2. The achievements of the administration from 2019-2023 be welcomed;
3. The areas focus for the forthcoming period be progressed; and
4. The new governance structure at Appendix 1 be implemented.
The HR Panel report was attached at Appendix D to the agenda. The Panel had noted the NJC Pay Award had been issued for 2022-23, backdated to April 2022 which had been implemented as a contractual entitlement after consideration by the HR Panel. The Panel recommended that in future the application of the pay award be delegated to the Town Clerk once Members had been informed to avoid an unnecessary delay in payment to staff.
The Panel had considered a proposal to reward staff for a further exceptional year’s activities with the achievement of the National Gold Medal at Britain in Bloom given the unusually difficult weather conditions, and the considerable extra effort undertaken to a high standard by all staff which included the work around the death of the Monarch, the proclamation and the vigil.
The Panel agreed to recommend that a deputising payment be considered for the designated member of staff after 8 working days absence of the Town Clerk.
It was RESOLVED nem con that:
i) Future National Pay Awards should be implemented under the Town Clerk’s scheme of delegation once members had been informed;
ii) an additional day’s leave be awarded to all staff involved in the 2023 achievements which could be taken between Christmas and the New Year; and
iii) a deputising payment be agreed to come into effect after a minimum of eight working days absence of the Town Clerk.
g) Cemeteries and Appeals verbal update:
Cllr Cockburn updated members on the presence of the memorial tree in West Street for community members to leave messages for their loved ones at Christmas time.
h) Tourism and Events verbal update:
Cllr Martin thanked everyone involved for all the hard work involved in producing the successful snow window trail and Christmas market.