19th September 2018, 7pm
John Wills (Chair)
David Waring (Treasurer)
Sue Scotter (Secretary)
Christine Cookman (District Councillor)
Beverley Kershaw (Village Hall Trustee)
The Chairman gave a warm welcome to all and thanked Cllr. Cookman for attending the meeting.
Apologies received from Raymond Levens and Dorothy Hawkswell
3. Approval of minutes of previous Parish AGM 2017
The Chairman briefly reviewed the previous minutes which were approved without amendment.
4. Electors agreement to Chair, Secretary and Treasurer
The Chairman explained that due to new issues relating to the governance of Farlington Parish Meeting (which would be discussed at length under agenda item 7), there was a need for the meeting to approve those currently holding the posts of Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary. The meeting agreed that John, Sue and David could continue in post until the next AGM in 2019.
5. Treasurer’s report
The Treasurer reported that the Parish Meeting account and the village hall account had now been formally separated as at year end 31st March 2018, as required by our auditors in 2017. Despite the accounts having been managed together historically, this was now required as one account was local government and the other a charity, therefore a more appropriate demarcation was necessary.
The Treasurer reported that the Parish Meeting account contained £388 (income is received only from parish precept and allotment rental) and the village hall account contained £1414. This meant that the village hall was more than able to pay its insurance and electricity costs for 2019 so it was considered unnecessary to increase the parish precept in 2019/2020. This would of course be kept under review by the Chairman and Treasurer in liaison with the Managing Trustees of the village hall, so that any potential shortfall in funds could be identified well in advance and support offered by the Parish Meeting where necessary.
Mike Scotter asked how and when money might be moved between the parish account and the village hall account. The Treasurer explained that he usually made the decision of when such a transfer may be required and it was usually actioned using online banking.
The Treasurer asked the meeting whether anyone else wanted to take on the role for the village hall as, ideally, it should be a different person to the Parish Meeting. As no-one offered, he agreed to continue for the time being.
6. Discussion on progress of on-going village issues
The Secretary updated the meeting on three main issues:
6.1 BroadBand: As yet there is no definitive date for fibre BBand to be installed in the village despite Sheriff Hutton and Stillington already having it. Some progress has been made in that BT Openreach have sent a surveyor to mark out the likely routes of fibre around the village. A contact “in the system” has promised to keep us updated as and when he hears of any progress.
6.2 Defibrillator: The Secretary reported that Sarah Utting had suggested she contact Friends of St Monica’s Hospital who sometimes assist communities financially with issues relating to health. Secretary reminded the meeting that It will cost in the region of £1500 to purchase a defibrillator suitable for both adults and children and grants were being sought to make progress. Cllr. Cookman also suggested that the Secretary contact Easingwold Lions for financial support. The refurbishment of the phone box intended to house the defibrillator was now completed and many thanks go to James and Judi Fisk and Richard Singleton who carried out most of the work.
6.3 Highways issues: The secretary reported that the issues relating to the unauthorised hedge cutting had been dealt with and, in future, prior to any works being carried out, the Secretary or Chairman of
the Parish Meeting would be advised that work needed to be carried out to improve visibility for farm vehicles. This way, the necessary working parties could be convened to clear up any debris.
The signage denoting “road narrows” and “SLOW” had now been installed and painted respectively on the hazardous S-bends near Ashbrook House/Barns. The dislodged coping stone on the bridge had also been fixed and the “SLOW” sign outside of Blackthorn House had been repainted on the road.
The Secretary also reported that her contact, Sarah Bailey, Area 2 Thirsk, who are the team who look after our area and with whom she had a good rapport, was being moved to a different team and a new officer put in place. It remained to be seen if this officer would respond so efficiently to queries.
7. Discussion on new guidelines for the operation of a Parish Meeting
The Chairman proceeded to clarify the need for changes to how the Parish Meeting operated. This came about as a result of copying our re-drafted Governing Document to Cllr. Cookman for comment. Cllr. Cookman advised that we were actually running the Parish Meeting more like a Parish Council which was not correct. The major changes were that we did not need a Parish committee only a Chair and Secretary (although committees could be established from time to time to carry out specific statutory functions if they were considered necessary and the Chair could ask for support with managing the accounts).
In fact, all members on the parish electoral roll (known as electors) are the Parish Meeting and all had an equal say on matters and a right to vote when attending a Parish Meeting. No committee was elected to represent them (as in the case of a Parish Council), unless the electorate specifically wanted a Parish Council. The meeting was also informed that there should be two meetings per year, one of which was the AGM. However, outside of normal meeting times, six electors could call a meeting in the interim if
something arises that they feel needs discussion. The electors would need to be given two weeks’ notice of such a meeting via the Farlington website and on the Parish noticeboards. A chair and secretary should be in place to run and record proceedings.
Consequently, the Secretary has now produced a new document entitled “Guidelines for the Operation of Farlington Parish Meeting”, a draft of which was given out at the meeting. The Secretary informed the meeting that this document is based on guidance given by the National Association of Local Councils LTN 3 and is duly referenced. The Chairman went through the draft in detail and some suggestions were received from the floor. The Chairman suggested that electors be given the opportunity to consider the document after it had been circulated more widely via the Farlington website and email alert system. Comments would be invited by a given date to be sent to the Secretary and these would be reviewed by the Chairman in due course.
8. Setting of village precept 2019
The Chairman reported that as the village accounts are in good order, he proposed that there was no need to raise the precept next financial year and it be maintained at £480 for 2019/20. The meeting agreed.
9. Update on village hall matters
The Chairman clarified the position regarding ownership and Trusteeship of the village hall for the meeting, so it was absolutely clear what was now in place.
The Title Deed of the Village Hall was registered with the Land Registry and Office of Official Custodian of Charities in 2015. This was done to avoid the need for an overly bureaucratic legal process whenever there was a change of so called “Holding Trustees”, as Ramsay MacCleary, Dorothy Hawkswell, Eileen Atkinson and Beverley Kershaw were historically and also to remove the financial liabilities conferred upon Holding Trustees.
The Chairman explained that the village hall is still a registered charity but we no longer require Holding Trustees since the hall is now owned by the Official Custodian. However, a charity MUST have Managing Trustees registered with The Charity Commission who are responsible for the charity finances and its management. The Managing Trustees now registered with the Charity Commission are Bev Kershaw, Sue Scotter, John Wills and David Waring in the absence of any other volunteers coming forward to share the Trusteeship.
This is not an ideal situation having the same key people involved in both Parish and village hall matters as the workload falls to the same people. Notwithstanding this, the current Managing Trustees all want the hall to be a success and to continue to thrive for the benefit of all parishioners.
It was established that neither Julia Brewer or Michelle MacKenzie were Holding or Managing Trustees of the hall and that some confusion had occurred due to a misunderstanding of what had happened in 2015 but this had now been resolved to the satisfaction of all. Mike Scotter asked how potential Trustees were informed about what they were taking on when thinking of becoming a Managing Trustee. The Secretary reported that a pro-forma explained the responsibilities, referencing the guidelines on the Charity Commission website and which the Trustee had to sign to confirm that they fully understood the role and its responsibilities.
Now that parish and village hall matters are required to be managed separately, a new Village Hall Constitution (VHC) must be prepared. The Managing Trustees are in the process of working with The Village Hall Network through North Yorkshire Stronger Communities Initiative who will assist us in drafting a new robust constitution. As soon as the VHC is completed, it will be circulated to all electors for approval as the hall is a village asset. Julia Brewer suggested that we try to build up some healthy savings in the village hall account so that any unforeseen repairs could be easily managed should they arise.
The Chairman gave a vote of thanks to Jason Brown for his excellent work on developing and managing the Farlington website and alert service which serves our community well and has received very positive feedback from electors.
The Chairman also presented Julia Brewer with a card to acknowledge her sterling efforts in trying to sort out matters relating to the village hall ownership etc. and for all her work over the years on parish matters.
The Secretary informed the meeting that she had been successful in achieving a grant offer of almost £800 from the NY Stronger Communities Inspire Fund to buy some extras for the village hall. These included, amongst other things, a portaloo and utility tent that could be used at village events and available to hire, a small fridge, a disabled ramp, new weatherproof noticeboard, dedicated hot water urn and vacuum cleaner. Provision of an outside light was also being investigated for the rear yard.
11. Date of next meeting
Between March and June 2019 tbc.