On Thursday we will have the next extraordinary meeting of Melksham Town Council. I'm absolutely gutted that the Locum Clerk and the Town Mayor have yet again decided that including an item on the agenda to say thank you to our staff teams and the amazing volunteers who did, and many of whom are still doing, so much during Lockdown is not important enough.
For me, this sums up the Town Mayor's attitude towards the Melksham Community Support scheme. Happy to try and take credit for it in her Liberal Democrat Focus leaflet (despite not participating in the scheme in any way) but not willing to say a public thank you to those who actually did the work.
As at the last Full Council meeting the Town Mayor and "Leader" decided that my asking them questions constituted disruptive behaviour I am this time submitting a series of questions in advance.
In the interests of transparency I have detailed below the exact questions I have sent in to the Locum Clerk this morning.
What do you think the chances of getting an answer to them is?
Minute 41/20 of the meeting held of Full Council on 8th July 2020 relates to a proposal by the Town Mayor that read:
“It was proposed by the Town Mayor, Councillor Aves, seconded by Councillor Fiorelli and Resolved to leave the committee structures as agreed at the Full Council meeting held on 1 June 2020”
Can the Clerk please explain why this decision was reversed behind closed doors at the extraordinary meeting of council held on Wednesday 5th August.
Additionally, can the Locum Clerk please advise why he felt it appropriate that:
- Standing Order 9(a) which reads “A resolution shall not be reversed within six months except either by a special motion, which requires written notice by at least seven councillors to be given to the Proper Officer in accordance with standing order 11, or by a motion moved in pursuance of the recommendation of a committee or a sub-committee.” did not apply in this instance as the council had made a decision on 1st June 2020 and confirmed that decision through a motion by the Town Mayor on 8th July 2020.
- Standing Order 11(b) did not apply on this occasion “No motion may be moved at a meeting unless it is on the agenda and the mover has given written notice of its wording to the Proper Officer at least seven clear days before the meeting. Clear days do not include the day of the notice or the day of the meeting.”
- Business (composition of committees) unrelated to the matter on the agenda (current and future staffing requirements) could be discussed at the meeting in contravention of Section 12 Para 10(2)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972 which says “a summons to attend the meeting, specifying the business proposed to be transacted at the meeting and certified by the proper officer of the council, shall be sent to every member of the council by an appropriate method.”
- Business was conducted in private session, namely the membership of a committee of council, that did not meet the public interest test for reasons for hearing the matter in closed session contrary to Standing Order 3(d) and Schedule 12 Part 2 of the Local Government Act 1972.
In Minute 33/20 of the meeting of Full Council held on 8th July 2020 council noted the projected loss for the Assembly Hall should it remain closed for the remainder of the Financial Year. Bearing in mind the extent of that loss, could the Locum Clerk please assure me that no overtime will be being paid for any supervisory or user management work at the Splash Pad as we should be able to utilise the team from the Assembly Hall to undertake much of that work.
I draw the Locum Clerks attention to the points covered in the Joint Panel of Accountability and Governance Practitioners’ Guide attached to the Agenda Pack and particular the items covered in Assertion 3 – Compliance with laws, regulations and proper practices that can be found on page 10. Can the Locum Clerk please assure me that that period covered by in the return we will be voting on tonight does not include the period 27th July 2020 onwards.
The Amenities Team at the council are employed on 7-day contracts with a requirement to work 5 out of 7 days. Last year, in response to the anticipated demand of staffing the Splashpad the council increased the size of the Amenities Team in order to ensure that there was adequate cover for the season. Could the Clerk please explain why the report in this evenings Agenda Pack suggests that there will be a requirement for overtime in order to facilitate a reduced opening of the service?
Last year two members of the Amenities Team were trained to operate the Splash Pad. Can you please confirm how many members of the team are now qualified to operate the facility?
I see from paragraphs 2.6, 4.1 and 4.2 in the report for Agenda Item 7 relating to the opening of the splash pad that staff and volunteers will be responsible for the management of the children using the facility and controlling access.
I have not seen any reference to a requirement for DBS checks to be undertaken for these adults who will be responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the children using the facility and therefore assume the decision has been taken that DBS checks are not necessary. Could you please supply a copy of the Risk Assessment that covers the safeguarding requirements of running the facility please to provide the reasoning for this decision.
On Agenda Item 9 in paragraph 2.3 I see that the proposed membership of the Working Group includes three councillors. Two of these are exclusively labelled as Melksham Town Council and the third shown as “Wiltshire/Melksham Town Council”. May I please ask what that means? Will this third councillor representative me from Melksham Town Council or Wiltshire Council and who will be responsible for selecting the representative?
Additionally, on the Working Group I see that there are representatives from various community organisations included including a representative from an unspecified community climate change group. As this group is unspecified can I ask who will be responsible for deciding which community climate change group is invited to send a representative and who that representative should be?
Finally, what other groups were considered for inclusion and who made the decision about which groups should be included. Was any consideration given to a representative from the Age Friendly movement being included to help ensure that as any potential development was considered and the ideas expanded, the needs of every member of our community were being taken into account?