Hounslow Council


Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Wendy Merry on 020 8583 2061 or Email: wendy.merry@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of the Chair & Vice-Chair for the Municipal Year 2015 - 2016

Minutes:

Councillor Mitchell was elected Chair and Councillor Anderson was elected Vice-Chair for the Municipal Year 2015/2016.

2.

Minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2015

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2015 (agenda item 3) were agreed with the following amendment:

 

Amend Redlees Hall to Rutland Hall (item 48, page 2 refers).

 

Matters Arising

 

Councillor Hughes advised that she was the Chair of the Bedfont, Feltham, Hanworth Area Forum and she noted that there had been a reference made to consultation with the Area Forum. She advised that the Feltham Masterplan was soon to be signed off and she had concerns that Bedfont Lakes would miss the opportunity to be part of that Plan if the consultation with the Area Forum did not take place. She advised that the Local Plan was also going through and that there would be a lot of development work around Bedfont Lakes. There was an Area Forum meeting on 19 November and Councillor Hughes asked officers to attend and to make a presentation.

 

Stefania Horne, Head of Parks, advised that there had been delays following the departure of the previous Head of Parks and internal checks on processes were currently taking place.

 

Martin Walker, Carillion, advised that he had received an email about a presentation on 8 October and Councillor Hughes suggested he contact Mat Proctor, the Urban Planning Designer. She also felt that the Friends of the Park may wish to get involved (item 48, page 2 refers).

3.

Accounts and Budget Monitoring Report - Elzbieta Kesek & Henry Dickinson, Finance

Minutes:

See report by Elzbieta Kesek, Strategic Finance (agenda item 4)

 

Elzbieta Kesek and Henry Dickinson from Strategic Finance advised that they were seeking approval of the Statement of Accounts for 2014/15 and approval of the proposed Budget for 2015/2016.

 

They highlighted the main points in the report and advised that the summary on page 6 showed a modest balance of £14k, which was a difference to last year’s small deficit. The increase was due to a revised arrangement with the fund managers, who had improved their performance. The Head of Finance was planning to review arrangements for investments during the current year. In the summary of expected income and expenditure, there was a modest surplus of £9k.

 

In response to questions, Mr Dickinson advised that it was their remit to increase investment and investment in property-based funds was currently in position, which covered the Carillion contract. They could look at it in terms of what they wanted to achieve and he advised that there was a positive outlook. The income they were receiving was growing and was being monitored quarterly. Mr Dickinson advised that he would bring it to the Panel’s attention if there was an issue.

 

Ms Kesek confirmed that there was no impact from the China crisis. The £360 mistake in the accounts was trivial and they would, therefore, get final sign off before asking the Chair to sign.

 

Resolved:

 

a)     That the statement of accounts for 2014/15 be approved.

 

b)     That the proposed budget for 2015/16 be approved.

4.

New Visitor Centre - verbal update from Stefania Horne, Leisure & Cultural Services

Minutes:

Stefania Horne advised that she was looking to bring projects forward and ensure that they were sustainable. She was also looking to make sure that the partnership with Groundwork and Carillion worked. She felt that there was clearly good news from the earlier accounts report, which was covering the cost of the contract. The team had looked at procurement issues and she advised that design and construction must be subject to open competition.

 

Councillor Hughes invited Ms Horne to attend the Area Forum meeting in November to make a 10 minute presentation during the meeting and asked her to arrive 30 minutes early to put up images for the public to view. She felt that all 15 Councillors should be on board and advised that the Area Forum had access to funding pots, which could be used for bat walks, etc.

 

Ms Horne advised that she wanted to ensure that whatever was put in place was financially sustainable. Visitor Centres were expensive to maintain and there needed to be a business plan to make sure it kept going for years to come.

 

Martin Walker advised that the new Visitor Centre would be more than welcome and he agreed that it needed to be sustainable. He had seen Groundworks initial proposals, but had not seen anything about what would underpin that in taking it forward. In response to questions, he advised that the budget increase was inflation costs and part of the contractual arrangement.

 

Chris Slack reported that Green Flag status had been achieved again for the park again that year. He was managing the countryside service and had been at Bedfont Lakes since 1996, including some time spent at Hounslow Heath. He felt that it had been a good year for arranging educational visits for schools, scouts and other groups. There had been a lot of interest in volunteering on site by local businesses.

 

In response to questions, Mr Slack advised that there had been a big increase in visitors over the summer holidays, which he felt was due to the two new playgrounds on site. The car park had been packed every day and there had been a notable increase on last year. There were no counters on site to measure footfall, but they had restructured the working patterns of staff to allow the Visitor Centre to be open from 8 – 4, 7 days per week. They were looking to include more information in the feedback forms and Mr Slack advised that they had most of the usual groups coming back.

5.

The date of next meeting is 15 March 2016

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting was noted.

6.

Any other urgent business

Minutes:

a)     Councillor Christie asked if the Panel could see the Risk Register next time as part of the Budget Report. It was agreed that Ms Kesek would send Members Schroeder’s report, once it had been submitted.

b)     Councillor Hughes advised that she was uncomfortable about the cheque signatories; she felt that it was best practice to have two signatories. Mr Dickinson advised that they could look at that, but pointed out that it was usually only three cheques.

c)      Councillor Christie felt that more publicity for events at the park was needed e.g. the fun run, although she acknowledged that the park was appreciated and very well used.

d)     Councillor Hughes felt that more should be done to attract local people from the Feltham area to use it.

e)     Councillor Christie referred to page 21, the play equipment and asked if it was owned by the Council. Ms Kesek advised that the Council was able to provide for assets outside the Council, in relation to the users.

f)        Chris Slack asked if there were plans for cycle routes. Councillor Hughes advised that they were looking at joining up routes and had been talking to cycling groups.