Hounslow Council


Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: The Terrace Room, The Small Mansion, Gunnersbury Park

Contact: Carol Stiles Tel: 020 8583 2066 or email:  carol.stiles@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

7.

Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members

Decision:

All members were present. There were no declarations of interest or other communications from members.

Minutes:

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed all present to what was an important meeting, particularly in the light of Item 4 on the agenda concerning future governance.

 

All members were present. There were no declarations of interest or other communications from members.

8.

Minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2014 pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Decision:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2014 were confirmed.

 

There was the following matter arising:

 

Item 3, page 4: Minutes and Matters Arising

James Wisdom advised that at the last meeting the Panel had discussed confidentiality and his access to commercially sensitive information. He had agreed to sign a confidentiality document on that basis but when this was sent to him, the terms as set out denied him the opportunity to speak on any of the documents. Mr Wisdom had prepared an affirmation which confirmed his willingness to respect commercially sensitive information, which was passed to the clerk.

 

The Panel accepted that this was not an issue they could resolve that evening. They agreed that there should be a response to Mr Wisdom outside the meeting. Sarah Ruane undertook to speak to Jonathan Kirby and seek legal advice to ascertain whether elements of the confidentiality agreement could be removed.

 

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 July 2014 were confirmed and signed as a correct record of the meeting.

 

There was the following matter arising:

 

Item 3, page 4: Minutes and Matters Arising

James Wisdom advised that at the last meeting the Panel had discussed confidentiality and his access to commercially sensitive information. He had agreed to sign a confidentiality document on that basis but when this was sent to him, the terms as set out denied him the opportunity to speak on any of the documents. Mr Wisdom had prepared an affirmation which confirmed his willingness to respect commercially sensitive information and not to communicate with the HLF. However, he wished to be able to present any information which was not commercially sensitive to the Friends. This signed statement was passed to the clerk.

 

Considering that he had been entrusted with Part 2 ‘yellow page’ information on Council agendas since the 1980s and that the Friends had undertaken work to support the lottery bid, Mr Wisdom felt this restriction to be humiliating.

 

Councillor Johnson advised that elected members of the Panel had not seen the confidential information either and had not signed to see it. However, Mr Wisdom explained that elected members did not need to sign a confidentiality agreement. The Chair was of the view that James Wisdom as a Co-opted Member of the Panel should not be required to sign either. Councillor Dabrowska pointed out that the issue here was not about sharing Committee papers but about a third party agreement.

 

Councillor Lee had not seen the document in question but pointed out that Co-opted Members of the Area Committees in Hounslow were bound by the same restrictions of confidentiality as the elected members. He had full confidence in James Wisdom’s discretion in handling sensitive information.

 

Sarah Ruane commented that she could only assume that what Mr Wisdom had been asked to sign was a standardised template which had not been questioned. She would take the concerns back to Jonathan Kirby at LB Ealing and seek legal services advice to see whether there were elements to the restrictions which could be removed.

 

James Wisdom remained concerned as he pointed out that this was not the first example of the Project not releasing information. He had been unable to see the information concerning the marketing of the Small Mansion. He wished to see a discussion taking place on the issue of releasing information. His objection to the wording of the current confidentiality agreement was that its restrictions applied to any of the papers.

 

 

Resolved:

 

The Panel accepted that this was not an issue they could resolve that evening. They agreed that there should be a response to Mr Wisdom outside the meeting. Sarah Ruane undertook to speak to Jonathan Kirby and seek legal advice to ascertain whether elements of the confidentiality agreement could be removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.

Project Progress Update pdf icon PDF 245 KB

Decision:

Resolved:

 

  1. That a correct breakdown of the figures for the money received from the Lottery bids should be given to the clerk to include in the minutes.
  2. It was noted that the Friends felt that public information was required to explain why it had been decided to build a new café rather than reuse existing buildings on site.
  3. Members noted the need for a single website for the Park linked to the Friends website, rather than utilising the websites of both Councils and the contractor.
  4. It was also noted that the experience of previous lottery funded projects showed that good notices around the site for public information reduced public concern.
  5. Members agreed that in considering uses for the buildings on site, particularly the Stables, the Small Mansion and New House, short term solutions should be explored as well as long term options as use would assist in preventing vandalism. Members suggested that there might be approaches made to, for example charities, arts trusts for display or theatre groups seeking rehearsal space. It was noted that the Woodcraft Folk were looking for space. The Panel asked Richard Gill to investigate options.
  6. Members also noted the importance of ensuring electrical and other utilities were in place in order to market the properties for use.
  7. The Panel agreed that Security and an update on liaison with the Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Brentford and Ealing should be on the agenda for the next meeting.
  8. The Panel requested a report to the January meeting from council officers on the Mela and other events in the Park. The Panel wished to understand what gain there had been to the Park from the event and if not, an explanation as to why there was no benefit to the Park from the event. The report should include other aspects of income to the park.
  9. It was agreed that LB Ealing and LB Hounslow should consider what events they wished to see in the park in the future.
  10.  In considering sports options for the Park, it was suggested that exercise and promotion of good health, for example walking and outdoor exercise equipment, should be considered alongside traditional sports as attracting a wider group of citizens, including older people. The Panel asked Sarah Ruane and Richard Gill to take this to the Project Board to include these wider aspects of sport, exercise and well being. 
  11. The Panel noted the launch of the Golden Mile document and acknowledged the document as a matter for future discussion of the implications for Gunnersbury, possibly via a report to the next meeting.

 

Minutes:

See the project progress update report – Agenda Item 3.

 

Heritage Lottery Fund meetings and funding

 

There had been a couple of meetings with the HLF. The last meeting had been on 29 July 2014. Permission to start the project had been given on 8 September so the works could now be progressed. The next meeting would be on 29 November and this would be the Stage E review. The details of the project would be tendered to contractors to price for the work. The tendering process would take place in January 2015 to award contracts in March 2015, with the aim of practical completion by 2016-2017.

 

The Chair advised that he was not clear exactly what money had been given. He understood the award of £4.7m from the Parks for People fund and £3.8m for the Museum. However, members had then been told that there was additional funding for the café and carriage display of around £900k. He could not see a correct breakdown. Richard Gill advised that he would provide the full figures to include in the minutes of the meeting, but it amounted to around £4m for each project.

 

{It was subsequently confirmed that:

  • The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a grant of £4.11 million towards a project cost of £12.74 million to repair and conserve the large mansion, transform the museum and provide new housing for the carriage collection.
  • The HLF awarded a grant of £4.61 million towards a project cost of £8.21 million to conserve and enhance the heritage parkland, improve park facilities and provide a wider range of activities. }

 

The Chair sought to clarify that the figure was not £9.1m but Mr Gill advised that this would be the figure if the first round funding was included. The Chair asked for a comprehensive breakdown of the funding. It was noted that the report referred to a £12.7m project but additional monies were not shown.

 

James Wisdom noted that there might be additional money but the only public document was the award letter for the Museum bid. There was no award letter for the Parks and People bid. Mr Wisdom suggested that they needed to see the award letters for both projects as this would give the information required. Sarah Ruane also explained that the details were in the Cabinet report. Councillor Johnson understood that LB Hounslow had now agreed its share of the funding. LB Ealing had agreed this some time ago. This information was in the public domain.

 

Procurement

 

Richard Gill explained that the procurement exercise would be led by LB Ealing. The Cabinet paper to approve this had been agreed in September so they were able to invite tenders to deliver the Capital works. LB Ealing was the contracting authority for the joint bid.

 

Café/Carriage building design

 

There had been a meeting between HLF and LB Hounslow to improve the carriage building design. Planning had advised that this was a non material amendment and so did not need a full application.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Future of the Gunnersbury Park Joint Advisory Panel pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Decision:

Resolved:

 

  1. That the Panel noted that the new governance arrangements would not come into being fully until March 2017, at the end of the project.
  2. That the members of the Panel considered that the Gunnersbury Park Joint Advisory Panel should continue as a committee until March 2017 when the new governance arrangements were introduced fully.
  3. That the Ealing Cabinet members on the Panel would recommend the continuation of the Panel when the future governance arrangements were considered by the Ealing Cabinet on 21 October.

 

 

 

Minutes:

See the report on a new form of governance for Gunnersbury – Agenda Item 4.

 

Richard Gill introduced the report. He explained that a report had been agreed by the Hounslow Cabinet the previous week on long term governance arrangements for Gunnersbury Park and a similar report would be considered by the Ealing Cabinet the following week. The report recognised the establishment of a Community Interest Company (CIC) to manage the Park. In addition to the long term governance implications, there were two immediate implications from this. Firstly, there was a need for a revised Memorandum of Understanding between the two authorities to concentrate on the HLF project as this involved capital expenditure whereas the existing document covered only revenue. Secondly, it was proposed to disband the Advisory Panel because of the setting up of the Community Interest Company as the governance vehicle.

 

Councillor Savin asked when the transition would begin. Richard Gill explained that there would be Capital expenditure under the HLF project for which the two Councils could claim back VAT. Until the end of the capital project in 2017, it would not be in the interests of the CIC to take over management. Councillor Dabrowska questioned whether the CIC was in essence a financial vehicle. She was informed that the CIC would be in shadow form during the delivery of the project and would take on management and financial responsibility for the estate on completion. The development Trust would take on responsibility for raising funds for the estate during the delivery stage and would continue after the completion of the project works.

 

The Chair noted that there had been mention of an interest group of councillors and others who could oversee the CIC. Richard Gill explained that the CIC would be the management organisation. The Board would include some Council representation. Councillor Johnson asked whether this would be the existing members of the Project Board but was advised that it did not need to be.

 

Councillor Lee had deep concerns about the commercial element of such a company which needed to make a profit as Hounslow had had a poor experience with Community Initiative Partnerships (CIP). This had been an unsuccessful exercise resulting in heavy costs and facilities nearly being closed. The Trustees had been honourable and decent but it had failed as a commercial vehicle and the Council had to bail out the Trustees who had personal liability. Councillor Lee was concerned that what was proposed here (and the proposals were vague) might result in CIP mark 2 and the need for a further bail out if it were not successful. Such organisations were only as good as the Trustees and the next generation of Trustees. There was a democratic deficit to such organisations as the Council had little control, despite the organisation being publically funded by the taxpayers.

 

Councillor Lee stressed the importance of governance and monitoring for such companies to ensure that they did not ‘drift’ from their purpose. There were inherent difficulties in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Dates of future meetings

The Panel agreed the following future dates:

 

Friday, 30 January 2015 at 6.30 p.m.

Friday, 17 April 2015 at 6.30 p.m.

 

Decision:

The following future dates were noted:

 

Friday, 30 January 2015 at 6.30 p.m.

Friday, 17 April 2015 at 6.30 p.m.

 

The Panel noted that it had been exceptionally cold that evening in the Terrace Room and asked that appropriate heating was available for future meetings.

 

 

Minutes:

The following future dates were noted:

 

Friday, 30 January 2015 at 6.30 p.m.

Friday, 17 April 2015 at 6.30 p.m.

 

The Panel noted that it had been exceptionally cold that evening in the Terrace Room and asked that appropriate heating was available for future meetings.

 

 

12.

Urgent Business

Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.

Decision:

  1. SSE electricity power company works on Sub stations

Councillor Dabrowska noted that works were proposed to lay cables to sub stations and considered whether laying cables through the Park and appropriate mitigation might be a modest source of income. It was agreed that Councillor Dabrowska would liaise with officers to bring an information report to the January meeting.

 

2. Members noted that it had been very cold in the Small Mansion and asked for heating or to meet in the Museum for the January meeting.

Minutes:

SSE electricity power company works on Sub stations

 

Councillor Dabrowska noted that works were proposed to lay cables to sub stations in the vicinity of the Park and considered whether laying cables through the Park and appropriate mitigation might be a modest source of income. Councillor Dabrowska had had the opportunity to speak to the power company and wondered whether it might be appropriate to invite them to speak at the next meeting of the Panel to explain what might be on offer.

 

The Panel recognised that the laying of cables through the park could provide a modest source of income and broadly supported the idea, provided legally they were allowed to do so. The Panel noted that members were not empowered to make a decision on this matter but also that what was proposed was about communication.

 

Resolved:

 

It was agreed that Councillor Dabrowska would liaise with officers to bring an information report to the January meeting.