Spennymoor Town Council – progress in the last 12 months.

 

The format for this report is to summarise the key actions undertaken within each Town Council goal.

Council Mission Statement

Spennymoor Town Council’s mission is “to engage with residents and communities, working with all to make Spennymoor a better place for us all to live”.

Council goals are:

Council Goal 1 – Improve the working of Spennymoor Town Council  – this includes STC organisation, teams and team working, governance, processes, projects, contracts, controls, budget, capital and revenue spending, income, Committees, meetings.

Actions

Internal Controls. All Internal Audit (IA) control recommendations were reviewed and identified priorities were targeted to be completed ASAP.  Open IA recommendations reduced from 131 to 48.  This includes new recommendations from IA from audits performed since May 2017.

Internal Audit role strengthened by including audits of Major Renewals Project and Events in July, reported to Council in November with Audit recommendations and actions by Council to ensure all Groups are represented on major project committees,  improved processes, transparency and governance.  Council was unanimously in support of the proposals made.  Summary statements published for openness and transparency.

Budget 2017-18 reviewed and key actions to deliver “value for money” initiated. This included establishing a program of tendering covering significant Council spend areas – an Internal Audit recommendation –  including telephones, Christmas lights, Gas Service,  Door security, Printing / stationery, Smoke detection, Air conditioning, Intruder alarms, Fireworks, Hygiene services. Electrical/ emergency lighting and External events.

Budget 2018-19 – included a detailed review of all projects, loans, cash, reserves. The Precept proposal struck a balance between the reality of inflation and cost increases, the burden of loan repayment inherited, improvements to make Spennymoor a better place to live, feedback from Residents at the Public Consultation, savings that are sustainable and the impact on Residents of actions proposed.  Commitment made to report savings –v- budget quarterly.

Develop a Medium Term Finance Plan ( MTFP). Due in Q2 2018.

Review completed of Council Staffing and organisation, linked to Budget / MTFP priorities,  implementing Internal Audit findings and STC recommendations for better governance.

Formal appraisal process for staff developed and implemented.

Funding opportunities progressed via Mayor’s Charity initially ( £16,600 secured),  also in discussion with other Councils and third party Funding Organisations active in our area.

Secured sponsorship for Council Events in 2017/18 (£4,100 for events and £17,000 worth of play equipment ).

Revised S137 Council grants policy.

Research a Council suggestion scheme to encourage staff to identify cost savings. Due in 2018

Development of 4 year plans in progress for maintenance of:

  1. a) Small assets – paths, trees, fences, small buildings eg cemeteries
  2. b) Large assets including the Town Hall lift

Ensure General Data Protect Regulations (GDPR) compliance – Report awaited from Consultants, including a prioritised plan to address key issues.

Asset management – Land registration of keys areas in progress.  More detailed project to register all land in Spennymoor Parish in progress.

Prepare a Town Plan. Due in 2018/19.

 

Council Goal 2 – Implement open, relevant, timely, informative engagement with residents – all communication channels through which STC engages with residents and communities

Actions

Ensured that items at Council meetings were only discussed without press and public when they were confidential or commercially sensitive.  Where appropriate, summary statements were made public eg project reviews, budget.

Made increased use of the media to inform residents  – Spennynews, Facebook, Northern Echo,  Town Council web site, in line with residents feedback at Public Consultations

Introduced a Mayors blog to share relevant Mayor and other Council activities

 

Council Goal 3 – Improve the visibility of STC with residents – use opportunities to engage face to face with residents and communities

Actions

Introduced quarterly Public Participation meetings where residents could ask the Town Council any questions without having to submit them in writing.

Introduced bi-annual Community Consultation events where the Council displayed and shared information on most Town Council activities, giving residents the opportunity to ask questions face to face with Councillors and Staff.  Involvement of key Service Providers improved relationships – Livin, AAP, Home Group, Police, Fire Brigade, DCC Departments, Churches, Community Action Team, Whitworth Park School.

Numerous litter picks around Spennymoor.

Mayoral Charity activities facilitated in-depth engagement with the Scouts, Mining Museum, all 10 Spennymoor Schools, all Care Locations, Theatre Groups and key Funding Organisations

A stronger working relationship has been established with Spennymoor Town Football Club, via involvement in forward planning.

Work began related to Community Centres and establishing a clearer, more comprehensive and consistent basis for future planning and improvement.

 

Council Goal 4 – Make Spennymoor a better place to live in areas within STC control – including Cemeteries, Play areas, Cow Plantation Nature Reserve, Parks, Art Gallery, Events, Allotments, Community Centres and Halls, Toilets

Actions

Reviewed the inherited Play Equipment Project and addressed areas outstanding actions: e.g. including swing for disabled use, reviewed and resolve proposed location issues (ownership, suitability, omission), and earmarked reserves to fully fund project.

Completed “snag list” from the inherited Skatepark project.

Closed the cemetery gates overnight.

Applied for funding for a Skatepark Competition to be held as part of the Town Show.  Funding offer expected in May 2018.

Young People’s Awards delayed until March 2018, to facilitate greater organisation involvement.  The format was revised to improve delivery.   Feedback was very positive from all involved regarding the revised format.

Developed a plan to improve Spennymoor environment, a key issue for residents, per feedback. Partnered with a DCC Community Action Team ( CAT) project undertaking an action plan for Spennymoor, which we will revisit with the CAT team in 12 months.  The Plan is published on the STC website.  Cleanliness and Enforcement Officer appointment agreed, in line with Budget 2018-19. This will add to the work of CAT, in line with resident priorities,  by putting additional resources in place.

The Winter Maintenance pilot program was agreed at Council on May 4th. It involves testing gritting and snow clearance on the paths around schools.  Plans will be revised depending on results and feedback.

A project is in being formulated to review Council owned Community Centres, Cricket Clubs and a pre-school building.  DCC have already undertaken a large scale project in relation to over 100 community buildings so the next step is to understand this project as a means to learning from it.

Allotment fencing renewals program in the sum of £70,000, provided for in 2018-19 budget approved, and a phased plan will be introduced.

A review of allotments, their management, funding etc, will be undertaken during 2018/19.

Recognise national celebrations e.g. the centenary commemoration of the end of  WW1 where Council 2018 plans include placing a Silent Soldier in each Parish, supporting the Remembrance Day Parade in the Town Centre and Remembrance Day Services in Parishes including an Evensong, planting a flowerbed in Jubilee Park following a design competition involving Primary schools,  supporting the Drumhead Service in Jubilee Park, installing an Airfield Commemoration Plaque in Middlestone Moor and a film, “Behind the Lines”,  of First World War Nursing and Kate Maxey a nurse from Spennymoor who served in WW1, from the History Society.

Future anniversaries to be planned in MTFP.

Pride of Britain awards supported with a celebration for a local charity, the Solan Connor Fawcett Trust, which was in the Regional Final 3 years in a row, winning in 2017.

Cow Plantation opportunities to be considered and included in a development plan.  Due in 2018, following completion of Northumbrian Water Project.

The change in designation and usage of the Town Hall flat, which will result in cost savings of £1300 per annum.

Council Events, and those of external providers such as the Gala Committee were protected in the Budget 2018/19 as they were identified as a priority by residents.

Another pilot scheme, this time to provide 6 weeks  free summer holiday play on certain equipment in the park will hopefully be approved in May and will be introduced for the 2018 school holiday in Jubilee Park .

 

Council Goal 5 – Make Spennymoor a better place to live in areas outside STC control – including Festival Walk, Mining Museum, Parking, Infrastructure, Schools, “Care” locations, Scouts, Theatre Groups, DLI store at Sevenhills, DurhamGate facilities

Actions

Mining Museum chosen as one of the Mayor’s Charities and actively promoted and supported as the wonderful  asset it is for Spennymoor.

The Mayor’s Charity activities facilitated in-depth engagement with Scouts, Mining Museum, all 10 Spennymoor Schools, all Care Locations, Theatre Groups and key Funding Organisations, building stronger relationships already evident e.g. at the Young People’s Awards.

Continued to build on the relationships with D Rifles and also with Army Cadets in Spennymoor and Air Cadets in Bishop Auckland.

Town Councillor support for a very active DurhamGate Residents Group and ongoing attempts to create a Management Committee for Middlestone Moor Community Centre.

Continued support of the Town Band, providing free rehearsal facilities, instruments and funding towards attendance at a competition.

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