Challock & Molash Parish Council Forester Meeting minutes
Molash Village Hall
Monday, 26th February 2018, 7.30pm
Members of public present: 0
Michael Fisher (Chairman Challock PC), John Ramsden, Anthony Aiken, Mick Maidens
(Forester Editor) & ABC Ward Councilllor Larry Krause.
Annabelle Burden (Vice Chair Challock P.C), Julia Phebey (Chair Molash PC), Sarah Williams (Vice Chair Molash P.C), Tina Cobourn (Molash P.C Clerk), Angela Goodsell (Molash PC), Tony Dodd (Molash PC), Max Thomas (Challock PC), Emma Fox (Challock PC), Trevor Smith (Challock PC) & Dianne Sandy (Challock P.C Clerk).
It was noted that Councillor Julia Phebey requested to be Chair for this meeting as it is being held at Molash. Councillor Annabel Burden rejected the request as Chair for the Forester Sub-Committee and Challock PC the main contributor to the Forester.
Annabel Burden welcomed everyone to Forester Meeting introductions took place.
Declarations of Interest
This special meeting has been called to address issues raised by Molash PC and for both Parish Councils to come to an agreement on the direction of the Forester magazine.
Councillor Annabel Burden referred to the following overview. Molash PC confirmed they had read the agenda notes.
The Forester magazine was originally run by the church and transferred to Challock Parish Council. Due to problems collecting subscriptions both Challock and Molash Parish Councils agreed to meet the costs of running the Forester out of the precept (28th October Parish Minutes 2004). Calculation of Molash contributions were agreed and are invoiced in advanced at the beginning of the financial year. This has operated for the past 12 years with the exception of 2016/17 & 2017/18 invoices have been sent out later in the financial year.
At the Challock parish meeting 21st July 2016 Councillor Sarah Williams and Clerk Tina Cobourn Molash PC requested more involvement in the Forester. It was agreed to form a sub-committee consisting of Councillor Annabel Burden and Emma Fox for Challock PC and Councillor Sarah Williams and Clerk Tina Cobourn representing Molash PC with Clerk Di Sandy as administrator and minute taker. The Editor of the Forester Mick Maidens was invited to attend the Forester Sub-Committee.
It was agreed by the sub-committee to strive towards reducing our costs and investigate ways to increase revenue. Molash informed the sub-committee their contribution is a large amount that comes out of their budget/precept and would like to reduce this as much as possible.
At the meeting on the 22nd September 2016 it was agreed to increase advertising on ½ and full pages. The change of printers to Ashford Borough Council in 2015, Mick Maidens was able to introduce a premium price for advertising on 3 full colour pages.
Councillor Sarah Williams and Clerk Tina Cobourn for Molash PC and Mick Maidens have brought in new advertisers amounting to £872 for the Forester during 2017. Advertisers who did not continue amounts to £480, however a further 2 advertisers of £220 invoices are outstanding may not renew.
Challock PC has reduced staff costs with the Clerk’s time spent on the Forester reduced from 10 to 8 hours per issue. However, the Clerk’s hours spent on the Forester for February 2018 is currently 22 hours.
Through the sub-committee meetings it became apparent that Molash contributions have not been reconciled for the past 10 years and has produced an overpayment of £250. Challock PC issued an invoice for Molash Contributions in January for £247 based on estimated forecast with 50% refund of overpayment and therefore invoice for £125 for financial year 2017/18. There is an outstanding query regarding the overpayment calculations.
Challock PC requests that Molash contribution is paid before the end of this financial year.
At the sub-committee meeting on 16th November 2017 the terms of reference were reviewed and agreed for self-funded element to be included. There was a general consensus to increase advertisements and for Clerk Tina Cobourn Molash PC to create a model to check revenue/costs outcomes before proposing the new advertisement charges. It was agreed to gauge parishioner’s opinion regarding subscription charge for the Forester magazine. It was agreed for the Clerk to place a notice in the Forester and Tina Cobourn to include it on Challock Chatter. The proposals of the sub-committee were presented at Challock Parish Meeting on 16th November 2017.
At the meeting parish councillors expressed their concerns at increasing advertising charges and introducing a subscription and were happy with the way the Forester is run and did not wish to implement further changes for the time being. Under the parish forum, parishioners in attendance said they were happy with the Forester. In December’s issue of the Forester under parish council news a request for feedback on the Forester was posted. The Parish Council received 2 emails and a letter from parishioners stating they were happy with the Forester. Copies were available at meeting.
There has been recent activity on social media Challock Chatter regarding the Forester. Molash PC to provide details of feedback.
Open Discussion Self-funding
Di Sandy Clerk Challock PC circulated details of an email to the committee from ABC Ward Councillor Larry Krause.
“Having gone over all the figures supplied I find and would recommend their implementation as supplied. The share each parish needs to pay is proportionate and fair.
Should this snow arrive and I not be able to attend tonight please let the meeting know that in my opinion the share as proposed is very fair and should be agreed”
The outcome of Forester Overview and recent emails between the two PC’s the following were discussed:-
Molash PC gave a handout of reconciliation of Molash PC Contributions for Financial year 2004/05 to 2016/17, showing an accumulative overcharge £267 for period 2007/08 to 2016/17. Highlighted in yellow question mark over financial years 2004/05, 2005/06 & 2006/07 and staff costs for financial years 2015/16 & 2016/17.
Molash PC requested that Challock PC provides advertising revenue and costs for financial years 2004/05, 2005/06 & 2006/07.
Discussion took place regarding going back 14 years. Challock PC Clerk explained that the accounts were computerised from 2007/08 and would need to look into the archives for records of accounts for financial years 2004/05 to 2006/07.
Councillor Annabel Burden raised her concerns the forester is becoming too time consuming and Molash PC will need to allow time for the clerk to look up the financial records.
Molash PC expressed their concerns regarding Challock PC’s decision in not increasing the advertising revenue that was agreed at the Sub-Committee. Councillor Emma Fox explained the process of the Forester Sub-Committee is to come to agreement and make proposals which Challock PC comes to a final decision. Councillor Annabel Burden said that during the Parish Council Meeting Councillors raised their concerns regarding the increases and how this might impact on the Forester. Emma Fox commented this was a clear decision made by Challock PC and we now need to move forward from this.
Councillor Annabel Burden Challock PC informed the committee that Challock PC would be happy to take on the Forester.
Challock PC view is that over the past 12 months advertising charges have increased staff costs reduced and increased revenue has resulted in the deficit reduced by 40% and Molash Contribution from £425 in 2016/17 to forecast of £247 for 2017/18.
Challock PC would like to recommend the following:
1. Forester Sub-Committee meets 1 to 2 occasions per annum to review the Forester and to meet at Molash Village Hall.
2. For the time being concentrate on generating new advertisers but be mindful that village news/information is not compromised.
3. To give consideration in increasing the ¼ page adverts from £60 to £65 to commence in financial year 2019/20.
4. Challock PC does not wish to introduce a subscription for their parishioners.
5. The Clerk can provide a monthly report to Molash PC providing details of income, costs and update on advertisements
Councillor Annabel Burden referred the committee members to listed recommendations by Challock PC.
Councillor Julia Phebey commented that they prefer more regularly meetings at least on a quarterly basis.
Councillor Max Thomas and Councillor Emma Fox commented that quarterly meetings are acceptable providing there is a need to meet.
Councillor Trevor Smith commented the quarterly meeting should not only examine the advertising and financial aspect for to do this would only promote a village flyer, time should be set aside to discuss editorial content to make it more attractive to village readers. All agreed.
Councillor Sarah Williams commented that consideration in rising a quarter page to £65 for financial year 2019/20 seems a long way off.
Di Sandy Clerk Challock PC enquired about the revenue/costs model Tina Cobourn Clerk Molash PC was going to devise. Tina Cobourn confirmed she would create a model.
Councillor Julia Phebey informed the committee that their parishioners do not wish to pay a subscription.
Councillor Annabel Burden said she has always been mindful of Molash PC precept when discussing the Forester.
Councillor Julia Phebey Molash PC commented that there have been no increases in advertising for the past 10 years. Advertisers would expect an increase.
Councillor Emma Fox Challock PC commented that we need a clearer picture, facts and figures behind us so that we can report back to Challock PC confidently.
Discussion took place concerning Clerk’s hours spent on the Forester. Clerk explained that 8 hours per forester issue is allocated previously to 2016 were 10 hours. Clerk’s time spent on invoicing, chasing and accounts. Costs of stationary, stamps and telephone calls are included in staff costs. Molash PC Clerk enquired if Challock PC Clerk contributes any voluntary time to the forester. Clerk responded that time spent collecting the foresters from the printers at Ashford Borough Council is not added to staff costs. Discussion took place regarding the Clerk encouraging BACS payments rather than cheques or cash as well as using emails rather than posting invoices. Clerk said that BACS payments are being used more but some advertisers still prefer invoices posted and paying by cheque and the odd cash payment. Councillor Annabel reminded Councillors that the Clerk’s hours spent on the Forester was acceptable and Challock PC are happy with the Clerk’s allocated time spent on the Forester though have concerns that the forester is becoming too time consuming. Clerk confirmed time spent on the Forester for February totals 22 hours this is due to responding to Molash PC’s email, preparation for Forester Meeting, agenda notes, time spent researching previous minutes.
Councillor Emma Fox asked if Councillors could assist the clerk with the forester.
Clerk Challock PC commented that Councillors role is to instil community ethos and the Forester is an avenue for this. Advertisements compliment the Forester.
Discussion took place regarding the forester content with regards to advertisements and voluntary clubs and padding to fill the pages.
Councillor Annabel Burden Challock PC commented that our parishioners are happy the way the Forester is run and Mick Maidens does a good job. Challock Parish Council would be happy to take on the Forester by ourselves.
Councillor Sarah Williams asked about the Editor’s fees going out to tender. Councillor Annabel Burden explained that she had a telephone conversation with Mick Maidens regarding the tendering process and it was agreed to not increase Editors fees.
Tina Cobourn Clerk commented that this was not communicated back to Molash PC.
Councillor Annabel Burden agreed said she would be happy to email Molash in the future.
Councillor Julia Phebey commented Molash PC would like the missing figures for 2004/05 & 2005/06 regarding Molash Contributions so we know where we stand. Tina Cobourn Clerk commented that reconciliation did not occur and is an inherited issue.
Molash PC confirmed they would accept the outcome and that the contributions overpayment may be reduced.
Di Sandy Clerk requested Molash PC to pay their contributions for £247 and to resolve the overpayment once all figures have been received. Challock and Molash PC agree to the current overpayment figure.
Molash PC agreed to pay the outstanding contributions invoice. Di Sandy Clerk to re-issue the invoice.
Molash PC confirmed they would like to receive a monthly Forester report.
Meeting Closed 8.30 pm.
Date of next meeting
It was agreed for the Forester Sub-Committee Meeting for Monday, 21st May 2018 at 7.30 pm Molash Village Hall.