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19th October 1999
Report of the Finance & General Purposes Committee Meeting held on Tuesday 19 October 1999 at 7.30 pm in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane
Present:- In the Chair:- Councillor C McHugh Councillors Mrs A Bell, D A Bresland, J Donnell, J Emery, D Hussey, T Kerrigan, T McBride, C McHugh, J McNulty, I Murtagh, J O’Kane, E Turner MBE Total = 13
In Attendance:- Clerk & Chief Executive, Financial Accounting Supervisor,
SCHEDULE OF ACCOUNTS
The Schedule of Accounts for the month of October 1999 was presented to the meeting, a copy of which was previously circulated. The Chief Executive and Financial Accounting Supervisor responded to queries by Members and accounts were shown as requested. Discussion ensued with particular reference to the following:-
British Telecommunications Plc - £25895.82
In response to a query by Councillor Barr, the Financial Accounting Supervisor advised that the equipment had been purchased by the Council from BT and that the previous equipment had been rented from Lloyds Communications.
Chestnut Kennels - £948.20
Following a query by Councillor Barr, the Financial Accounting Supervisor advised that the dog kennelling fees related to the month of September.
Crawford, Scally & Co. - £3105.38
The details of legal fees in relation to this account were shown to Councillor Barr, upon request.
Linton & Robinson Ltd - £4075.46
Following a query by Councillor O’Kane, the Financial Accounting Supervisor explained that the majority of this account related to replacement of tools following a theft from the Joiner’s Van. An insurance claim had been lodged but there was no guarantee of full recompense.
KPMG – £127,617.92
In response to a query by Councillor McNulty, the Financial Accounting Supervisor advised that this programme had been organised by the Economic Development Department and 18 no. Councils had contributed £98,311.00 and the balance would be recoverable from DED. The Chief Executive further advised that this cheque was being held until the relevant back-up information had been obtained and that additional expenditure by Council should not be incurred upon completion of the programme.
J P Gamble - £800.00
Following a query by Councillor Barr, the Financial Accounting Supervisor explained that this account related to pre contract designs for steelwork and foundations in respect of the transfer station at the Carricklee Refuse Site.
Sperrin Tourism Ltd - £6750.00
In response to a query by Councillor Barr, the Chief Executive reminded Members that the Council had agreed to the transfer of surplus funds from the Sperrin Tourism Partnership and to release its contribution to the new body upon receipt of written confirmation from an official of Sperrin Tourism Ltd that the other participating Councils had also agreed to the transfer of funds and to make their contributions. This was still awaited. Councillors Turner and O’Kane stated that confirmation had been received to this effect at the last Sperrin Tourism Ltd. meeting and that the Council would be contacted shortly in this respect.
Western Education & Library Board - £4660.00
In response to a query by the Chairman, the Financial Accounting Supervisor advised that this account was in respect of Community Relations bus hire of which £4,400 related to the Summer Scheme and the remaining £260 related to Lisnafin and Magheramason Twinning Project for journeys to Baronscourt and Castlearchdale.
Ulster American Folk Park - £750.00
Following a query by Councillor Emery, the Financial Accounting Supervisor advised that this account related to a member of staff from the Folk Park manning the Wilson Homestead during the summer months.
Louerne Homes Ltd - £284,105.60
Councillor Murtagh sought confirmation that this account completed the payments for the alterations and extension to the Council Offices except for the retention payment. The Financial Accounting Supervisor confirmed that the gross valuation to date was £1,505,014.00 less 2.5% retention. Councillor Barr queried whether the retention money would be of less value than the cost of completing the work at the Council Offices. The Chief Executive pointed out that this was a contractual matter and would be pursued by the Project Manager, the Council’s District Chief Building Control Officer, and a report brought back. Councillor Turner queried the final completion date for the contract and it was agreed that this also be reported to Council.
Summary of Bank Balances
The summary of bank balances as at 30.9.99 was adopted, on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor O’Kane.
William Keown Trust
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor O’Kane, seconded by Councillor Emery, that the Council make a similar contribution as the previous year to the William Keown Trust i.e. £300.
NI Victim Support
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor O’Kane, that the Council make a contribution of £200, the maximum permitted under Council policy, to this group.
William Keown Trust – 12th Annual Dinner
Members considered invitation received to the 12th Annual President’s Dinner to be held on 28 October at the Stakis Hotel, Templepatrick. The sterling work carried out by the Trust was acknowledged by Members.
Following discussion, Councillor Hussey proposed, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan, that the Council be represented at the Dinner. Councillors O’Kane and McNulty asked to be recorded as abstaining from this decision.
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor Mrs Bell, that the Chairman of the Council and Councillor Turner, or their nominees, attend the Dinner.
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Murtagh, seconded by Councillor Barr, that the Council make a contribution of £100, the maximum permitted under Council policy, to Co-Operation Ireland.
Costings for Conferences
The Chairman welcomed the estimated costs for conferences/seminars presented to Members for the Finance meeting, which had been circulated by the Chief Administrative Officer.
The Extern Organisation Annual Conference
Members considered details of this conference to be held on 28 October 1999 in the Mellon Country Inn, Omagh. Councillor Barr made reference to the invaluable work which this organisation carried out especially for young people and which was not widely publicised.
It was agreed on the proposal of Councillor Emery, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan, that one Member from each party plus the Independent attend and that the relevant names should be submitted to the Chief Executive as soon as possible.
Buildings At Risk
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor McBride, that one Councillor and an Officer, at the discretion of the Chief Executive, attend this conference to be held at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra, on 22 October 1999.
Sustainable Sperrins – Beyond 2000
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Hussey, seconded by Councillor Murtagh, that the Council’s representatives on Sperrin Tourism Ltd together with a representative of Sinn Fein attend this seminar to be held in the Ulster History Park on 27 October 1999.
Councillor Barr commented that it was his understanding that the Council had received a presentation from the Sperrin Advisory Council some time ago and had agreed not to subscribe to it and suggested that the Council’s minutes be checked accordingly. It was noted that the Chief Executive would be making a presentation at this seminar and he reassured Members that this was a partnership model and would investigate the wider sustainable development of the Sperrins region.
Local Authorities in Europe
Councillor Murtagh proposed, seconded by Councillor Mrs Bell, that Councillor Turner attend this conference to be held in Balmoral Conference Centre, Belfast on 11 and 12 November 1999. Councillor Turner indicated that he would not be attending the conference dinner.
Councillor Hussey proposed, seconded by Councillor Bresland, an amendment that the Council’s representatives on the National Association of Councillors or their nominees, together with an Officer, at the discretion of the Chief Executive, attend.
Voting took place on the amendment with seven Members in favour and none against.
The amendment became the substantive motion and was carried by twelve members in favour, one against and one abstention.
Protecting People and The Environment – Building Control Convention 1999
Councillor Hussey proposed, seconded by Councillor Bresland, that the Council’s representatives on the Building Control Committee plus an Officer, if deemed appropriate by the Chief Executive, attend the above conference, to be held in the Stakis Hotel, Templepatrick, on 18 and 19 November 1999. This was agreed.
E-Commerce E-Future for Successful Global Leaders
Councillor Barr proposed, seconded by Councillor Murtagh, that the Chief Executive or an Officer, at the discretion of the Chief Executive, attend this conference to be held in the Belfast Hilton International on 4 November 1999. This was agreed.
Councillor Kerrigan proposed, seconded by Councillor Barr, that Councillor Hussey also attend.
Voting took place and it was carried by nine votes with none against and one abstention.
Communication and the Environment
Councillor Turner proposed, seconded by Councillor Hussey, that the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Environmental Committee, or their nominees, together with an Officer, if deemed appropriate by the Chief Executive, attend this conference to be held on 11 November 1999 in the Lanyon Building, Queen’s University of Belfast. This was agreed with one Member abstaining.
Out of School Hours Childcare Information Seminars
Councillor Mrs Bell indicated that she had received an invitation from the Early Years Committee to attend this seminar to be held in the Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown, on 1 November 1999 and the Dunadry Hotel Country Club, Dunadry on 2 November 1999.
Councillor Hussey indicated that he could attend for part of the seminar in Cookstown en route to other business.
It was agreed, on the proposal on the proposal of Councillor McBride, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan, that Councillor Mrs Bell attend the Dunadry seminar and Councillor Hussey attend the Cookstown seminar.
Community Business Conference – Building Business Together
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor O’Kane, that two Councillors, or their nominees, together with an Officer, if deemed appropriate by the Chief Executive, attend this conference to be held in the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast, from 25 to 26 November 1999.
Competitive Town Centres – Responding to the Out of Town Retailing Challenge
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Kerrigan, seconded by Councillor Barr, that one Member from each party together with the independent member and an Officer, at the discretion of the Chief Executive, attend the conference to be held in Belfast Castle on 11 November 1999.
The CAP: From Beginning to End
Members considered invitation to attend a short-seminar series with a talk by Professor Sheehy, University College Dublin, on 26 October in the Queen’s University of Belfast.
Discussion ensued during which Councillor Turner expressed concern at the plight of the farming industry in NI which was on the verge of bankruptcy and in particular the pork industry at present. He also pointed out that two-thirds of the Council area was representative of the rural area and there was now an opportunity for the Council to show its support for the industry at this time. He also spoke of the publicity surrounding the closure of the bakery in Londonderry in contrast to the lack of publicity about the state of the industry. Councillor Donnell voiced concern at the imminent closure of the Mill in Artigarvan and the agricultural store. He also commented on the price differential between farm gate prices and supermarket prices to the detriment of the producers and urged that the local community be encouraged to buy local produce. Councillor Kerrigan voiced concern at the crisis in the pig industry and urged that the Council support the farming industry which was the largest employer in NI and suggested that the Council should have a full debate. Councillor Donnell referred to the ending of the Cull Calf Scheme which would result in calves being culled on the farm and which could have a serious environmental impact. Councillor Kerrigan pointed out that he would be attending a Fallen Animals meeting on 28 November and would provide the Council with an update. Councillor Hussey also urged that emphasis be placed on locally produced and processed foodstuffs.
Councillor Barr proposed that those Councillors involved in the agricultural industry attend the seminar. Given that places were limited to 35, it was agreed that Councillor Kerrigan be nominated to the first position.
It was also agreed that Councillor Conway be nominated into the second position, if available, and that Councillor Turner be nominated as a standby, if necessary.
The Chief Executive advised that he had spoken to Mr McLoughlin, UFU, recently on the whole agricultural debate and had in fact requested a copy of the scoping work carried out by UFU for Council’s consideration. This information was awaited.
It was unanimously agreed that the Chief Executive liaise with Councillor Murtagh regarding the setting up of a Special Council meeting, as a matter of urgency, to discuss the farming crisis with representatives of the UFU and NIAPA in attendance. It was further agreed that the Council issue a press release highlighting its intention to call a Special Council meeting in view of the severity of the situation.
Councillor Hussey queried whether Members would be in favour of t.v. cameras in the Chamber at the Special Council meeting. Councillor O’Kane indicated that he would be totally opposed to such an arrangement.
It was agreed that a Special Council Meeting be arranged as outlined above.
Launch of "Living with the European Union: The NI Experience"
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor McBride, seconded by Councillor Turner, that two Councillors attend the launch of the above book and that a copy be obtained for the Council in the event that its cost was not exorbitant.
Rural Transport Fund for NI
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan, that Councillor Emery attend this conference to be held in the Oaklin House Hotel, Dungannon, on 3 November 1999.
Councillor Emery advised that this issue formed part of the debate in Shaping Our Future particularly in relation to the Strategy for the Rural Communities and would be interested in attending the conference.
It was further agreed, on the proposal of Councillor O’Kane, seconded by Councillor McBride, that an Officer also attend.
Royal College of Nursing – NI Board Conference
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor Bresland, that Councillor Hussey attend the above conference to be held in the Stakis Park Hotel, Templepatrick on 17 November 1999.
Side by Side Women’s Group
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor O’Kane, that the Council contribute the sum of £50 to the above group towards a Grand Fundraising Candlelit Supper to be held on 26 October 1999 in aid of Strabane & Lifford Women’s Centre.
Use of Melvin Hall and Melvin Pitch
Members considered request received from Mary O’Kane, c/o Junior’s Bar for free of the pitch and Melvin Hall changing facilities for two soccer matches in aid of Foyle Hospice to be held on 24 October and 7 November 1999. Councillor O’Kane declared an interest in this.
Discussion ensued during which Councillor Barr stated that whilst supporting the fund-raising efforts, the Council had agreed in the past to charge a concessionary rate in respect of all such applications and a precedent could, therefore, be created.
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Barr, that this request be deferred until the Council’s policy was clarified prior to the first event. It was further agreed that the Council’s policy be highlighted in any communication with the organisers and that reference also be made to the Council’s generous donation to Foyle Hospice on an annual basis.
National Association of Councillors
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Turner, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan, that the Councillors on the National Association of Councillors attend the meeting to be held in the Riada Centre, Ballymoney on 20 October 1999. The Chairman indicated that he would not be attending.
It was agreed, on the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor McBride, that the meeting go "Into Committee".