Due to the aftereffects of the pandemic throughout 2021/22, the Charter Trustees of Poole underspent against their approved budgets by £31,734. The underspend plus the budgeted contribution to reserves of £1,420 has been added to the opening reserves position of £85,577 to give total reserves carried forward of £118,731 as at 31 March 2022.
Matt Filmer, Responsible Financial Officer – RFO presented a report on the budget outturn for 2021-22, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'B' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The RFO explained that the figures in the report fed into the accounting section of the AGAR. The Charter Trustees was advised that throughout 2021/22, the Charter Trustees of Poole underspent against their approved budget by £31,734. The RFO explained that the activities of the Charter Trustees had been hampered by the pandemic. The underspend plus the budgeted contribution to reserves of £1,420 had been added to reserves. The RFO reported that the detail of the outturn was set out at Appendix A to the report. He explained that the Charter Trustees started the year with just over £85,000 reserves with total reserves carried forward of just over £118,000 as at 31 March 2022. The Charter Trustees were advised that the level of reserves accounted for 85% of the overall precept for 2022/23 which the RFO explained was high and consideration would be given to how the reserves could be used for one-off activities but also support the budget going forward. Officers responded to questions on the detail of the outturn position.
Councillor Judes Butt referred to the previous arrangements whereby badges were presented to the past Mayor, past Deputy Mayor and past Sheriff she reported that she did not know why the provision of past Sheriff’s badges had stopped. She suggested in view of the reserves position that the arrangement of presenting a past Sheriff’s badge be reintroduced. Councillor Judes Butt requested that a past Sheriff’s badge be offered to previous Sheriffs in Poole who had not received them. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Daniel Butt.
Councillor Hadley asked in view of the budget position was it necessary to take such a high precept the following year. The RFO explained that the Charter Trustees had a choice similar to what was undertaken this year where some of the reserves were used to freeze the precept the same approach could be adopted for 2023/24 where reserves could be used to reduce the precept. He highlighted that this would be one-off funding so it would be necessary to consider the impact going forward. The Charter Trustees were reminded that there would be a budget workshop to address some of the issues that had been raised and the direction of travel which would aid discussions on the precepting arrangements for the next financial year.
Councillor Judes Butt reminded Charter Trustees of the purpose of her proposal relating to the past Sheriff’s badge. The Deputy Head of Democratic Services reported that research could be undertaken on the cost of the past Sheriff’s badges and reported to the Charter Trustees. Councillor Earl supported the principle but before commitment wanted to know the cost implications. Councillor Stribley indicated that she sympathised with the proposal whilst explaining the decision was taken to stop presenting the badge on financial grounds largely because the Sheriff almost always goes on to be Mayor and the mayoral badge takes precedence and was generally worn on other public occasions. Councillor Le Poidevin reported that it would be appropriate to give a Sheriff who does not become Mayor for any reason a past Sheriff’s badge but emphasised that she did not see the point of a past Sheriff’s badge if the individual becomes Mayor as they would receive a past Mayor’s badge. In particular she reported that that it was not necessary to have a past Deputy Mayor’s badge as the individual would already have received the past Mayor’s badge. The Mayor suggested that this was an issue that the proposed Working Group could look at. He highlighted the last budget workshop and the need for follow up on the issues raised whilst suggesting that the workshop should be held earlier in the process. The Charter Trustees were informed that the cost of the past Sheriff and past sheriff’s lady or escort’s badges was in the region of £1800. The Civic Team Leader, Carolyne Suter reported that the past Sheriff’s badges stopped just after Peter Adams became Sheriff and was part of the Democratic Services budget savings. The Charter Trustees were informed that the past Sheriff’s badge would be worn once at the Sheriff’s Convention. Councillor Judes Butt reported that she had undertaken research and all the past sheriffs in the Country received a badge or some form of recognition. The Mayor as previously mentioned suggested that the matter be referred to the Working Group.
In response to a question Charter Trustees were advised of the proposal relating to the setting up of a Civic Working Group. The Deputy Mayor commented on the need to have the relevant officers in attendance at the Working Group to provide the necessary advice and guidance.
Councillor Earl referred to the use of reserves and the various options highlighting that when the issue was first raised there was discussion about arranging an event and suggested having a sub-group of Charter Trustees to look at the civic calendar with a budget to decide what events the civic party and the wider Charter Trustees should take part in, fund and organise.
RESOLVED that the
(a) Charter Trustees note the budget outturn position for 2021/22.
(b) proposal for the introduction of the past Sheriff’s badge be considered by the proposed Working Group.
(c) suggestion set out above on the use of reserves be considered as appropriate.
Voting - Unanimous