Parish Council Staff Costs

It has been raised at recent meetings and in the local press that the staff costs at the parish council are perceived to be too high.

Several strategic decisions were taken by the corporate body between 2016 – 2018 which were not planned in the annual budget. The council did not consider the virement of funds or set budgets to accommodate these mid-year changes. This led to the council’s reserves being used to fund the staff costs that resulted in these strategic decisions. Without a business plan to consider the impact on staffing levels the council did not assess the potential risks against reward for the decisions that were taken. The circumstances surrounding the depletion of reserves have been well documented in the independent financial review report of 2020.

Examples of decisions that impacted staff costs are as follows:

 

  • Maintaining a contractual agreement with Ebbsfleet United FC without allocating an expenditure budget to provide catering and staffing requirements to service the contract nor managing the impacts on the expenditure of the council.
  • Moving from a fixed price grounds maintenance contract to employing an inhouse grounds team mid-year when budgets had already been set significantly lower than the costs of employing in-house.
  • Appointing an ex parish councillor as a self-employed consultant to run events at the Community Centre without adjusting expenditure budgets or setting budgets for the costs to be managed against or utilising existing staff.
  • The expanding of roles and responsibilities of staff without consideration of the impact on job descriptions led to an increase in salary scales in the job evaluation.
  • The Sports Park Committee insisting that the Sports Park Manager work weekends when the facility was being covered by lower grade staff to keep costs low.
  • Transferring the management of the Sports Bar Café back to the parish council and employing the required management and staff to service this without setting an expenditure budget to do so.
  • Paying settlements to staff outside of the staff costs budget to prevent future legal challenges to the council.
  • Employing additional catering staff in order to reduce queuing times in response to complaints passed to councillors from Kings Hill Football Club. 
  • Employing additional catering staff to serve high quality food and beverage (Sunday Carvery) 
  • Offering to staff free of charge to externally organised Sports Park events. 

Now that the parish council has resolved to proceed with tmactive as the third party management of Kings Hill Sports Park a large amount of staff costs will transfer to the new provider.  This will result in the projected staff costs of the parish council being less than what they were in 2015.

For further information please read the full staffing report.

The staffing report was discussed at the Finance & Human Resources Committee in January and it was agreed that the council's staff costs were not a concern to the committee as suitable strategies are in place to address any issues.

Full Staff Report 

Key Decisions following Financial Investigation

Third Party Management of Kings Hill Sports Park 
Background

As identified in the independent financial investigation below the acquisition of the Sports Park was a major financial and management commitment for Kings Hill Parish Council, and whilst intentions were positive and community oriented, the investigator could not identify a robust and strongly managed business plan from the outset. Financial control was lost, resulting in major spending without adequate understanding of the consequences on income or the parish council’s capacity to continue sustaining the losses.

The investigator recommended that the council should seek to identify a professional community sports and leisure management company to take over day to day control of the Sports Park. In so doing the council will reduce the financial and operational risk inherent in direct management.  Full Council voted to implement the recommendations in December 2020.

Kings Hill Parish Council does not own the Sports Park, it is owned by Rouse Kent Residential Limited (RKRL) represented by Liberty Property Trust and the parish council has a long term lease to run the facility for the community, with no option to surrender.

Since March 2020 the parish council has been seeking alternative management options. The decisions for an alternative management option sit with the freeholder, RKRL. The parish council has no powers to decide who can run the Sports Park.

Minutes of meetings, decisions and the full tmactive proposals have been viewed and discussed in the public domain and all of the details are published on the parish council website under the Committee and Meetings page.

The decision to proceed with tmactive was taken at Full Council in December 2020 (at a public meeting) and the full council meeting held on Wednesday 17th February 2021 was the next stage of contract negotiation, which is not permitted to take place in the public domain as the contracts are subject to legal privilege at this time.

 

Decision taken the Full Council Meeting - 17th February 2021

To approve the tmactive sublease and management agreement for Kings Hill Sports Park, for associated legal works to be carried out by Berry and Lambert solicitors and completion of the transaction by the proper officer in consultation with the Sports Park Lease Working Group.

After consideration it was RESOLVED to approve the proposed tmactive sublease and management agreement and to proceed with the legal works to completion.

Cllr Barker requested a recorded vote.

FOR

Cllr Barker

Cllr Colman

Cllr Finlay

Cllr Kassem-Toufic

Cllr Kirk

Cllr Redding

Cllr Sherlaw

Cllr Waller.

AGAINST

Cllr Bridger

Cllr Falzon-Thomas

Cllr Petty

Cllr Zahidi

Sports Park Lease Report put before council on 17th February 2021 

 

Parish Council Independent Financial Investigation

Kings Hill Parish Council commissioned the Local Council Consultancy to review its financial and governance arrangements, with particular regard to actions taken and consequences resulting in relation to Kings Hill Sports Park. The formal approval of this appointment is contained in the Finance and Human Resources Committee minutes of 22 July 2020:

To note procurement procedure is underway to appoint a professional body to verify Cllr Finlay’s financial report.

It was reported that a quotation has been received from a professional body.

It was RESOLVED to proceed with the quotation from the SLCC consultancy.

A recorded vote was requested by Cllr Finlay.

FOR

Cllr Finlay

Cllr Barker

Cllr Waller

Cllr Sherlaw

AGAINST

Cllr Petty 

The report is back and Full Council have voted to proceed with all the recommendations.