DRAFT BUSINESS PLAN
Revised July 2021
- Chairman’s Introduction
- The purpose of the Business Plan
- Melton Village Profile
- Melton Parish Council
- How the Parish Council operates
- The Business Plan Framework
- The Council’s Forward Business Plan
- How Melton Parish Council commits to communicating with its residents
Melton Parish Council continually develops a vision for the parish into a Plan that shares its purpose, values, objectives and key priorities on what we can achieve, either alone or by working with partners such as East Suffolk District Council and Suffolk County Council.
The Parish Council builds on and develops the Business Plan as circumstances change to give Melton residents a clearer understanding of what the Parish Council can do and what it is striving to achieve for the benefit of its residents.
This Business Plan is normally reviewed annually and used in the budgeting process to include planned activities for each coming year which can be monitored against key priorities.
Melton Parish Council has become more proactive rather than reactive in its decision-making by operating in a more co-ordinated and consistent way. The Business Plan helps our local community to have a better understanding of what we do and improves accountability.
There are occasions when the Council must make decisions contrary to our stated commitments if budget constraints, new legislation or changes in policies make that necessary. However, any changes will eventually be reflected in an updated Business Plan.
To ensure this Business Plan is consistent with our residents’ wishes, we seek help from the community. We periodically consult on the Plan’s contents through our website, flyers/posters, social media, meetings and columns in the Melton Messenger and In Touch. We request and respond to feedback. Please tell us what you think about it as we welcome your comments.
The Business Plan is aimed at reflecting the priorities of Melton Parish Council for the coming year. We are committed to running the Council as efficiently and smoothly as possible. We set ourselves a high standard of professionalism and aspire to maintain good health of the Parish Council’s financial resources.
We aim to manage our community assets on behalf of the village, namely the Melton playing fields, play parks, the woodland at Leeks Hill and Burkes Wood, the tennis courts, the pavilion, together with other parcels of amenity land distributed across the parish divested in March 2021 from East Suffolk Council.
We are determined to safeguard the legacy of these assets for the benefit of current and future residents. Melton Parish Council has come a long way in the last few years and much has already been achieved. I intend that this process will continue as you can see from the interesting projects included in this plan.
Chair – Melton Parish Council
The purpose of the Business Plan
The aim of the Business Plan is to set out for Melton residents a clear narrative on the responsibilities of Melton Parish Council (MPC), what it spends its money on, both in terms of day to day expenditure and planned projects, and how it supports residents and delivers services within the parish. It will also help to clarify what the Council can and can’t do, and how it works with other relevant providers of services, such as Suffolk County Council (SCC) and East Suffolk District Council (ESC). The aim is both for MPC to operate in a more co-ordinated and strategic way in both managing its assets on a daily basis and in planning to meet the future needs of its residents. In so doing it will also aid transparency and accountability, in that the direction of the Council will be clearly set out in one document, together with any challenges that it faces. MPC will aim to consult on any major decisions that are required to be taken and which might impact significantly on the contribution that residents make via their Council Tax. It will be updated regularly and be available on the Council’s website.
The Business Plan is separate from the Melton Neighbourhood Plan which sets out the development plan for the parish over the period to 2030. The link to the Melton Neighbourhood Plan is here: www.meltonneighbourhoodplan.co.uk
MPC’s accounts and overall financial position can be viewed on the website www.melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk where the Annual Return and accounts are published. Regular detailed financial reports to both the Finance, Employment and Risk Management Committee (FERM) and Full Council meetings are also published on the website. This Business Plan is designed to provide a coherent narrative to the Council’s financial and business strategy.
Melton Village Profile
Melton is a large village lying on the River Deben. For many years, it has had a strategic role as the lowest crossing of the River Deben. This still holds true today.
The village centre is about 2.0 km (1¼ miles) from the centre of the market town Woodbridge. Melton lies within or close to the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and two Special Landscape Areas (SLAs).
Melton is a village which has seen significant and rapid growth, with several large residential estates having been built in recent years. Further developments are under construction or seeking approval for development, whilst the future of the site of the former Suffolk Coastal District Council offices at Melton Hill is still undecided. Melton is a scattered village; however most of its population of around 4,000 live within 1km (less than a mile) of the historic centre, with its church, primary school and local shops.
Melton has also developed as a centre for light industry and commerce, with over 70 businesses identified as being based within the village including the ESC offices at Riduna Park.
In terms of facilities, its primary school has been rated as “Good” by Ofsted. It boasts a wide range of voluntary and other bodies which provide fellowship and a sense of community through their activities. The Burness Parish Rooms provide a well subscribed place for organisations to meet in the centre of the village, whilst a well-supported local church, the Woman’s Institute, a village produce association and a community farm are just a few of the very many spiritual, social and community organisations operating within the village.
Melton is situated close to several well used public spaces including the village playing fields and woodland, bridle paths, walking trails and the Deben River. A recent walking leaflet with circular trails was created by MPC in conjunction with SCC.
The 2011 census recorded the population as 3,741, which continues to increase. There are now over 2,000 households. It is one of the largest of Suffolk’s parishes outside of the main urban centres.
Melton Parish Council
MPC is the first tier of civil local government, closest to the community and has a key role to play in promoting and representing the interests of residents. MPC, which is non-political, is made up of 15 volunteer Councillors. Elections take place every four years, the last one being in May 2019, when existing councillors who offered themselves for re-election were returned unopposed and the remaining and subsequent vacancies filled by co-option.
The Council elects a Chair and Vice-Chair annually at the Council’s Annual General Meeting and reports to the wider electorate at the Annual Parish Meeting, which is normally held in April. The Parish Council’s AGM is held in May. Councillors are unpaid and receive no recompense for their time spent on parish duties other than mileage for MPC related travel at the standard local government rate applicable at the time.
Parish Councils have a wide range of discretionary powers (but very few duties). These can include the provision of recreation grounds, public open spaces and recreational facilities; the provision of shelters and seats, litter and dog bins, allotments, community centres, public buildings and village halls catering for a wide range of activities, the giving of grants to local community organisations and the power to acquire and maintain land for public open spaces and amenity. In conjunction with the Highways authority (in Suffolk this is SCC) it can work to improve highways and parking facilities. Most importantly it has a legal right to be notified of any planning application made for a site within the MPC area and to have its comments taken into consideration by the local planning authority (ESC).
One of MPC’s most important responsibilities is the management, maintenance and improvement of its community assets; namely the playing field in Melton Road and the adjoining Burkes Wood. Both these important facilities have been in Council ownership since the 1950s, and provide very well used facilities for sport and recreation. In the Spring of 2021 ESC divested 21 parcels of land to MPC including the Beresford Drive play area, Hall Farm Road Sports Ground, the woodland adjoining Burkes wood and an area of land by the river Deben.
How the Parish Council operates
Melton Parish Council carries out its statutory duties in the following ways:
- Aiming to meet as a full council on a minimum of 6 occasions a year to deal with the business of the Council, and running these meetings within the Standing Orders of the Council. All full council meetings are open to the public with a period set aside for members of the public to address Councillors.
- The Council works to its Standing Orders and Financial Regulations, which
lay down the rules by which it operates and conducts business. The MPC Standing Orders and Financial Regulations are based on models prepared by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), updated and amended to meet local requirements as necessary. They are available on the Council’s website at melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk
- All Parish Councillors are expected to adhere to the Council’s Code of
This is also based on a national model. MPC first adopted this in 2012 and it has been readopted (with minor amendments) in 2017 and again in 2019 and 2021.
- The Chair of the Council will report to the Annual Parish Meeting in April of each year to review the activities of the previous year and to give an opportunity for residents to raise any issues of concern.
MPC has established three committees under delegated powers, which are reviewed annually, for the purposes of more effectively carrying out its day-to-day business. These are:
- Finance, Employment and Risk Management Committee (FERM)
- Planning and Transport Committee
- Recreation Committee.
Members are appointed to committees at the Council’s Annual General Meeting. The Chair and the two Vice-Chairs are on all Council committees. For further details of these committees, their membership, terms of reference and the agendas, reports and minutes, please go the MPC website at www.melton-suffolk-pc.gov.uk
The responsibilities of the committees are summarised below. As with the Full Council, all committee meetings are open to the public.
Finance, Employment and Risk Management Committee (FERM)
This meets bi-monthly.
The FERM Committee considers the financial matters of the Council including its accounts, audit, annual return, banking, insurance, preparing the budget, and reporting financial information to the full Council on a regular basis. It is responsible for the Council’s accommodation and also for the Council’s Risk Management Strategy and for ensuring that its employees are provided with the appropriate contracts, job descriptions and terms and conditions of employment.
Planning and Transport Committee
This meets every 6 weeks (or as required).
As part of the statutory planning process, ESC as the local planning authority has to consult MPC on planning applications. Planning and Transport Committee scrutinises large numbers of applications and submits its observations to ESC which is obliged to consider them in the decision-making process.
The Highways authority is SCC, and although highways and transport issues are not areas on which MPC has a right to be consulted, they are extremely important to residents. Consequently, MPC aims to ensure residents’ views are known and taken account of in the Highways’ decision-making processes. MPC is also involved in facilitating community consultation on road improvement matters and, by working closely with Highways and investing its own funds, can improve highway safety and amenity within the village.
This meets bi-monthly.
The Recreation Committee is responsible for the management, maintenance and promotion of the playing field, the pavilion, play equipment, and the tennis courts, and all the land that MPC owns, including extensive areas of woodland.
The playing field in Melton Road is one of the proudest possessions of the village. It provides football pitches, tennis courts and play equipment with safety surfacing.
Parish Council Staff
The Parish Council employs three part time employees:
- The Clerk and Executive Officer to the Council is William Grosvenor. He administers the Council and carries out all the functions required by law. He is also the Council’s Responsible Finance Officer (RFO).
- Pip Alder is employed as the Assistant Clerk and Management Officer.
- Phil Donoghue is the Parish Council’s Maintenance Officer.
The Business Plan Framework
The Business Plan will be the main way of communicating what the Council is doing to manage its assets responsibly and meet the needs of the community. Accordingly it will be reviewed and updated regularly.
MPC welcomes comments and feedback on this plan. Additionally at the start of each Full Council or Committee meeting there is an item on the agenda which allows questions to be put to Councillors on relevant topics. The dates and times of the Council’s meetings are published on the MPC website. Comments may also be sent by letter to: The Clerk to the Council, 17 Riduna Park, Station Road, Melton, Woodbridge IP12 1QT or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year the Council has to decide what it is going to do in the next financial year and what it is likely to cost. Once it has agreed its budget it then asks ESC for the money it needs by way of what is called a Precept on the Council Tax. It must do this in January each year. ESC then includes the parish element as a part of the Council Tax for the following financial year starting from 1 April. Most of the Council’s income comes from the Precept, although MPC does raise other income via grants and income generated from hire fees for the playing field, tennis courts etc. Due to the reduction of interest rates generally, MPC only receives minimal interest from its deposit account at Barclays Bank and Ipswich Building Society. In response to increased bank charges, the Council has additionally opened a Treasurer’s account with Lloyds Bank, which provides free banking provided that the amount deposited does not exceed £50,000.
For the year from April 2021 to March 2022 the Council has asked for a precept of £93,706.34. Overall income in 2021/22 is likely to be in the region of £117,581 (apart from Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) income – see below) with the balance made up from grants and fees.
Budgeted expenditure for MPC in 2021/22 is £124,989. Although this will create an in-year deficit of around £7.5k, this can be absorbed by the Council’s existing balances and payment of some items using CIL. The main areas of expenditure over the next 18 months are:
- Administration of the Council, including salaries, insurance, office expenses, together with the repayment of the Treasury loan taken out for the purchase of the Council’s office and meeting accommodation at 17 Riduna Park
- Maintenance and improvement of the Council’s assets, including the recently divested land from East Suffolk, including the provision of improved facilities
- Rebuilding of the Pavilion at the Melton Road playing field
- Road safety improvements
- Landscaping and parking improvements in front of Winifred Fison House.
In December 2018, after years of occupying temporary accommodation, MPC purchased the freehold of 17 Riduna Park, Station Road, Melton. The repayment of the Treasury loan used to fund the purchase, at £19,640pa, is recouped by letting part of the building on a commercial lease at market rent. Overall this is a long-term investment for the community of Melton which will enable substantial savings in accommodation costs to be made in years to come.
As at 31 March 2021 MPC had balances totalling £555,212, consisting of general reserves of £63,971, earmarked reserves (for specific projects) of £214,687 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) monies totalling £276,554. The level of general reserves adequately protects against major problems requiring emergency funding which could otherwise adversely affect the Council’s business.
CIL / Grant Funded Projects
Community Infrastructure Levy is money paid by developers who are building in the parish. A proportion is given to County, District and MPC. Initially the proportion received by MPC was 15%; however on adoption of the Melton Neighbourhood Plan in 2018 the amount that MPC receives increased to 25%. The use of CIL is restricted in terms of both application and time. They have to be applied to projects in support of growth and if not applied within 5 years, or applied incorrectly, are subject to repayment to East Suffolk Council.
|Year||Amount of CIL received|