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1 April 2020

Cooling Parish Council COVID 19 (Coronavirus) Business Continuity

Temporary Parish Council Policy Document

1.  Overview

Due to the uncertainty in respect of the spread of the Covid19/Corona Virus and in order to limit any risk to members of the public, elected Members or members of staff and notwithstanding any relative Government legislation or advice from relevant medical or any public body pertaining to best and safe practice, the following items were discussed as part of an ongoing contingency plan and to ensure the smooth running and operation (wherever possible) of the Parish Council over the interim period.

2.  Safety Statement

That the Parish Council recognises and agrees that no business, meeting, service provision or service delivery of the Authority is of any importance above that of public and personal safety. As such all scheduled public meetings will be cancelled for an initial 4 month period (or as circumstances dictate).

3.  Authority To Parish Clerk/RFO

That where, in any Standing Order or Financial Regulation of the Parish Council where delegated authority is already given to the Parish Clerk & RFO to be reviewed and updated.

4.  Suspension of Standing Orders and Regulations

That the Parish Council gives delegated authority to the Parish Clerk (in consultation with the Chair/Vice Chair of the Parish Council to: suspend any relevant Standing Order or Financial Regulation as necessary to ensure the smooth running and operation (wherever possible) of the Parish Council for a period of no longer than 4 months (or as circumstances dictate), with the Parish Clerk/RFO to compile and maintain a list of such suspensions and reasons which will be to be presented to Parish Councillors for scrutiny.

5.  Financial Management

That the Parish Clerk/RFO along with those elected Members with delegated responsibility for the authorising and signing of payments put measures in place with robust transparency processes to ensure effective business continuation and to minimise impact on local service delivery and local business with ratification by the Parish Council to be made at the earliest and safest opportunity

To review the spending limit to the Parish Clerk/RFO in consultation with the Chair/ Vice Chair of the Parish Council and increase any current limit as deemed appropriate for a period not exceeding 4 months from the date of resolution.

The Parish Clerk/RFO to maintain full accounts as far as possible and provide monthly reports on income, expenditure, bank account reconciliation and payment authorisation to the Parish Council for their review and approval.

That the Parish Clerk/RFO maintain the records for the Annual Audit for the Financial Year 2019-2020 and keep the Parish Council advised of any changes to requirement and dates for submission.

6.  Additional Delegated Authority

That the Parish Council gives additional delegated authority for a period of no longer than 4 months (notwithstanding relative Government legislation or medical/relevant body advice or best/safe practice)) to the Parish Clerk/Proper Officer/RFO in consultation with the Chair/ Vice Chair of the Parish Council to:

i)  undertake day to day duties (wherever possible and within legal constraints and with the best intentions of public safety and to promote infection control) in order to minimise disruption to service provision and ensure business continuity.

ii)  undertake decisive actions (within legal constraints and with the best intentions of public safety and to promote infection control) in respect of cancelling any meetings of the Parish Council, its committees or working groups.

iii)  to undertake decisive actions (within legal constraints and with the best intentions of public safety and to promote infection control) in respect of Parish Council activities, including public meetings.

7.  Council Meetings (Quorate and Decisions)

That as the cancellation of meetings has a direct impact on the Annual Council Meeting of the Parish Council ( (including change of the chairmanship of such) will be reviewed and where practicable, conducted by alternative means (i.e. Conference/Video Conferencing, Social Media, Email) and full record of proposals and resolutions retained for audit purposes.

Meetings and mode of meeting to be recorded as Extraordinary General Meetings and all resolutions to be proposed and seconded and decisions recorded as Extraordinary Parish Council Meetings.

It is noted that whilst the above decisions are contrary to existing legislation (as of 16th March 2020) the Parish Council has made these decisions in order to place public safety at the forefront.

8.  Planning Applications.

That the Parish Council deal with planning applications via email and gives delegated power to the Parish Clerk & RFO to collate responses and submit to Medway Council (on a majority basis).

9.  Staffing

Review the role and duties of both Parish Clerk/Proper Officer/RFO and make necessary adjustments to ensure staff safety is maintained. Review and agree continuing payment of current salaries including any agreed increase as determined by national policy (i.e. Joint Council and HMRC National Minimum Wage).

10. Policy

That delegation is afforded to the Parish Clerk to update policy documentation where revision dates are the only necessary updates and such updates to be ratified by the Parish Council at a future meeting. Where any legislative changes are necessary, the Parish Clerk will update relevant documentation and implement any necessary changes.

11. Community Groups

To offer impartial, practical advice to community groups and organisations in respect of their responsibilities to take decisive actions (with the best intentions of public safety and to promote infection control) in respect of cancelling events, meetings and gatherings; The Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) Communities and Volunteer Coordination Cell within the County Emergency Centre is currently operational providing a daily update from the Communities and Volunteer Coordination Cell (CVC) - The County Emergency Centre continues to work 7 days a week from 9am – 5pm. From Monday 30 March 2020 they will move from collation and into deployment and may contact Parish Councils directly to undertake tasks on behalf of the Kent Resilience Forum. This initial task will be to help the most vulnerable people who have already been identified within our communities.

12. General Information Updates

To keep elected Members (via email / telephone calls) and members of the public (via the Parish Council website and notice boards (where / when relevant and practicable)) updated on advice from (and as relevant): • Central Government & the NHS • Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) / Emergency Planning Team. • Kent County Council • Medway Council • Kent Police • South East Ambulance Service • Kent Fire and Rescue

13. Policy Review

Details outlined in this policy document to be reviewed monthly or in line with any instructions issued by Central Government, County or District Councils as necessary.