Partnership Management Group
Minutes of the meeting held at 2pm on Thursday 29th January 2015
at Community First, Unit C2, Beacon Business Park, Hopton Park, Devizes SN10 2EY
PRESENT, MEMBERS AND ACTING MEMBERS:
Fleur de Rhé-Philipe (FdRP) Wiltshire Council (Chairman of Plain Action)
Catharina Davis (CD) Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce
Len Turner (LT) Wiltshire Business Advice Service
Dawn Lyndene (DL) 1 Artillery Brigade-SW-MCI
David Wildman (DW) Tidworth Community Area
Geraldine Wimble (EGW) Independent (Vice-Chairman)
DEPUTIES AND STAFF IN ATTENDANCE:
Alan Truscott (AT) Programme Manager, Plain Action
Lesley Thomas (LJT) Programme Assistant, Plain Action
Kate Forrest (KF) Wiltshire Council
Sarah Penfold (SP) Community First apprentice
Tony Pickernell (TP) Tidworth Community Area
Michael Mounde (MM) Chairman Heart of Wessex LAG
- 1.Welcome and Apologies
- 2.Conflict of Interest
- 3.Minutes of last meeting 4th December 2014
- 4.Matters arising
- 5.General Report (Paper B)
- 6.Financial Report (Paper C)
- 7.Project progress – Tables (Paper D) and
- 8.Project progress – Report (Paper E)
- RPA/RDT Report (NOT APPLICABLE TO THIS MEETING)
- Any Other Business
The Chairman welcomed SP and DL to the meeting, and introductions were made. Apologies were received from Andi Witcombe (NFU County Adviser Wiltshire), Graham Wright (Amesbury Community Area), Douglas Roseaman (Devizes Community Area) and Squadron Leader Andy Spiller (MOD / RAF Boscombe Down).
This was circulated for signature by those present. AT explained that any interest in the material for the projects being discussed should be declared, even if members were not directly involved - this would include family and direct associates. This would not necessarily mean that members were excluded from discussions, but from voting. In this way members may be able to supply further information on the organisations involved.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 4th December 2014, which had been circulated, were approved as a correct record.
187. General Report item 7 - Wiltshire Council had agreed to undertake the role of Accountable Body once again, keeping the ongoing relationship. Cotswold AONB had appealed its unsuccessful bid for funding, with a support letter from the Prime Minister, and a decision would be expected at the end of February.
189. and 190. –the new website is now set up. It is currently a skeleton site as there are no procedures to work to at present.
AT explained the delay in the funding coming on stream from Defra.
4.0 National Operations Manual – this had been awaited since March last year, and is expected to be available in March of this year. AT has responded to Defra’s draft of the Applicants’ Manual, which Defra now plans to re-draft following feedback. AT and KF had recently attended a meeting with Ian Hague in Exeter, where it was confirmed that the programme cannot be officially launched until a new government is in place following the election, so this would be June at the earliest.
5.0 ROD / CAP-D IT – DORA is to be Defra’s interim recording system adopted from ROD, the previous system, prior to the new CAP-D IT. It would be helpful if the new system were paper free, especially regarding claims, but this is doubtful.
6.0 Programme staff training – Defra has confirmed that there is no specific training budget so this will be covered by technical familiarisation sessions once the Operating Manual is out. It is hoped that these sessions for the local LAGs will be at Wiltshire Council offices, rather than having to go to Exeter.
7.0 Project Appraisals - The three local LAG managers had met with KF on 27th January and appraisers were discussed, with a view to sharing them to keep costs down.
Under the last round of funding there was one contract to cover the length of the programme, but henceforth contracts would be issued yearly rather than for the length of the programme, to follow the LEADER ethos. The contract will be in euros rather than sterling, with an agreed conversion rate. AT was concerned, however, that £100k had already been lost since last year, which could result in the programme running at the lower end of the indicative budget.
The official launch of the programme will be postponed until at least June from the originally suggested date in February.
AT was reluctant to suggest scenarios without knowing the exact funding. However, based on the higher level of funding there would be £255k for M&A costs over the 6¼ years of the programme, which AT proposed to split 50-50 with Vale Action as funding for the two programmes over all is so close. This avoids the need for staff to complete timesheets. The difference between the higher and lower allocations could mean, however, a difference of £16k, which may mean that staff need to review hours, possibly on a six-monthly basis. Alternatively, the programme may only run for three years if the money runs out, although this would affect the succession planning for the next programme.
4.0 Project Funding – As yet neither measures, etc. nor the interaction between LAGs and the LEP are known. It is probable that capital rather than revenue projects would be preferred, as dealing with salary costs has proved difficult. The RPA has assured that they do daily pay runs and projects will be paid directly and promptly. Heritage and forestry sector projects were still needed but there has been no interest at present. AT has met with the MOD Forestry Division on Salisbury Plain, and it has been suggested that funding contractors may be the way forward, as planting actual woodland would not produce a benefit during this programme. Ian Hague has suggested that priorities can be revisited if necessary, especially as there are more enquiries for business-related projects.
Both reports were in the standard format for future meetings, and within the guidelines as in the LDS, although it is unknown if these guidelines will change. Match funding varies according to project type and may change from 50%, as may the eligibility criteria. Projects will move through the stages and be reported at each meeting, with Defra and Plain Action priorities being compared. Members were happy with this reporting format.
Two more enquiries had been received since the papers were sent out – one from an engineering company at High Post for a milling machine and quality control equipment, which would result in doubling of their output and apprentice training, and the other from ISIS Technologies who make control panels and boxes for security lighting, working with the MOD. To date there are £1.2 million of potential applications; experience with the previous programme has proved that only 80% will come to fruition. LT emphasised that the larger projects need to test the financial market to seek funding on the open market, to avoid restricting funds to the wider community. There was a concern that there were a number of organisations coming forward that had been funded in the previous two tranches of funding. It is also hoped that the broader Defra team will be used to commercial business activities and will recognise the need for grant intervention, possibly adapting the eligibility criteria accordingly
The Open Day scheduled in February would be postponed as indicated earlier in the meeting.
At the meeting on 26th March there will be a familiarisation session as well as a general update on enquiries, and the Terms of Reference would be put together.
KF suggested that this interim period should be used to get the process and the partnership working, making it fit for purpose, and recruiting more members – a forestry representative and someone to represent the Devizes area were sought, and also those for the wider consultative group that will need to be set up.
The meeting closed at 2.45pm.
Approved as a correct record at the meeting held on 26th March 2015