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0 votes
We have a volunteer group, who have signed an agreement to maintain (mostly mow, strim and enhance for wildlife) a field owned by the PC.  The group requested a sum of money to cover their costs.  They are a not for profit organisation.

The council ratified the agreement (which stipulated an annual sum) at the June PC meeting.  The council  knew that the money was needed to pay for insurance as well as costs.  They said without insurance, the group couldn't work on the field.

The paperwork for the group to sign was finally signed in October.

The clerk has now proposed to the group (after signing) that they should be paid every 3 months, in arrears.  She says there is no way they can be paid from June, and no way to pay other than in arrears.

The group have continued to maintain the field throughout the summer.

Is there a way to pay the group the pro-rata'd payment from June?  Can they be paid at the start of the 3 months, rather than at the end, so they don't need to accrue expenses prior to being reimbursed?

The clerk has ignored my request for an agenda item to discuss this issue at a council meeting.

by (410 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
Tricky one without full knowledge of the "agreement" terms and requirements. You say ratified by the PC so whatever they ratified is either unclear or incomplete in defining terms and conditions. With matters such as this everything should be defined to cover most eventualities and unforeseen events.

I assume that the volunteers group would use their own tools so ongoing costs are for working costs such as fuel, transport etc and disposal of waste and repairs and maintenance of machinery so the volunteers are not out of pocket in carrying out the work. It is not unreasonable to expect the insurance cover amount to be paid by the PC up front so work can commence and that the estimated and agreed running costs be spread equally over 12 months in equal monthly instalments which would require the group to manage the amounts to ensure that in the growing season the extra work is financed by cost savings made during the winter.

I cannot see what the clerks insistence is on 3 months in arrears except for attempted fiscal over prudence. Part of the agreement should be that accounts are presented and examined and refined for the follow on years. Volunteers need trust with light touch supervision not straight jackets to enthusiasm.
Other solution:- get a contractor in ( if you can find one) and pay through the nose, then examine the fiscal prudence !
by (27.1k points)
The agreement simply stated an annual cost, clearly stating that it needed to cover insurance and costs.  There was no mention of staged payments in the paperwork, or the discussion, although it was known the group needed money to finance the insurance.  Nobody was authorised to create the payment terms.

Is it possible to pay at the start, rather than the end of each period - whether that be monthly or quarterly?  Also, is it reasonable for the group to invoice the PC from June, when the agreement was voted on and agreed, or would it have to be once the paperwork was produced and signed by the clerk (4 months later)?
+1 vote
It’s for the PC to DIRECT the clerk how to pay for agreed services.
If the corporate body makes a decision the clerk implements it.
by (21.7k points)
Many thanks.  I thought this, but it is very difficult to implement when the clerk won't bring the agenda item to the meeting.  Our council is ruled by the Chairman, clerk and RFO - some councillors are unaware or unconcerned, and those who want it run correctly are labelled troublemakers.  A difficult situation.
+1 vote
If the Council asked the group to maintain the field from June, the Council should pay the group from June. You say that the Clerk has proposed to the group that they be paid quarterly in arrears, even though this wasn't in the agreement. I suggest that the group rejects this proposal and submits a counter-proposal. That would bring the matter back onto the Council's agenda.
by (53.3k points)
Many thanks to all. Very helpful.

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