Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Church Road Car Park

One of the best things that the Parish Council has done in recent years has been to convert an area of waste ground in Church Road, Shilton into a public car park. Like many villages throughout the country, a significant number of houses in Shilton were built before the off-road parking needs of residents were a consideration. People therefore had little choice but to leave their cars parked on the road, made worse when friends and family came to visit. This was a particular problem for residents in Church Road, and added to those already caused by cars and lorries speeding into the village from the direction of Ansty.

The car park hasn't come cheap (the Parish Council itself has contributed over £18,000 to the cost of the project from its savings, and other funding has come in the form of grants), but I believe it's made a real improvement to the area, both in providing somewhere for residents to park their cars, and in making the entrance into Shilton safer for through traffic by removing much of the on-street parking that used to occur.

It's therefore disappointing that Rugby Borough Council has seen fit to charge the Parish Council nearly £800 per year in Business Rates for the car park. This is despite Rugby actually owning much of the site itself and leasing it to the Parish Council for a peppercorn rent in recognition of the community value a car park provides. Even the best endeavours of Borough Councillor Neil Campbell have been unable to influence the resolve of Rugby's Finance department to receive the monies they consider now due.

The upshot of this is that the budget for the Parish Council will need to increase by £800 next year just to cover future years' Business Rates for the car park. Given that the entire amount that residents in Barnacle and Shilton pay through the Council Tax towards the Parish Council's spending is only around £15,500 a year, and you can begin to see the effect that this sort of expenditure can have on the Parish Council's finances.

The car park is an asset to the parish, and it was right that money was spent providing for it, but it's a clear lesson that making things better almost always costs money, and we all need to be prepared to pick up the tab when the bills need paying.

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