Last Wednesday night I attended the December meeting of Shilton Parish Council.
As well as updates from County Councillor Phillip Morris-Jones and Borough Councillor Neil Campbell, there were updates on a number of on-going matters the parish council has been dealing with. These included the proposed purchase of land in Ash Tree Grove, new seating for the children's play area in the playing field, and the proposed alteration to the speed limit in Wood Lane/Shilton Lane/Lower Road (which I blogged about here in July - who says it takes councils forever to do anything?!)
The parish council also formally signed the contract to purchase the red telephone kiosk in Lower Road, Barnacle that I blogged about here in September. The contract can now be returned to BT and the kiosk (minus the telephone equipment) should soon become a community asset and saved from removal.
Perhaps the most interesting topic of discussion at the meeting was the setting of the parish council's budget for 2010/11. As I've explained before, your yearly Council Tax aggregates the cost of four organisations into one bill - Warwickshire County Council, Rugby Borough Council, Shilton Parish Council and Warwickshire Police Authority. At our latest meeting, the parish council were required to agree what its element of the bill would be for the forthcoming financial year. This then gets added to the amounts required by the other three organisations and forms the bill that you receive through the post.
Our income from the Council Tax that you've paid during this current year is £15,580 (which is paid to the parish council by Rugby Borough Council [to whom you pay the tax] in two equal installments in April and September). Parish councillors held a full discussion on the range of possibilities for next year, and finally decided that our Council Tax precept for 2010/11 would be £15,700 - an increase of 0.77% from this year's amount.
Councillors were mindful of the difficult financial position many households were currently finding themselves in. Whilst the cost of the services that the parish council funds may well increase year on year (eg. street lighting, maintenance of the playing fields and cemetery, and the business rates on the new Church Street car park - which I told you about here in May), it was thought inappropriate to increase its share of the Council Tax beyond the very smallest of amounts.
It'll be interesting to see how the increase compares against the larger councils that make up the vast majority of your Council Tax bill. I fully expect this to be a big issue when the bills begin to land on people's doormats in March/April, to be picked up and exploited by the national political parties leading up to next year's General Election. All councils, large and small, are under pressure to keep Council Tax increases as low as is practically possible, and your parish council has recognised that fact in the budget it's set for 2010/11.
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