On Tuesday night I chaired the March meeting of Shilton Parish Council. As usual, the meeting began with updates from County Councillor Phillip Morris-Jones and Borough Councillor Rachel Watts. Both reported that their respective councils had now agreed their budgets for 2011/12, and that this would result in an unchanged level of Council Tax for next year compared to this year. There was a little more detail on the potential job losses that are likely to be required to achieve these stand still budgets - Rugby is expected to make 24 posts redundant, Warwickshire needs to find 1,800 job losses.
Rachel Watts was also able to give an update on progress with the Rugby Rural CCTV Network project that I blogged about following last month's parish council meeting. The trial that is being carried out together with Wolston Parish Council is still on-going. The trial had identified a number of technical problems that needed to be overcome (including poor rural broadband speeds to carry the CCTV images back to the central monitoring control room - a problem that will also impact on the roll-out of any system within Shilton and Barnacle), but these problems have now been overcome and it appears that it's now ready to be demonstrated to other interested parishes. Dunchurch and Ryton-on-Dunsmore parish councils already appear to be next in line, but Shilton parish councillors expressed their wish to see a demonstration of the CCTV system in operation at the earliest opportunity to assess its suitability for adoption in either or both our villages. I shall hopefully have more to report next month.
In other updates on items raised at the last meeting, it was reported that there had thankfully been no further reported incidents of the car park in Church Road, Shilton being used as a discrete location at which to smoke drugs. As ever, local residents provide the eyes and ears that give an early warning of these sorts of incidents and I would urge anyone seeing anything suspicious in the future to report the matter to either the parish council or Warwickshire Police's Safer Neighbourhoods Team.
There had also been reports of litter problems at the rear of the car park, and it was agreed to install a bin to (hopefully) encourage anyone looking to dispose of their litter to do so in more a responsible way.
In other business, the parish council agreed its cemetery fees for 2011/12. Some fees went up and others came down as we tried to bring our fees more in line with those charged by neighbouring councils. Parish councils are give clear guidance from the Government that the cost of providing cemeteries should be met from the burial fees they charged - effectively, the cemetery should be 'self financing'. For smaller parishes like Shilton this poses some difficulties, as it is not easy to accurately predict demand. Clearly, if only one or two people are being buried in any year, the fees received will not cover the cost of that year's cemetery maintenance. But as with most things, you do what you think is best and then manage the situation during the course of the year in response to developments.
The next meeting of Shilton Parish Council will be held on Tuesday 5 April at 7.30pm in the Parish Council Meeting Room, Church Road, Shilton.
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