Last Tuesday, I attended an informal parish council meeting that had been arranged to discuss finance matters. Shilton Parish Council does not normally meet during January, and therefore the opportunity was taken to call an informal meeting to discuss a number of financial-related matters outside of a normal parish council meeting.
Unfortunately, I was working for the early part of the evening and so was only able to get to the meeting half way through. Fortunately, I didn't miss the discussions on two of the big projects for the parish council for the first part of the new year: CCTV and participatory budgeting.
It's hard to believe that I first mentioned the rural CCTV system back in December 2009, but two years later Shilton will, by the end of the week, have its own CCTV system in operation covering the car park area of the village hall/sports pavilion.
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Set up costs and on-going funding will be met by the parish council, with video footage being able to be viewed at the Police control centre at Wolston Leisure and Community Centre.
At last week's meeting, councillors agreed the final details for the switching on of the cameras. Particular credit should go to Councillor Stephen White who has taken on responsibility for delivering this project, working closely with Paul Collett from the Rugby Community Safety Partnership in order to deliver a cost effective measure that should reduce crime, and the fear of crime, around the village hall car park area.
The other topic of interest was participatory budgeting. It's not the snappiest of names, but make a note of it because if you live in Shilton or Barnacle you should be hearing it a lot more over the next few months.
Participatory budgeting is a way that councils can spend money that involves the public more in deciding what it is that the money should be spent on, and this usually involves the public suggesting ideas and then voting on which ones to implement. And in a nutshell, that's what Shilton Parish Council is going to do this year. It has set aside £1,500 for any resident in the parish to suggest an idea as to what it should be spent on. The only two criteria are that the suggestion must be for general community benefit (rather than just of use to yourself), and the suggestion must be legal and permissible. Other than that, whatever is suggested will be put to the public vote and the most popular idea will be carried out!
There'll be plenty more on this over the next few months (look out for something in the next edition of BASIS), and councillors were last week discussing some of the practicalities as to how it will all operate. But the exciting thing for me is that for the first time in a long time, residents will be the ones deciding what it is they want their Council Tax to be spent on, which should help the parish council itself to be more representative and responsive to what the public wants.
There'll be plenty more about this on the blog in the weeks to come, including when I report back from the next normal parish council meeting being held on Tuesday 6 February.
As ever, any comments on CCTV or the participatory budgeting idea will be very welcome
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