As usual, the meeting started with updates from county councillor Phillip Morris-Jones and borough councillor Tony Gillias on recent developments at the Shire Hall in Warwick and the Town Hall in Rugby.
I was particularly interested to hear Councillor Gillias report that on the previous night, Rugby Borough Council's Cabinet had agreed to contribute £246,000 to the funding that had been provisionally allocated to support improved broadband within the borough. I have blogged about this project on a number of occasions and am particularly keen to see broadband line speeds in Shilton and Barnacle improve considerably to that that was currently provided.
Out of total Government funding across the country of £530m for this project, Warwickshire has been allocated £2.95m in order that superfast broadband, with line speeds of greater than 24Mbps, is made available to 90% of homes. The Rugby borough area has been awarded £246,545, which needed to be match-funded from other sources in order to release the Government cash. Thankfully, the funding allocated earlier in the week by Rugby Borough Council has done this, which will ensure that at least £500,000 will be spent improving broadband speeds locally. This is likely to increase further by attracting additional private sector funding.
I'd recommend anyone interested in this subject to read the report that was submitted to the Cabinet meeting on 6 February (if you can overlook the irony of downloading a 32Mb file with broadband line speeds not fit for the purpose, it's agenda item no. 8!). I was particularly pleased to see a recognition within that report of the problems that poor broadband speeds pose for people living within the rural part of the borough. The report highlighted this, saying:
With Rugby town receiving the majority of the benefits from private investment, this has become an issue of rural development.The approval of this match-funding shows good progress is being made, and I shall continue to follow developments closely.
As private residents in rural locations are those who may find it most difficult to take advantage of face to face services at the Town Hall, channel shift to online services would seem natural. Without access to broadband services however, they may be unable to access such channels, disadvantaging them further.
Limited access to broadband services in rural locations will impact the borough's ability to attract commercial organisations.
The parish council was also able to confirm what each household will be paying towards its expenditure for 2012/13. As you'll know, an element of the Council Tax bill goes towards the parish council's costs for the year. In December, the council agreed to set its budget at £16,200, and now Rugby Borough Council has informed us as to how this will be reflected within the Council Tax bills that will be hitting doormats soon. Depending on which band your house is in, the parish council's element of the bill will come to:
- Band A - £30.35
- Band B - £35.40
- Band C - £40.46
- Band D - £45.52
- Band E - £55.64
- Band F - £65.75
- Band G - £75.87
- Band H - £91.03
Elsewhere on the agenda, there was the usual review of financial matters, comments on recent planning applications that had been submitted, progress updates on a number of projects that were on-going, and consideration of what action could be taken in response to a range of concerns that had been raised during the past month by local residents.
The meeting finished at 10.00pm on a bitterly cold winter's evening, and the next meeting of Shilton Parish Council will be held on Tuesday 6 March at 7.30pm at the Parish Council Meeting Room, Church Road, Shilton.