Over the next few months, I hope to give an informal guide to the work of the Parish Council, its officers, employees and councillors, and give you some ideas of how you can get involved. Part 1 of this series covers the financial aspect of the Parish Council and your Council Tax – an annoying bill that arrives in March to dampen the spring sunshine. The breakdown on your bill shows you how much is allocated to each authority and how much goes to Ruddington Parish Council – YOUR Parish Council – to spend/invest on your behalf on village facilities, services and supplies.
Do you know where that money goes or how the Parish Council decides how much money it needs?
The council actively seeks outside funding and grants to assist with projects and on the new play areas for example, a big proportion of the costs were met this way. However, maintenance, repairs, upkeep and safety checks of all the equipment, along with keeping the areas clean of litter, paths safe and grass cut is all council responsibility. What else? Well briefly, there is St. Peter’s Rooms, the Village Hall, three playing fields, two sports pavilions, the War Memorial and grounds, the Green, Church Street car park, Churchill open space, two sets of allotments, Vicarage Lane Cemetery, Flawford Churchyard and St Peter’s Churchyard – all maintained by the Parish Council and its staff.
Of course, hirers pay towards the costs but regular income from letting is not guaranteed and does not cover the open spaces where trees need specialist pruning, bins need emptying and grass needs cutting. You will also know from your own bills that utility charges are not coming down and that failure to adequately maintain and heat premises simply costs more in the long run when they run in to disrepair and no-one wants to hire them. Money is also spent in promoting the village and ‘keeping up appearances’ – Christmas trees, bedding plants, planters and even the provision of dog poo bags all help to improve the look and feel of our village and bring in visitors and shoppers.
Each autumn, work starts on the budgets for the following year with final decisions being made in January/February at which point the Parish Council decides on the precept (what you will pay) for the following year. This is a very complicated process and a difficult time for our councillors who are also residents in the village and not only want the best facilities for the community but also need to take in to account the current economic climate. It is the council’s job to ensure that every penny of your council tax is spent with care and consideration and in the best interests of residents of the village.
If you have a question about what the Parish Council is responsible for, please contact the PC Office – understanding which authority is responsible for which services can be complicated and the Clerk and his staff are there to help and advise.