Each year the council asks Central beds Council for their precept from which we undertake all of our responsibilities for maintaining our 3 Parks, the Village Green, the Closed Churchyard, CCTV system, grants and support to local groups and organisations, etc. This coming year we are requesting approx. £70.49 per band D property per year.
Council have made commitments to improve various areas around the village in this and in subsequent years and have several potential projects and issues that will need further funding. These include;
New Xmas lights – many people have contacted the council to ask for better lights on the trees. The council will make this happen.
Employing a Data Protection Officer (and other Data Protection legal costs) – This is a new legal responsibility from Central Government and therefore unavoidable, but necessary, to ensure we are fully compliant with the law.
CCTV renewal – the system is currently housed at Heathfield which will be closing at some stage so we will lose the wi-fi connection and the control centre. Plus quality of pictures is not perfect from the old equipment, and the system would benefit from being upgraded.
New Parks equipment – we have earmarked funds this year for the park behind Elm Ave shops (and also securing external funding to help with costs) but intend and need to update the other parks, which we will be doing over the next 2 years. Although we will try to achieve as much external funding as possible but to do so need to contribute match funding to secure these grants.
Heathfield replacement facility –when the Heathfield site is closed and the site developed there will be a new community centre built there to replace the current building. It is quite likely that the parish council will be required to contribute to fund the day-to-day management of the building. Although details of this are to be agreed and are some time away it makes sense that we make provision for it in the on-going budget so that the village does not lose such a valuable and well-used local resource.
New Grounds Maintenance Contract – the contract is in need of revising since it was initially set in 2008 (and we are adding and have added greater pond maintenance and litter and sweeping duties, and watering and maintenance of hanging baskets, planters and the traffic island to the specification etc.) and therefore may be more costly
Closed Churchyard trees – we have recently undertake substantial works to hedges and trees in the closed churchyard (including emergency work when a huge branch cracked in the storm of December) to help make the area more open and attractive (as well as adding to the security of the church through it being more visible, as there were some attempts of lead theft form the roof in recent years). Tree maintenance is obviously on-going and therefore we wish to make sure we have reserves to be able to undertake regular and emergency works.
Information centre – the parish council appreciate that some groups still use the old brick shelter to meet before catching transport for days out or catching school transport, etc. but we intend to paint it and turn it into an information centre with noticeboards for public, charities and official use.
After considerable discussion at parish council budget meeting in January, due to the number of projects we want to make happen next year and in the future, it was agreed that we raise the precept by £6.40 per year for a band D property for 2018-19, taking the total band D contribution to £70.49 per year.