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Council Tax

I have received my Council tax bill today.  Although the increase in the precept that our Parish Council announced they had asked for represented an increase of 10% over last year, in fact  the element of Council Tax that we have to pay to the Parish has actually increased by 11.8%.

The reason for the substantial difference is because although the Parish will only receive 10% more it is the number of tax payers in the Parish, the number entitled to a single occupancy discount and the number of people in receipt of Council tax benefit, that determines the increase that we actually have to pay.

By comparison Lancashire County Council, Adult Social Care, Police & Crime Commission have all increased by 2.0%.  Lancashire Fire Authority has required no increase at all and Lancaster City Council has increased by 2.4%.

When considering these increases however you must also remember that the County stopped our buses over a year ago, we no longer welcome The Police & Citizens Together into the Village every week, or at our Parish Council Meetings.  The City Council are no longer collecting Green Waste free of charge and are indeed making us pay if we want the service.

In fact you may consider that as a Band F (that’s me) tax payer is paying the same amount to have their green waste removed every year as I pay to the Parish Council for all the wonderful services they provide, that we are blessed.

Keep In Touch

One frequent theme on this blog is the difficulty of contacting Parish Councillors.  I will not repeat the pros & cons because they have been sufficiently aired.  However, for a change I have what might be an acceptable solution all round.

The “Worlds most reliable mobile phone”, the Nokia 3310 can be bought from numerous places on the Internet for less than £25, SIM free.  A SIM card for Pay-as-you-Go would cost a further £10, and as it is only required for incoming calls, it will last for ever.

Nokia 3310

It is a simple, rather than smart, phone ideally suited to the task of receiving calls.  It can be transferred to another person if a particular Councillor looses their seat in an election, or retires from the PC. More particularly it is robust and reliable.  Maureen and I have each  had ones that we have used since 2000.

Safety of Children

We have received an email from Sue Williams.  It is extremely apropos the current interest in road safety and I am delighted to be able to include Sues message below:

Yesterday afternoon Graham and I were driving into the village from Arkholme when we were confronted by a child cyclist doing “wheelies” in the road.  He was clearly oblivious to the danger he was putting himself in.

 With the days drawing out and the Easter holidays approaching could any parents whose children ride a bicycle remind them of the dangers of playing on the highway.

Sue Williams

Mondays Open Meeting

Although I do not propose to attend the proposed Open Meeting on 20th March I am curious about what will form the basis of the discussion.

 The meeting is to be held prior to the normal Parish Council Meeting so at that point the minutes for the January PC meeting will not have been formally agreed.

 I have already written to the PC expressing my concern at what I see as a general lack of clarity in its minutes, in particular the agreed minutes for November 2016 and have already expressed similar concerns about the draft minutes of the January meeting.  These concerns have been underscored by the vice chairman’s comment on the blog on 4th March

“Parish Council is always short on funds and realises that reserves have to be built if any meaningful project is to be carried out in the village, that is why the precept was increased.

That is the situation as it stands today however as you say much criticism seems to have been aired regarding this project, probably fuelled by the thought of a cost of £7,800 +Vat and a 10% rise in the precept to solely fund this project.

I don’t know where the £7,800+ VAT figure comes from (certainly not Parish Council) and it is incorrect to assume a precept increase is for the sole use of a SPID.”

Curiously neither the need to build reserves or the costs of Spids is mentioned in the draft minutes for January but it is always open for the PC to amend the draft minutes before they are agreed.

Incidentally, in July 2006 the minutes show the projected cost of two spids at £7,100 but is not clear whether this figure included VAT.

No doubt all will become clear after the PC meeting on Monday 20th but since this will take place after the proposed open meeting I find it difficult to see what can be discussed or achieved at the open meeting, hence my decision not to attend.

Of course it is always open for the PC to admit that its agreed minutes dating back to July 2006 fail to demonstrate that proper consideration has been given to both the issue of traffic speeds through the village and the actions open to the PC to deal with the problem, if indeed the facts show that there is a problem with traffic regularly exceeding the existing limit.

Graham Williams

The Village Blog