March 2007 Meeting Report

Report on the Meeting held
Tuesday 6th March 2007, Compton Room, Shawford Parish Hall

District Councillor’s report

District Councillor George Beckett reported that Winchester City Council had approved the administration’s published proposals which involve a council tax increase of 2.9% for district council services. He also advised that this budget round has been particularly difficult, with an unexpected increase in the cost of concessionary travel amounting to £250K and a shortfall in car parking income during the current year of £200K. Also the formula used within the SERCO contract involves the Council in an increased cost above the rate of inflation, as will the national staff pay settlement.

The budget has been balanced by cutting the central overhead administration costs, and reorganizing the structure to reflect a desire to manage the authority in a more streamlined and cost efficient way. Whilst it is hoped that services will not be affected in this current year, Councillor Beckett does foresee that if the council’s financial position does not improve, future years may well be different.

It is reassuring to note that Compton and Shawford’s modest overall increase in precept actually results in a slightly lower tax per property this year: £34.00 for a band D household, which compares favourably with parishes in the district offering a similar range of services.

The County tax, which along with the Fire and Rescue and Police charges makes up by far the largest element of the total council tax collected by Winchester City Council, will be increasing by well in excess of the rate of inflation, which is a disappointment.

County Councillor’s report

County Councillor Charlotte Bailey reported that Hampshire County Council has agreed a budget which will mean a 4.9% increase. Last month Councillor Bailey reported on the cuts to services which were still felt to be necessary in order to prevent an even higher increase. The only reprieve has been for the Study Centres which have now been promised funding for one year only. Hampshire County Council’s slice of the Council Tax will add a further £45 for a Band D household.

County Councillor Charlotte Bailey also reported on Shawford Down, Street Lighting, Bridleways, 4 Star Status for Hampshire County Council and the Hampshire Action Teams.

Compton Lock

Councillor Tom Threlfall reported on the fallen tree in Compton Lock. Twyford Parish Council is leading the work to have this cleared.

Finance and Admin Committee

Councillor John Richardson reported on his Committee’s proposal to re-structure the Parish Council Committees. It was agreed that it is desirable to streamline the Committee structure of the Parish Council. There will be three Committees: Finance and Administration, Planning Transport and Environment, and Facilities Management. With this new structure, which is intended to be implemented in May 2007, we hope that the work of the Parish Council can be undertaken with less bureaucracy and at the same time more effectively.

Open Space Fund

A recent request from Winchester City Council for the Parish Council to use the funds in the Open Space Fund, held by Winchester City Council on behalf of Compton and Shawford Parish Council, was discussed at length. The Parish Council’s policy, adopted in April 2005, is to allow our Open Space Fund to accumulate until sufficient is available to allow the purchase of a significant capital asset for the permanent benefit of the parish and its residents in future years. This could take the form of purchasing land for use by parishioners and should not necessarily focus exclusively upon the children and youth of the parish nor necessarily be used only for sports.

New Parish Councillors needed

Councillor Jeremy Dolphin raised the matter of “Succession”. In May 2008, the Parish Council is due for re-election. Some existing Parish Councillors have already declared that they will be unable to stand for re-election as most have undertaken the role for many years and feel that it is time to stand down.

If there are insufficient candidates to form a quorum, then Winchester City Council will put people in to undertake the work of the Parish Council. If nobody from within the Parish stands for election, then Winchester City Council would undertake the entire work of the Parish Council. Whilst this would maintain the “status quo”, ultimately there would be a detrimental effect upon the general upkeep of the Parish and its property. Accordingly, in the coming year, the Parish Council will encourage new candidates to stand for election to the Parish Council in 2008. It is hoped that current work on the Parish Plan will encourage potential candidates and generate a wider interest in the Community and activities of the Parish as a whole.