Parish Precept Increase 2018/2019
At the Town Council meeting on 23rd January 2018 members decided to increase the Parish precept (which is collected as part of the Council Tax by DMBC) from £27,061 to £36,000. How much Parish precept individual households pay depends on which band (A to H) their house falls into. The average house is in Band D and therefore for most residents the increase will amount to 50p per month or £6 per year. The existing annual fee of £20.63 per household will go up to £26.59. This notice explains the background to this decision.
What the Precept is for
The Parish precept is meant to pay for services provided by the Town Council – street cleaning, litter bins, flower displays, the cemetery, the allotments, Wharf Street Play Area, Christmas and other events, and support to BARS (for the Memorial Sports Ground) and to other organisations. We also have to maintain and repair our property, and pay rates and utilities for them, and pay salaries to our Clerk and a small team of handymen.
Income and expenditure
Our budget for routine expenditure in 2018/19 is about £112,000. At £27,000 the existing precept would only cover a quarter of that; the rest paid largely by income from the car park and cemetery. During the current financial year, we’ve also had “non-routine” expenditure such as grant funding to BARS (for the new pavilion) and the new “Welcome to Bawtry” signs. To do that, we have had to raid our reserves. We want to continue to improve Bawtry, which means additional expenditure in the future – better flower displays, improved maintenance, the relocation of the War Memorial and further refurbishment of Market Hill. When full control of the car park reverts back to the Council in 2021 members may also want to “wind back” charges/charging hours, because retailers tell us they have damaged the town’s economy. This won’t be achievable if we remain over reliant on the present level of car park income at the expense of other income streams such as the precept.
This anomalous situation dates back more than 10 years. In 2007 the Council, determined to introduce parking charges on Market Hill, made a contract with Excel Parking to manage the car park. Council expenditure increased over time, and instead of increasing the precept, the Council increased parking charges and parking hours, culminating in the present regime of 08.00 to 22.00, seven days a week. The precept was left untouched, retained at artificially low levels not even keeping up with inflation. This policy resulted in the Council becoming financially dependent upon parking charges.
The present Council is determined to address this problem. We started last year, with a 10% increase in the precept. This year’s increase is 33%. These sound like big figures – but they are being applied to a very low base and therefore the impact upon households is also very small. The precept will still remain well below what many surrounding parishes and towns pay and who benefit from far fewer facilities.
If you want to see a detailed financial report regarding the budget this is posted on our website – www.bawtrytowncouncil.co.uk
Chair, Bawtry Town Council 26th January 2018
Grove & Rufford Hunt – Boxing Day event in Bawtry
On 28th November the Grove & Rufford Hunt asked permission to use 3 car parking spaces in front of the Crown Hotel for their Boxing Day meet in Bawtry, as they have in the past.
The Council considered this request at our meeting on 12th December. Our decision was not to grant permission. This is the full extent of our actions despite some public misconceptions that we have banned the hunt or prevented it from meeting in Bawtry on Boxing Day. We have not and we were specifically advised at the Council meeting by the Hunt representative that they may hold their Meet in Bawtry without the use of the small area of Council land.
I am aware our decision will disappoint some people. This notice explains why it was made.
Following Parliament’s decision to make fox hunting unlawful, the activities of Hunt organisations remains a controversial issue in this country. Supporters value them as a traditional countryside pursuit, on the basis that they now only do what is called drag hunting, where an artificial scent trail is laid, and the hunt members and dogs follow that trail. That activity is lawful. Opponents claim that some hunts still kill foxes.
When the Grove & Rufford Hunt asked to use our car park last year, the Council gave permission. I supported it on the basis that it was a popular event that was “good for Bawtry” and that following the Meet they would hold a drag hunt, which was lawful. I believe that was also the position of the rest of the Council, although I’m making an assumption here – there was no significant debate as there was no opposition.
This time though, it was controversial, because on 14th March 2017, at Mansfield Magistrates Court, an employee of the Grove & Rufford Hunt (their “terrier man”) and two members of the Hunt were convicted of the offence of hunting a mammal (a fox) with dogs.
At our 12th December meeting, the Hunt representative told us the Grove & Rufford Hunt respected the law and operated within it. We therefore asked what action had been taken against their employee and their members following the convictions. We were told the terrier man remained in their employ, and the two members remained members. We explained that caused us concern because their taking no action following the convictions seemed to contradict their assertion that they respected the law. The representative responded by saying the Hunt thought the convictions were unfair.
Whilst the Grove & Rufford Hunt may lightly dismiss the convictions, we did not feel, as an elected public body, we could. Even so, trying to find a way forward, one of our Councillors asked the Hunt representative whether the three individuals who had been convicted of fox hunting would be present at the Meet on Boxing Day. The representative replied by confirming they would.
In my view, this left us with nowhere to go. I think the Grove & Rufford Hunt were insensitive of the fact that fox hunting remains very controversial. They profess to abide by the law, but took no action to demonstrate disapproval of their members breaking that law, by expelling them – or even suspending them pending an appeal against conviction. Short of that, they could have undertaken that the three individuals would not be involved in the Boxing Day event. That would have been so easy – but they didn’t do it. Had they done so, I think our decision may have been different.
Council concluded that we could not agree the Hunt’s request in these circumstances.
David Kirkham, Chair of Bawtry Town Council 14th December 2017
SYP Alerts launched by South Yorkshire Police
SYP Alerts will allow members of the public to sign up to receive free, tailored messages from the police via text, email and voice alert.
Initially, the messages will be sent by the Corporate Communications team but as training is rolled out across the force to Neighbourhood Policing Teams we will see local cops and PCSOs using it on a regular basis.
How does this differ from Twitter or Facebook?
South Yorkshire Police have an outstanding social media presence as a force but they can’t rely on that alone as there is an increasing demand for the public to be able to easily access information that is tailored specifically to their wants and needs. As such, the police need to ensure we have a variety of ways that people can get their information . SYP Alerts will allow officers to send messages to anyone registered in their area, but they will also be able to;
Instantly alert the public to critical incidents
Target messages to a specific street/area
Target messages dependent on information that the subscriber has given us i.e. vulnerable people, people who have said they have CCTV
Send out messages in different languages
Consult with the public
This system will replace the Neighbourhood Watch Confirmer system but will be available to any member of the public who wishes to sign up.
It is quick and easy to register at www.sypalerts.co.uk, requiring just name, address and email. Once signed-up, users can adjust the settings to suit their interests
Sign-up now at www.sypalerts.co.uk #SignMeUp