Precept 2020 - 2021
Published: 17 March 2020
As you are probably aware, both the Borough and County Councils have suffered huge reductions in their grants from Central Government, as well as having a cap put on their ability to increase Council Tax. This has forced them to make huge savings but at the same time continue to provide services for residents. As a result, Parish Councils have had to pick up some of the “slack” and we are able to make a significant difference to the services that are provided locally. It should also be remembered that the parish precept starts from a much lower base.
An ongoing issue has been the problems created by traffic in both The Street in Great Chart and Hoxton Close in Singleton. The Parish Council made a decision to invest a significant sum of money during the 2020 – 2021 financial year to address some of these issues. The impact of this expenditure (£20,000) is shown on our budget under “Parish Highways Issues”. KCC is supportive of these actions but admits they are currently unable to offer any financial assistance – in other words, “We can do it, but you’ll have to pay for it”. It should be noted that the Parish has benefitted this financial year by KCC providing the funding for the new Puffin crossing in Tithe Barn Lane.
You may also be aware that the Parish Council took over the lease for the Singleton Environment Centre (SEC) in 2018, to make sure it remained an asset for the local community. The SEC now also has a line in the budget of £10,000.
The staffing budget has been combined into one line and incorporates additional staffing (Assistant to the Clerk and Assistant Parish Steward).
The Parish has responsibility for ground maintenance at Cuckoo Park, Great Chart Play Park, The Outdoor Gym and the land adjacent to Singleton Village Hall. We also fund the ground maintenance of the playing fields in Great Chart.
Kent County Council is withdrawing its provision of hosting websites free of charge for Parish Councils from September 2020. The Parish Council is now in the process of redeveloping its website to meet the Accessibility requirements for websites and to make it mobile device friendly. The website is a crucial tool to share important information about the Parish Council’s activity with the residents and it is also a legal requirement.
The Parish Council operates with the utmost transparency. Minutes of all PC meetings and individual committee meetings are all published on the Council website. We invite interaction with parishioners at all levels and publish a calendar and agendas for all meetings. We have held workshops for Ambition Planning (what you would like to see the council do) and the summary of these meetings forms, with input from individual councillors, the basis of our Ambition Plan. You can see this, too, on our website.
All accounts, down to the level of individual payments are also available via the website. Our accounts are produced in accordance with all financial regulations and are subject to an annual, independent, external audit. These audit reports are also available via the website.
The Parish Council’s Finance Committee regularly meets to review spending and to ensure all payments are made in accordance with Financial Regulations. The committee also carries out regular internal audits. These meetings are open to the public and meeting dates are available on the website. The Parish Council through its Grant funding was able to support many local groups and hope to continue to do so. Some of the groups that received financial support are: Great Chart Cricket Club, Singleton Environment Centre, Ashford Community Woodland, and Great Chart Playing Fields. Some of these community assets would have been lost without the Parish Council’s support.
Contact details for each councillor and the Parish Clerk are again, on our website and reproduced quarterly in the Parish Magazine. (Website: http://www.greatchartwithsingletonpc.kentparishes.gov.uk/
If you have further questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact the Parish Clerk by phone, e-mail or (by appointment) in person.