Parish councils monitor street lighting, they can provide allotments and look after play areas and village greens. They have a hand in communications by maintaining or guarding such things as rights of way, bus shelters and public seats. Parish councils are the cheapest and least bureaucratic kind of local authority. They are funded by the parish precept and they get no general government grant so they have every incentive to ensure they give and get value for money. Anston is the largest parish in the Borough of Rotherham and RMBC (via HM Government) gave APC a grant of £31,000 to help with changes in the benefits system and -more importantly- to freeze the parish precept. The tax base (which means the number of homes which pay the parish precept and council tax) is rising yet RMBC intends to cut £10,000 per year for the next three years from Anston’s income. The residents of Anston face stark choices; The hanging flower baskets that help to make Anston attractive cost £7,000 a year. RMBC charges APC £14,043 per year (part of a a 3 year contract) for grass cutting and grounds maintenance including the large field at Crowgate which APC rents from RMBC for £1 per annum. The field is now largely unused and to save money it has been suggested that it should be handed back to RMBC. Two local football clubs owe APC £872 for rents and fees, there are other debts of £7,000 plus the cost of the annual Bonfire Night –£7,750– and Anston Parish Council is faced with debts of £36,665 for the financial year 2015/2016. This sum excludes the annual repayments of £12,800 per year for the newly renamed ‘Rackford Meadows’. £36k+ is a huge sum of money for APC and most of these debts were incurred by Labour councillors who previously controlled Anston Parish Council. They never put financial controls in place nor did they understand finance and economics. They never tried to get value for money and Beck, Burton and Dalton voted in agreement with RMBC to cut Anston’s income by a total of £31,000 over the next three years. This was before they also voted with other Labour councillors to increase Anston’s precept by 1.9%
The Independent’s (who now control APC) are deterrmined to reduce the parish council’s debts and ensure there are rigorous controls on future spending. The residents of Anston deserve value for money from their parish council -which they’ve never had before- and clearing up the financial mess left by Labour councillors means hard choices have to be made.
* This post has been edited to correct the information originally posted about RMBC.*