Doing More With Less

Anston Parish Council in common with every other council in England and Wales has to manage its finances responsibly.                                                                                                It is essential that the council is seen to provide value for money. This means ensuring that public money is spent efficiently to provide an effective service. The aim is to get more council activity for the least possible expense without compromising quality.              The council assesses ‘value for money’ by regularly asking whether it is really necessary to spend the money or whether it can find a way of doing it better. Can another supplier do the job with greater efficiency and effectiveness?. It is also good practice to consult the wider community to find out what they think. (Having said that only 73 people from Anston have bothered to fill in the questionnaire-published in the council newsletter-asking for residents views on the parish council budget proposals)                         The Government is considering ways in which the community can have more influence over local council budgets in accordance with the principles of the Localism Act 2011.

It is too easy to copy the last Labour administration’s solution to the budget shortfall by increasing the precept (Anston Tax). However if residents want Anston Day (£2,000)* Hanging flower baskets in the village (£7,000) and the community Bonfire Night display (£9,350) to continue then there are no valid reasons why these cannot be sponsored and no reasons why residents should not pay an entrance fee to Anston Festival and the annual Bonfire Night.                                                                                                *It should be noted the previous Labour dominated parish council voted to scrap the funding for Anston Day*

Some parish councils charge between £3 and £8 admission per person for Bonfire Night for the simple reason they need to recoup costs. From this year until 2020 the Bonfire Night events will cost APC £56,100– provided other costs do not rise- and the Hanging flower baskets will cost £40,000. Total = £96,100. If 6000 people go to Anston Bonfire Nights between now and 2020 Anston Parish Council would need to charge each person who attends £9.35 to cover the costs of just this one event, alternatively the scale and scope of the fireworks displays could be reduced to save a minimum of £1,000 every year and everyone who attends could pay a nominal £3.00 admission fee.            APC needs to maximise its revenue and using Rackford Meadows for other events (apart from the Steam Rally) such as Dog shows, Gymkhanas, Boot sales and Car shows for example could contribute additional funds to offset the £12,800 annual loan repayments for the 32 acre site.

Anston Parish Council wants to know residents views on spending to depart from the ‘you ask, we give’ mentality of the previous Labour council and to make democracy more effective. The next stage is for residents to actively participate in the budgetary process to discuss spending priorities and put forward spending proposals to the parish council.
It Is Your Money. You Can Help To Decide How It Is Spent.

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18 Responses to Doing More With Less

  1. S Thornton says:

    It seems that “george” is an expert in how Parish Councils work. “Working Groups” are not secret meetings as he suggests, Cllrs meet to discuss various issues that relate to Council business. These working groups formulate ideas, come up with strategies and suggest recommendations to full council. Its a normal practice for the 11,000 councils in the UK. They cannot make decisions on behalf of the Council, decisions on their recommendations are made in Public for all to see. Working groups can be made up of Cllrs, Cllrs and Members of the Public, or even all members of the Public.
    What is strange, is that now we have a new Independent Council, certain people are suddenly complaining about “secrecy”. I say its strange because people have not raised this issue in the last four years of a Labour Controlled Council. Its further strange that two of the people who have regular “contracts” with the Council also seem to have found a voice about secrecy, yet they also kept quite for the last four years.
    Even stranger still, is that our Ex Chairman, Cllr Ireland Sr. seems to have had a “Damesene conversion” and also implies that the Parish Council is holding secret meetings. Strange because as Chairman he said nothing about “secret working groups” nor did he complain when he was attending “secret/confidential” meetings that excluded the Public.
    When strange things happen, always look for the motive.

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  2. George says:

    Very good criticism. Have you joined the rest of us ‘damn fools’.

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    • Watchman says:

      I fail to understand why you do not raise your concerns about the workings of APC at council meetings?
      If you have a legitimate grievance then ask the Clerk to The Council to place the item on the agenda and it can be discussed while the public are in attendance. Chairman Clive Jepson wil always make time for and listen to genuine complaints-unlike the previous Chairpersons Beck and Dalton who refused to answer legitimate questions or closed the meetings early (after throwing a hissy fit) to avoid giving answers.
      FYI I do not just criticise APC and RMBC, I try to offer and suggest better alternatives to the Labour party dogma that has crippled RMBC and alienated Anston residents,hence the mad scramble to abandon ship by APC Labour councillors and sham Independent Joyce Brindley before the May elections.

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  3. S Thornton says:

    Time to correct some facts “anonymous”. Why is it ” worth noting that Anston Festival is not funded by the Parish Council this year”. It now well known that it was the last Labour Controlled Council that failed to give any money to the Anston Day. Mrs Thomas, who is organising the event, has kept very very quite that it was her Labour “buddies” Judy Dalton and Iain St John who pulled the plug ( they did so knowing they were not standing this year).
    “As the Hall is rarely booked on a Sunday there is not any loss of revenue”, So who do you think is going to pay the contractor to “open/close the Hall, who is going to pay for the gas/electric/heating, who pays the cleaners, it all costs, it does not come out of thin air.
    “the increase in the Precept was not to cover the so called budget shortfall, but to cover the purchase of Rackford Meadows” utter tosh, I do not know where you get your information from, but its utterly wrong. The reason the precept went up was due to the fact that the Labour lot could not do their sums correctly. (The Rackford increase was already in the budget previously)
    Labour at RMBC have stripped Anston Parish Council of £31,000, So Mr Anonymous, you seem well informed, tell us all how you would cut £10,000 from next years budget???. (and another £10,000 from the year after)

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    • George says:

      Why to people keep ‘banging on’ about the previous, so called, Labour APC. At least they were voted for by the people of Anston. The majority of the current councillors were appointed by the council through co-option. I know this is a legal process, but does not reflect the voice of the people. Not much democracy there. As for giving to the Anston Festival Day, did the council not vote on grants to them. 10th June ‘RESOLVED that a grant, payable to APCRG, to cover 100% of hall and field hire for Anston. Day Festival be approved. The previous council cannot be blamed for not giving more to the day. The council have the power to approve grants in the current financial. So don’t blame others, blame the current council.

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    • Watchman says:

      ‘The previous council cannot be blamed for not giving more to the day’
      If you checked your facts you will know the previous administration voted to scrap funding for Anston Day therefore logic dictates it is not the fault of the present council that Anston Day funding was removed from the budget for 2014/2015.
      Why are you complaining about democracy? You are a also co-opted member of APC and don’t seem to mind attending APC meetings. Healthy debate is essential to a democratic society but criticising your fellow councillors without offering sensible and viable alternatives is rather petty.
      Any damn fool can criticise.

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  4. Mick Colman says:

    As a new member of Anston Parish Council I would like, if I may, to respond to the “Doing More With Less” blog and also to give my responses to the two published responses (at the time or writing).
    Whilst I appreciate the efforts of the blog I would like to hope that the article is aimed at Anston parishioners rather than at the Council members. The reason that I say this is two-fold. Firstly I think that information about the Council, its members, its meetings, its activities, its responsibilities and its decisions, although readily available to the public is negated by the publics un-awareness of the availability of the openness of APC matters, especially the amount of on line information that is there for all to see. I can well believe the statistic in the article about the 73 people out of the whole of Anston who answered the questionnaire. There was simply not enough eye catching publicity about it. Apparently the Government want Councils to ask the publics opinions about how budgets are spent, so presumably they want Councils to pay for extra publicity, questionnaires, etc. out of their err, budget. It’s called having you cake and eating it.
    Secondly and with all due respects to the writer of the article, the contents of it are either a) Things that are stating the obvious to this Council, b) Using the first three paragraphs to say the same thing, c) Suggesting that this Council is about to follow the last Labour led Councils solution to budget shortfall, and c) Seemingly advising the Council on matters that I can assure the writer (and the Anston parishioners) that this new Council already have in hand.
    Regarding the articles financial figures and the expectancy of Anston residents expectations to pay for certain events, I have my own personal feelings about that but this would be done under a separate post.
    Finally I would like to endorse what Councillor Thornton said in his reply and also thank Mr Cauldwell for his interesting reply to the article and for his support to this Council in their efforts, and to say that in our short period of office we have been working hard to get off on the right foot and to fulfill our objectives of serving the people of Anston with fairness and to the best of our ability, despite the financial shackles placed on our wrists by RMBC.

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    • Watchman says:

      The purpose of this blog is to inform the good people of Anston how their parish council operates and occasionally to highlight the stupidity, secrecy and wastefulness of RMBC.
      In response to ‘Anonymous’:The organisers of the Anston Day Festival are showing how initiative and private funding can provide an event that benefits the community without asking APC to produce £2000 out of thin air. As Cllr.Thornton points out and agrees the previous Labour administration scrapped funding for the Festival not the new Independent’s controlled council.
      To Mick Coleman: Some items mentioned on this blog may be familiar to parish councillors but are not generally known to the wider public and I have never stated this parish council should-or does-follow the same path to financial ruin as the previous Labour administration and I apologise if this is your perception.
      Thank you both for taking the time to contribute and welcome to APCW.
      All contributing posts are published (within the guidelines) and I hope you will continue to air your views.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    It is worth noting that Anston Festival is not funded by the parish council this year. The only assistance given is free use of the welfare hall and field. As the hall is very rarely booked on a Sunday there is not any loss of revenue. This was decided at the charity meeting which the parish council are trustees. Also the increase in the precept was not to cover the so called budget shortfall but to cover the purchase of Rackford Meadows which is now a valuable asset for the people of Anston. Returns on this are currently the steam rally and from next year a VW camper van rally. Why are people so against providing things such as bonfire night and hanging baskets. These go towards making the village what it is. As for charging for bonfire night, how ludicrous. That’s a definite vote winner. Charging people for what they have already paid for would only drive a wider gap between the people and the council. We should all rejoice in the excellent work the council do to benefit the community.

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    • Mick Colman says:

      Whilst 100% endorsing S Thorntons response (August 15 2015 @ 10:22pm) to the post made by Anonymous (August 14 2014 @ 2:14 am), I would like to re-write this work of fiction, which incidentally, was done by someone who has not got the balls (pardon the French) to put a real name to the post, with a factual equivalent. ” It is worth noting that this years Anston Festival was not funded by the previous Labour led Parish Council, who weren’t too bothered because they had decided (or where they told) to capitulate at the last elections and knew that they wouldn’t be around to face the music. However although having their hands tied by decisions made by the previous APC and RMBC, have offered the organizers free use of the hall & grounds despite another event being already booked for that day, and have held a meeting with the organizers to see if we can assist further. It was pointed out that the previous Councils budget cannot be altered at this stage of the financial year.
      The purchase of Rackford Meadows will indeed be an asset to the people of Anston…..when it is paid for. Until then it could be seen as a millstone around our necks. This was also purchased under the guidance of previous Council, yet again it’s hand washing time.
      Hanging baskets, Bonfire night displays and other things that make our village what it is has been put to the Anston Parishioners for their opinion in a questionnaire . 1% has responded, I will leave it to the reader to ask why. This Council has never mentioned charging to attend the bonfire night display. We (the Council) cannot be held responsible for any gap between the Council and the Anston public which may have been caused by the actions of previous Labour Council but will strive relentliously to ensure complete openness and honesty to serve this village. As I write, this new independent Council is barely a few months old. My question to Anonymous is this: Are you prepared to give this Council a fair crack of the whip, or not. If not, why not? PS Please stop hiding or maybe you can call yourself Mr Bin Laden.

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    • George says:

      Can you explain why you try to mislead readers ‘strive relentlessly to ensure complete openness’. The APC has voted to have secret meetings(excluding all public)to discuss a parish plan. Not much openness there. Oh! Remember honesty.

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    • Watchman says:

      There is nothing misleading on this blog nor in the articles published. APC has always discussed confidential matters in private session and I find it strange the subject of private sessions was never mentioned when the discredited Labour party councillors were making a hash of running APC. At least the Independent councillors do not go into private sessions before council meetings to discuss how they will vote on certain agenda items.
      I understand you are a member of the Labour party? Your political affliation does not appear on the Register of Interests.
      Remember honesty.

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    • Mick Colman says:

      George, what secret meetings are you referring to? I don’t know of any “secret meetings”. Unless you are referring to meeting extensions to deal with matters that need to be discussed by the Council members which legally the general public and press are not allowed to attend because of peoples or companies personal details or issues being part of the discussions. The press and the public are always made aware of these meeting extensions and they are always added to the published agenda so your use of the phrase “secret meetings” is not only inaccurate but means that it is actually you that is trying to mislead readers, not me.

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    • George says:

      The parish council voted by a close majority to form a working group to discuss a council strategy. The proposal by Cllr Thornton was to exclude all members of the public thus making it a secret meeting. This was decided on the 5th of August. Even though you were not present, all councillors are given a copy of the agenda for each meeting. Come on, ‘get with the programme’.

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    • George says:

      By the way Watchman, if you look at the register of interest held by RMBC you will see that political interests are listed.

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    • Mick Colman says:

      George, I am voluntarily part of two working groups. I volunteered to gain experience of them and the first thing that I learned was that the working groups are set up to discuss certain things and to formulate information and findings which will then be presented to full Council meetings for approve, or not, in the presence of press and public, therefore the press and the public have no need to attend working group discussions because they will hear what the groups findings and/or recommendations are at that time. I have no doubt that the discussions on Council strategy will be conducted no differently. I was not present at the Council meeting on 5th August as I was on holiday ( yes. before you ask Councillors are allowed holidays). However you may be surprised to know that I can actually read and did read the agenda, so I have as you strangely put “Got with the program.”

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  6. S Thornton says:

    I can assure the people of Anston that I for one will be yet again making “representations” in order to reduce the budget this next coming year. From my conversations with fellow Cllrs (Independents) I understand that most are in favour of some budget savings. We as a Council are aware that we will have to make savings of at least £10,000 this next budget, due to the fact the Labour Cllrs at RMBC voted to reduce our Grant by £31,000 over the next couple of years. Next year are all out Elections for RMBC Cllrs, If Labour are stripping us of funding, then its a good time to vote Independent Cllrs on to Rotherham Council to get a better deal for Anston.

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  7. David Cauldwell says:

    If Anston Parish Council is determined to keep the precept at its present level for the next 5 years and avoid depleting the reserves account then I agree it needs to act now to ‘do more with less’.
    Section 19 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 permits charging for the use of leisure and recreational facilities. Charging is limited to cost recovery and statutory
    guidance published in 2003 outlines how costs and charges should be established and that guidance remains in force.
    The times when all community events were ‘free’ is long past and it is the duty of every council
    -and councillor-to seek and agree to providing value for (our) money.
    Perhaps APC should also consider paid advertising in the community Newsletter to offset the printing costs of this glossy publication?
    There are numerous options available to the Parish Council to cut costs and increase revenues including selling unused assets and sharing costs with two or three other local parish councils.
    In my previous life I was part of the Strategy and Finance Team for a UK based Blue Chip company and I understand the difficulties facing Anston Parish Council in their endeavours to “sweat the assets”. They have my full support.

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