MINUTES OF THE CHOPPINGTON PARISH COUNCIL BUDGET MEETING HELD ON FRIDAY 31 JANUARY 2020 IN STAKEFORD AND BOMARSUND SPORTS AND SOCIAL WELFARE CENTRE
Cllr H Allsopp
Cllr E A Barrell
Cllr J Foster
Cllr G Huntley
Cllr J Rowell
Cllr P S Vaughan, Chairman
Cllr L Watson
Mr D L Nicholson JP, Parish Clerk and Ms A Brindley, Deputy Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer.
AGENDA PART 1
C056/19. 1. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr K Grimes (medical appointment) and Cllr A Iley (holiday). The meeting accepted these apologies, agreeing they were proper reasons for absence.
C057/19. 2. DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY AND OTHER REGISTERABLE PERSONAL INTEREST(S)
C058/19. 3. PUBLIC QUESTIONS.
C059/19. 4. TO CONSIDER THE PARISH COUNCIL BUDGET PROPOSALS FOR 2020/21
The Parish Clerk explained that the Parish Council is required to set a balanced budget, determine the level of precept and to advise Northumberland County Council of this requirement.
4.1 Context On establishment Choppington Parish Council embraced the principles of community governance, resolving to engage with its various communities and to deliver only those services and standards as directed by the community. The Parish Council receives guidance on service standards and the level of precept from the Residents Panel. This is often referred to as participative budgeting and Choppington Parish Council is considered to be the largest local council in England to adopt participative budgeting in respect of its total expenditure. Choppington Parish Council has been recognised as an exemplar for the development of local services through community partnership and supports other authorities who want to develop community participation in budgeting.
The Parish Council’s Financial Plan and budget has been received by the Residents Panel who have supported expenditure plans and agreed a 3% rise in precept. Previously the Parish Council has conducted a survey of all residents, which resulted in the Residents Panel directing that the precept required to fund local services should not exceed £425,000 during the period 2017/18 to 2021/22. This direction was given after the Residents Panel had received the interim results from the residents survey (2016), which showed overwhelming support for the proposal to constrain the precept and to limit any new service responsibilities to the Parish Council’s strategic priorities:
- To maintain and develop the local environment
- To provide opportunities for older people
- To develop services for younger people
- To support the development of local facilities to meet these needs
The Parish Council’s financial strategy for the period to 2021/22 recognises the continuing financial pressures that Northumberland County Council faces arising from continued national austerity. As a direct consequence of Central Government austerity measures Northumberland County Council continues to reduce in both size and capacity in real terms of the services they provide and the financial resources they can direct. In broad terms NCC is around half the size it was in 2009.Central Government is encouraging the transfer of services from principal authorities to local councils. Under ‘localism’ authorities such as Choppington Parish Council are being encouraged to work creatively with their communities to deliver these services at lower costs. Members are asked to be mindful of the caution shown by local residents and the established criteria for consideration of service transfers.The Parish Council, although considered large by Northumberland standards is in fact in a small local authority when compared to district or borough councils. As such it needs to accept that value for money criteria and lack of capacity restricts the range of services it can deliver or support.
4.2 Financial Strategy – 2019/20 to 2021/22The Chairman and The Responsible Finance Officer reported on the guidance given by the budget working group which had met on 2 occasions in December 2019 and January 2020. The working group had considered:
- Staffing Costs – The financial implications of the retirement of the Parish Clerk in June 2020.
- Office Costs – A rent review to be undertaken during 20/21, however local market information does not indicate that this will result in any significant increase.
- Fees and Charges – Legal costs will be incurred during the year in relation to the transfer of allotments from the principal authority.
- Local Services (activities and community services) – it is not anticipated that any additional services will be transferred into the responsibility of the Parish Council by the principal authority. However, the Parish Council has anticipated expanded community services will require an additional allocation of £20,000 by 2022.
- Asset Management – an additional allocation for replacement and repair of equipment reflecting additional assets purchased by the authority.In developing a financial strategy for the period 2019/20 and 2020/21, the Parish Council has considered:
- The views of the Residents Panel that support a precept of £407,202 for 2020/21.
- Community/residents priorities
- The economic circumstances of the area
- Value for money
- National priorities for local government and service transfers
- The impact of future demands on the Parish Council precept
The Parish Clerk reported that the budget as presented covers all expected and anticipated for the financial year 2020/21, and that there are no known outstanding issues that would place additional demands during the year.
- Members agreed to support the direction given by the budget working group (endorsed by the Residents Panel) in relation to the management of resources and for the delivery of services for the period 2020/21 and 2021/22.
- Members agreed the budget for 2020/21.
C060/17. 5. TO SET THE PARISH COUNCIL PRECEPT FOR 2020/21
The Responsible Finance Officer advised that following adoption of the budget for 2020/21 and the allocation of £250,000 towards asset replacement/repair and projects the total anticipated expenditure for the financial year is £697,020 and that a precept for the year of £407,202 is required to support that expenditure.
- Members agreed to set the precept for 2020/21 at £407,202.
- The Parish Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer was directed to advise Northumberland County Council of this requirement.
- The Parish Clerk was given delegated powers to finalise all contracts and service level agreements as directed by the adopted budget and to develop business plans for the delivery of services for 2020/21.
There being no further business the meeting closed at 11.10