Parish Council Budget 2017-2018
In November, the Parish Council circulated a survey around the Parish to help inform it with setting its budget for 2017/2018. The Parish Council is extremely grateful for people taking the time to complete these – including many detailed comments.
We received just over 60 survey responses (from approximately 370 households).
Of these, 78% said they would support paying an increased precept in exchange for additional facilities/amenities.
Frequent themes raised in comments were street lighting, road safety, bus service provision and tidiness and presentation of the village.
Street lights: The Parish Council has agreed to budget for a programme of adding additional street lights – initially budgeting for two additional lights in 2017-18, with the intention of adding further lights in subsequent years.
Road safety: The Parish Council shares the concerns raised and is focusing on pursuing the county council to invest in improvements for the A19. The indicative cost of a pedestrian crossing on the A19 is around £40,000 - £50,000, and it has proved difficulty to find a location that complies with highways regulations. As such whilst recognising the concerns, there is not an immediate opportunity for investment. More details on A19 issues are on our website: www.escrick.org/council/a19
Bus service: The chairman had been in discussion with EYMS regarding rerouting the no 18 service to go via Escrick – however, in the past month EYMS have advised that due to reasons including the impact of the Skipwith Road/A19 junction on journey times they are unable to progress this at present. We will continue to explore opportunities with other bus operators – but unfortunately the opportunity that we were pursuing is no longer viable.
Presentation of the village, and appointing a lengthsman: Several surveys commented that this may be better lead as a community initiative, and it was agreed to initially trial a community ‘spring clean’ (as undertaken by some of our neighbouring villages) and review the need for a ‘lengthsman’ from mid-way through the year.
The Parish Council decided to increase the precept to £19,000 - including new provisions to add additional street-lighting, maintain Parish Council trees, a provision for general village maintenance or lengthsman, and replenishing reserves (to address concerns raised by our annual audit regarding levels of reserves).
The table attached below shows how the budget has been allocated.
For clarity, we have omitted items that are funded through donations and grants – for example the Playing Fields Association made donations that offset the cost of maintenance of the playing fields, and the Parish Council has obtained grants for the defibrillator and maintenance of the fountain area.
Concerns were raised as to whether the survey results were statistically significant, and whether the council could rely on an informal survey of this nature:
As part of the budget discussions it was noted that the survey process had limitations – it was intended to provide supplementary information to councillors’ existing knowledge and wasn’t intended to be a vote or referendum. It was considered that in balance an imperfect survey was better than none at all.
Could the council reduce expenditure by better tendering of its existing contracts?
We do look for good value from our contracts – and whilst we will continue to pursue opportunities to improve cost effectiveness we do not believe that there are significant savings to be made. The attached budget summary shows the contractual approach for each significant item of expenditure.
Too much is spent on children, specifically the playground.
The council has spent very little of its own funds on the playground/playing fields – these have been almost entirely funded by donations from the Escrick Playing Fields Association – a charity established by parents in the village to fund the development and maintenance of the playing fields. The costs to the council for this facility are limited to insurance and grass cutting.
Too much expenditure is focused in the village, and not enough on outlying residents:
This is a concern that the council needs to be mindful of – but naturally amenities will tend to be concentrated in the village as a focal point of the Parish. For completeness, it is worth noting that the Parish Council has invested in new street lighting in Hollicarrs Close.
Can the Parish Council provide more grit bins?
The Parish Council is already in the process of procuring three additional grit bins from this year's budget.
The council should cut trees/bushes that overhang pavements
A new provision has been made in the budget for maintenance of trees on land owned by the Parish Council. It is the responsibility of residents to maintain trees/bushes on their property so that they do not overhang the pavement or highway.
Could the Parish Council fund a bypass like Riccall has got?
The cost of a bypass is estimated to be many £million to acquire land and build – and isn’t considered as something that the Parish Council could undertake.
Improved rubbish collection service and reinstate weekly collections
Selby District Council are responsible for rubbish collections.
The village green fence and benches require repairs
The village green committee are aware of this and looking at options.