The Parish Council, like the District and County Councils, raises money for its expenditure from your council tax. The Parish Council element of the council tax is called the Parish Precept.
The Parish Council has now submitted its budget and you will be wanting to know how much we are asking you to pay this year. The parish precept requirement for this year is £218,420. This is an increase of £33,420 from last year, and means an increase in your council tax bill as follows: £10.97 a year, or 91p a month, if you occupy a band A (lowest rated) property, £16.46 a year, or £1.37 a month, if you occupy a band D property, £32.92 a year, or £2.74 a month if you occupy a band H (highest rated) property. The percentage rise is 17.54%. Last year the Precept was slightly reduced. Thus the increase in 2018/19 represents an 8.6% increase per year over the two years, 2017 to 2019.
The Parish Council would like to explain why we have asked for this sum from your council tax. Essentially, Great Shelford, and indeed the whole area, is experiencing unprecedented growth. As a result our village is feeling the stresses and strains. From the input we receive from you, we understand that there is a strong will for the parish council to do what it can to improve matters for the village.
There is little doubt that highways issues continue to dominate the village agenda: roads, traffic, pedestrian and cyclist safety, maintenance of roads and pavements, parking and so on. Previous years’ projects have only slowly got underway in 2017/18, and their completion and some related costs will inevitably run into 2018/19. The money allocated in previous years is set aside to cover these overrun projects. For 2018/19 we have budgeted to commission a professional investigation into the options for improving safety at the Granhams Road junction, and to pay for some mundane, but very necessary items such as road sweeping and drain clearing. As a result, highways spending represents a quarter – 27.7% – of our budgeted total expenditure.
The largest area of spending for 2018/19 centres around the Recreation Ground – 28.1% of our total expenditure. Over 2017/18, the appearance and facilities of the Recreation Ground have already been much improved, in conjunction with the village’s energetic and capable Playscape Group. Next year Playscape will continue to fundraise to provide better play provision. The Parish Council in turn aims to add some improvements of its own, with an upgrade to the Memorial Hall car park (with a few more parking spaces in consequence), with improved access and security. At the same time, with a large contribution from the Feast Committee, we plan to overhaul, relocate and replace the drains, power and water supplies from the car park (which serve the Memorial Hall, Sports Pavilion and the Recreation Ground), also adding internet access. The current services date back to the 1950s and are feeling their age. These are not glamorous improvements, but they will be of great benefit to all users, foremost among them the Shelford Feast, the largest attended single activity in the village (which provides valuable supporting funds to our local charities and groups). As with highways, previous year’s projects were started in 2017/18 but their completion and some related costs will run into 2018/19. The money allocated in previous years is set aside to cover these projects. We further hope, in 2018/19, to consider the possibility of providing a public toilet on the Recreation Ground and, to providing a seating area with decking around the Pavilion.
The Parish Council still aspires to acquire more recreation space, as the recreation ground really isn’t big enough. To that end we have again made a contribution to reserves of £30,000. Contributions from developers – called Section 106 contributions – have in the past provided an important funding source for such projects, but we do not expect to receive any contributions from new local building developments in the 2018/19 financial year. Section 106 funding contributed 10.9% or £34,885 to last year’s budget, and thus allowed us to peg last year’s precept. Nevertheless, we are committed to continuing to accumulate a pot of money to allow us to contemplate purchasing Grange Field, the field beside the recreation ground, should it (or any other suitable recreation land space) become available.
Inevitably the Budget includes all the traditional items of general maintenance and administration associated with the village – salaries, the ongoing costs of running the Recreation Ground, Sports Pavilion, sports pitches, parish cemetery and other facilities or maintenance of a large village of 4,000 plus residents. Savings have been made where possible, with many budget items reduced by a small % to try and limit the increase in Precept for 2018/19, without having a dramatic impact on village services.
We are always reluctant to increase the Precept, but hope you feel that the improvements will be to your benefit. Great Shelford continues, deservedly, to be a very popular village, because of its vibrant community and excellent facilities. The Parish Council is seeking to do everything in its power to make sure the village continues to be a good place to live.
Here are the detailed figures for next year’s budget supporting the 2018/2019 Precept (click picture to enlarge):