Notes of Parish Meetings
Notes from the Parish Council Meeting - January 2011
The following were amongst items discussed at Parish Council meetings and information received by the Clerk. The full minutes may be found here.
Yet More Change at the Council
We are very sorry that after a three-week period our new Clerk Jo Howard decided that ours is not the job for her and we have reluctantly parted company. This means that once again the Council is without a Clerk, and I have to report that this protracted lack of continuity has had, and will continue to have, serious repercussions on the service which the Parish Council can offer to the Village. It is doubly unfortunate that this has coincided with our losing this year some of our most experienced and hard-working Councillors; and the result will inevitably be that many of the projects we may have wished to push forward will have to be put on hold for the indefinite future.
Until we have a new Clerk in post Linda Miller and I will endeavour to keep the Parish Office running. It should be open daily at least from 10 till 12.30, but we recommend phoning in advance to check if you wish to pay us a visit.
If you know anyone who may be interested in serving our community as Clerk please contact the Parish Office.
The year end is the period when all our Councils -- Parish, District and County -- set their budgets. Everyone will be aware that central Government is squeezing Council budgets hard and forcing the District and County Councils to find major savings. These inevitably come at the expense of services, and there is then pressure to devolve some of those to the Parish level. We have already taken on the cost of some of our streetlights and the mowing of our grass verges. As we come to set our own budget it is very frustrating that we do not yet have details of either central Government's likely grants or District or County budgets, but a message from the CEO of the County includes these words:
`The knowledge that the County almost certainly will not increase council tax in 2011/12 may or may not provide an opportunity for parish/town councils and other precepting bodies to raise their own tax rates in 2011/12, especially if you believe local investment may be needed to ameliorate the impact of central government funding cuts impacting on other public bodies'. Since no further details are likely to be provided before January, this leaves our own budgeting process in a great deal of uncertainty. All I can do at this stage is to assure you that we shall do all we can to handle our finances prudently and to use our precept -- which is your money -- for the good of the whole community.
The rules governing Parish Councils and VAT are even more arcane than most such regulations. Up to now, Girton Parish Council has been exempt from charging VAT though we can reclaim it, a situation which has clearly been to the great benefit of our residents. However, we are now in a situation where this can no longer be the case, and the Council is urgently reviewing our options. The most likely scenario, though, is that we shall be obliged to register fully for VAT. Regrettably, we shall then have to pass on the increase to our users, since the Council is not in a position to subsidise them to the cost of the village as a whole.
The Recreation Centre
This report is being written in the coldest period we have had for several years, and all our sports pitches will stay out of commission until they can recover after the thaw. It is often difficult to reconcile the aspirations of all our users, and our Groundsman sometimes has hard decisions to make in order to ensure our fields stay at their best. Please be understanding if he requests you not to use certain parts of the fields in bad weather. We remind all users that no cycles or dogs are allowed on the main playing field, and that pushchairs should be wheeled between the pitches (where the going is likely to be easier anyway).
Although the Pavilion heating system was overhauled in the spring, it seems to have failed its first real test. The engineers have been invited back, and as I scurry to meet the deadline, one is investigating the problems. We apologise to all our users for the uncomfortable time they may have experienced.
The shelter at the Huntingdon Road/Thornton Road corner is in very poor repair, and the Council recently received a report that it is in a potentially dangerous state. By the time you read this it should have been removed, and the Council hopes soon to replace it with one to match the shelter at Girton Corner.
Abbeyfield has begun its development on Wellbrook Way. The plans are for a 76-apartment block of close-care accommodation, which should include a number of facilities which we hope they will share with the wider community. Meanwhile after several complaints Taylor-Wimpey have mown the public open space opposite, but we are no further forward in resolving the issues which prevent the Council taking over the space and developing it.
The next meetings of the Parish Council will be on Wednesday 19 January 2011 and Wednesday 16 February 2011 starting at 7.30pm, in St Vincent's Close Community Centre. Members of the public are welcome to speak at all Parish Council meetings.