Parish Update


 

The Precept

The workings and responsibilities of a Parish Council are funded by levying a 'precept' which is a small amount of surplus tax added to the local Council Tax and is collected by the Local Council for it then to be passed on to the Parish Council. It provides the majority of income required for the Parish Council to function and was, in previous years, calculated taking into account a Discretionary Grant made by the Local Council.

Initially, the Discretionary Grant was quite substantial and given to supplement services to be provided by Parish Councils to the outlying villages where the Local Authority was falling short in providing services in comparison to those assigned to the Town Centre - whatever the colour - Local Authorities deemed it necessary to withdraw some, if not all, of their financial support for Parish Councils leading their funding to become totally dependent on income from the 'Precept'.

In the case of Kelvedon Hatch, the Parish Council set about providing a strong financial base in order to be able to continue to carry out important functions such as the hiring of Poor's Field as a provision of community open recreation space, the provision and maintenance of the children's play area, the upkeep of Eagle Field, the acquisition and maintenance of Swan Pond, assistance in the maintenance and upkeep of the Village Hall, regular litter picking, the maintenance of St. Nicholas Churchyard, the upkeep of the War Memorial, the maintenance of the bus shelters and seats and regular dealings with both Brentwood Borough Council and Essex County Council with matters relative to the Parishoners. However, since the financial year 2005/6 the Parish Council has experienced a sometimes gradual and sometimes severe reduction in the annual Support Grants from £27,406 to £10,665 in 2016/17. Despite this, by prudent budgeting and careful planning it was able to maintain - and in some cases improve - services, whilst having virtual zero per cent increases in the precept requirements. This was more than pertinent to the 'austerity years' commencing in 2008/9 through to 2015/16.

This year, however, the Parish Council has been forced to succumb to pressure piled on it by the sudden decision of Brentwood Borough Council to lower the Discretionary Grant from £15,914 in 2015/16 to £10,665 in 2016 and a projection to £4297 in the financial year 2017/18 plus the complete abolition of another grant - the Localisation of Council Tax Scheme (LCTS). To all intent and purposes, the Parish Council has come to the conclusion that a total withdrawal of the Discretionary Grant is imminent. On top of this, the current Government is expected to introduce legislation to allow Parish Councils to only increase the precept by 2% annually which would make it virtually impossible for them to make up the Local Authority's withdrawal of funding.

Taking all matters into account, in order to maintain the level of services currently provided by the Parish Council and in order to maintain a healthy level of reserves, this year's precept has been set at £69,200 which for a Band D Council Tax amounts to £65.72 per annum. Depending on each individual household's band of Council Tax, the increase is only a matter of between 50 to 70 pence per week.

The Parish Council is committed to providing services superior to those provided by our Borough Council in order to make Kelvedon Hatch a desirable place to live. With this as our sole objective, we trust that our residents will understand and support our actions in order to achieve this.

Cllr Stephen Saunders, Chairman, Kelvedon Hatch Parish Council



School Road Parking and Speed Limit


The Parish Council has been seeking enforcement of the no-stopping zone outside the Primary School and introduction of a 20 mph speed limit. Enforcement action has been taken but the parking problem persists. The school and the Hopscotch Nursery have been asked to advise parents of the penalties if they do stop on the special markings.

The consultation period on a variable 20 mph limit operating from 08:15h to 09:15h and 14:45h to 15:45h on weekdays only ended on September 11 2016.

An objection was received and this has delayed the process. There is now a question mark against funding for the scheme in the 2016/17 financial year. We understand the objection was on the grounds that there should be a 20 mph limit along the length of School Road with housing - something the Parish Council supported but which was rejected by the County Council in favour of the more expensive scheme.

Dangerous Parking of Vehicles

Vehicles are regularly parked within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction at a number of locations in the village, contrary to the Highway Code. The Police have taken action where they believe this constitutes a danger to other road users. The Parish Council has identified Glovers Field, Mill Lane, and Church Road as locations where this inconsiderate and potentially dangerous behaviour is frequent.

There is a specific problem of parking on pavements so as to make it impossible for users of mobility vehicles or push-chairs to pass, often forcing them into the road.

A Private Member's Bill would have extended the ban on parking on pavements in London to the rest of England. It was withdrawn after the Government promised a round table discussion with interested parties including its principal supports, the Local Government Association and the Guide Dogs Association.

The Parish Council has written to the Transport Minister, Andrew Jones MP, to draw attention to the difficulties of securing for Traffic Regulation Orders to ban pavement parking in a number of residential side roads in the village.

In the meantime, please consider the needs of people with pushchairs, mobility scooters and assistance dogs, and do not park so that they are forced into the road by your failure to appreciate their difficulties.

Quiet Lane, Church Road

The Parish Council was delighted when Essex County Council announced that Church Road met the criteria for inclusion in the county's Quiet Lane scheme, which prioritises walkers, cyclists and horse riders over motor vehicles. Regrettable we have learned that an error by ECC means that it does not fully meet requirements for existing vehicle speeds. We are awaiting the results of a second speed survey and will be very disappointed if this fails to support the project, which would, among other things, make life more pleasant and safer for the residents of Church Road.

898 Service

At the February Parish Council meeting, it was announced that Brentwood Community Transport intended to continue the 898 service after April on a three month trial. The service will terminate at Brentwood Community Hospital but is being re-routed to serve the Deal Tree Surgery.

Please consider using the buses as an alternative to your car. It is more environmentally responsible and plays a part in making sure the service continues to operate for others who need it.

Flooding A128 Ongar Road

The Parish Council has succeeded in getting the repeated flooding near the Briars and Thorns on to Essex County Council's agenda, thanks to support from division member Cllr Ann Naylor. Scrub on the western side of the road has exposed the ditch that is one of the causes of flooding but remedial work has yet to be scheduled and is unlikely to be carried out before April 2017. The scrub clearance also improves the site lines so that motorists can see any obstructions including flooding should it recur.

Litter

The Parish Council spends £6,000 a year on clearing litter around the village. This is in addition to the clearance regularly conducted by Brentwood Borough Council, for which we all pay in our council tax. Please ensure that you and your family do not drop litter, use the provided bins, and keep the village tidy.

Swan Pond

The Swan Pond is one of the village's strongest assets. The Parish Council maintains the pond with an improved habitat for wildlife a priority. Please do not feed the resident ducks with white bread which is harmful to their health and to the environment. The Parish Council has arranged with Alans DIY for duck food to be available in small quantities so that children can continue to feed ducks on the Swan Pond without harming them or the wildlife we are trying to encourage. Also do not release captive Goldfish or other pets into the pond. This is illegal and damaging to the pond's ecosystem.

A licence is required to fish in the pond. Visit www.gov.uk/fishing-licences/when-you-need-a-licence 

Superfast Broadband

Superfast broadband is being rolled out in rural areas across the County. Under earlier proposals half the village would have qualified and half would not, and the Parish Council made representations to ensure this did not happen. An announcement of Phase 2a of the programme in September indicates that this risk has been removed. Work on superfast broadband for the remainder of the village is due to being in 2016 and to be completed by 2019.