What can you buy for £2.50? A cup of Coffee? A piece of cake? Not a pint, that's for sure nor a pack of cigarettes. Why my obsession with £2.50? Well that is slightly more than the amount the Council is increasing the Precept by. The Precept is increasing it by £2.13 that's less than 5p a week.
So if you live in a Band D property your precept will go from £31.35 to £33.48. And remember we are legally obligated to spend in the Parish or on things for the benefit of the residents. So what do you get for your money? We have 3 office staff, based in our Thames Avenue office, providing us with the clerical support that we need. They are the day-to-day face of the council, they will be the people you see if your visit the office, they will be the ones that answer your 'phone call and answer your emails. The office hours are Monday to Friday 9am until 4pm. We will continue using our own maintenance staff to empty litter and dog waste bins, to maintain the playgrounds and deal with fly tipping and graffiti. By having our own staff we can prioritise the work, and ensure the things that are important to our residents get done, in a timely manner. Only last month, in response to a complaint about very offensive graffiti, our staff were out within the hour removing it, much to the complainants' satisfaction.
On another occasion, we received an email complaining about fly tipping on Tadpole Lane, within a few hours we had received a follow-up email congratulating us on out swift response in removing the offending waste. Our maintenance staff work on a rota 7 days a week.
We are also expanding on a trial we started last April in part of Taw Hill, to cut the grass and trim the shrubs. In the tail end of 2014, we discussed with Swindon Borough Council the idea of taking over these tasks. The trial started in April 2015. We kept a close eye on the quality of the work being done by our contractors, with the view, that if satisfactory, we would gradually provide these services across the Parish. But external events, in October/November last year, meant we had to reconsider our plans. Instead of having a phased rollout, over several years, we had to consider taking the work on, all in one go, from April 2016.
We have spent the last few months, carefully considering the implications of this action. We sought legal advice as well as financial, and spent many hours discussing what we thought would be best for the area we live in and the residents. We came to the conclusion that by taking on the responsibility, we could provide a service more attuned to the needs of our residents. So from April, you will be seeing our contractors doing the grounds maintenance, cutting the grass, trimming the roadside shrubs, pruning low trees (taller trees will still be deal with by SBC).
The Precept also provides Leisure Gardens, a community bus and also we provide small grants for local groups. All in all we feel we provide a lot for £33.48 which is just over 64p a week. You can see the 2016 - 2017 budget by clicking here Parish Precept Over 100k Haydon Wick 2016/17
The Parish Precept is an element of the Council Tax collected by Swindon Borough which is the passed to the Parish Council to provide services within the Parish. The amount collected for a Band D house for 2015 - 2016 has not increased from the previous year although the services provided have been improved due to bringing services back in-house and by a rise in the number of properties used in the formula. You can see the 2015 - 2016 budget here Parish Precept Over 100K Haydon Wick 2015/16 (.pdf)