Amble Town Council – Jan/Feb 2013
These days everyone has to be more careful about their spending. For the last few years we have looked carefully at running costs and where we can make savings, while still giving value for money.
Everyone, including your councillors, wants more things done in the town and better facilities but few want their Council tax to go up! However prices continue to rise so it costs us more to maintain what is in place. Anti-social behaviour and vandalism have declined but there are still those who make a mess with graffiti or destroy public property – so money must be used on repairs. Apart from the precept – the money from your Council taxes- the only other way to fund projects is from grants, of which there are fewer available, and competition great. Despite rises in core costs, we have this year slightly reduced our precept request but this may be the last year we can do that.
National Government have said they do not want council tax to rise – threatening fines to Regional Councils who go over inflation limits – but this is on top of reductions of national funding to these councils. County Councils like ours have been reducing their ‘backroom’ costs for a number of years but we have seen frontline services affected. Some cost cutting measures have been to hand over town seats, litter bins and bus shelters to Parish Councils; soon village greens and cemeteries will be added to these. However, Government have made two changes which will substantially affect us over the next two to three years.
Firstly, Government has changed the way Council Tax Grant is assessed. This is always a complex issue but the effect on parishes this year is being lessened by a grant from NCC. As we understand it, Amble has a large number of properties that receive Council Tax benefit; the new assessment takes these out of the equation and so reduces the amount Government gives to regional bodies, so this year the Amble amount drops by over £22,000! The new County Council elected in May will decide if they need to find money by further reductions in services; or divide the amount amongst ratepayers.
Secondly, the decision that every employer must offer employees a pension scheme will affect us. We employ only a few people so did not need to implement this when it began, but by 2015 we must do so. This could mean up to £10,000 added each year – almost a 10% increase for each household – a sum which we cannot avoid and are unlikely to be able to absorb.
Few welcome Council Tax rises, but it appears that inevitably it will rise. Money is necessary for more and better facilities in the town.
How can you get more and better facilities for everyone in our town? By asking for grant help. Most grant funded projects are now based around community benefit, an area we fulfil, but these are only successful where there is community input, in ideas and work done, making the project a success.
Lately Heritage Lottery funding has been awarded to some schemes in the North. The majority are Community led. Sadly this seems to be an area we are short on. Prove us wrong – come up with a great idea to benefit Amble and prepare to see that idea through to completion. There is help available to guide you through the process, checking the viability of your idea and what is required for an application. So don’t wait for someone else to do it, YOU think around what you want here, who can help you and how to get it going – and you might just be lucky enough to achieve your dream for the town.
• Cemetery Memorial Wall : a new supplier has been sourced and plaques can now be ordered from the Council Office.
• Amble North Entrance Planter : originally planned for the end of Rotary Way but due to highways regulations now to be near Rivergreen and will be ready for planting soon.
• Amble South Entrance : we are considering placing a planter in the form of a Coal Truck on the concrete plinth where the wooden boat seat used to be.
• Town Seats: we are currently working with Northumberland Prison to produce some new seats and refurbish some old ones for the town. They have generously donated 2 as examples of the work they can do. one is to be sited on the Links near Island View, along with a bench we have commissioned.
• Elections: These will be held on 2nd May for both County Council and Amble Town Council. If you are interested in what happens in your town, please either put yourself forward for election or go along and register a vote for those you feel will do their best for the town.
I raised the issue of lack of sports facilities in Amble at the Council meeting in November. There is a distinct lack of good football pitches, particularly now that the Welfare pitch has deteriorated. (My interest as Secretary and Manager of Amble St Cuthbert F.C. was of course duly declared).
When I travel to away matches and see the sort of facilities enjoyed at places like Longhoughton, Shilbottle and Ashington, it highlights the need for us to up-our-game and see what we can get for our community. The issue of sports facilities matching the populations of settlements was mentioned in the County Council’s planning review and so we would seem to have an obvious place to start an appeal for assistance to the powers at Morpeth.
Your Council’s considerations of this issue have begun, and I hope they can facilitate all interested persons and bodies in bringing a significant improvement to the sporting facilities available to Amble’s keen, and often very talented, sporting youngsters.
Cllr Sam Palin
Town: 14th Mar 11th April 9th May 13th June
Cemeteries: 21st Mar 18th April 16th May 20th June
Finance: 28th Feb 28th Mar 25th April 23rd May 27th June
Allotments: 6th April 10am (site visits 9am)