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2017/18 Parish Council Tax Featured

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The work of the Broadclyst Parish Council has changed beyond all recognition from what it was 5 years ago, with the Council delivering additional services as well as managing the change to its parish as the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point strategic development sites build out. The Council has grown in many other ways, for example in 2011/12 the Council employed one part time clerk for 16 hours per week; in 2017/18 its team of 9 full and part time staff will put in over 160 man hours a week. Council’s community infrastructure and assets have increased by 35% in the last decade, and the cost of operating and maintaining these community-owned amenities has been added to the parish tax.

The pattern of non-statutory services being devolved to parish councils from principal authorities with minimal or no financial support is likely to increase, however the General Power of Competence, introduced under the 2011 Localism Act, enables town and parish councils to undertake projects and deliver services which they would not have previously had a Power to do. This positive and democratic process enables local councils to respond in a proactive and innovative manner to the requirements of their residents at grass-roots level, demonstrating fiscal responsibility to spend tax payers money in accordance with the wishes of the local community.

Additional services undertaken by the Broadclyst Parish Council in 2017/18 include the provision of a community youth club, visibility splay grass cutting, and parish Lengthsman works including the filling of small potholes on the parish’s 53 miles of unclassified roads. Principal authorities have strict service-level criteria to which they must adhere; the flexibility afforded by a service level agreement between parish and contractor enables a more tailored service to be provided. For example, the DCC grass cutting contract requires certain junctions to be cut for visibility; the parish contract includes additional ‘cosmetic’ cutting which in turn makes the parish a nicer place to visit, boosting the local tourism trade and the economy of local businesses such as shops and pubs.

Service delivery comes at a cost, which is perceived by some to be double taxation but in essence it is relocating the collection of the monies to pay for a service to a more local level. This has resulted in an inevitable increase in town and parish precepts nationally in order to retain and improve services and facilities that are considered vital and beneficial across the parish; there are many fantastic projects and works being done by town and parish councils all over the country. It is important to understand how the nature, size, and work of the council has changed when looking at the annual precept.

 The parish council precept for 2017/18 will be £275,744, which in real terms equates to £3.51 per band D equivalent property per week, an increase of 65p per week. When the level of services now paid for from that figure is considered it represents excellent value for money: local tax paid by local residents for a local service.

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