Councillor Jayne Chapman
Attended Full Council meeting on 25th November.
Councillor Alan Goggin
- Last full Council TDC meeting Nov 25.
- One of the items for debate was the partial street lighting run by Essex County Council. There was a proposition to counteract the decision by asking ECC to put back on all the lights, everywhere, all the time and for Tendring residents to pay extra in their Council Tax. Many arguments for both sides. There were several “stories” but not a great deal of authenticated facts. There was a clear divide between Rural and Town Councillors. Many spoke in favour and many against. I agreed with the proposition that before TDC was committed to a spend of £380,000 over the next 3 years that requests should be made to Police, Ambulance, First Responders and Fire Brigade to have their comment before making a decision. There was discussion as to the actual cost and even if ECC would allow. Interestingly our nearest neighbours’ (Colchester) later voted against turning lights back on at their expense. Big argument about some residents paying twice, when 30% of the lights were kept on all the time. It is not just an Essex initiative. Many councils have adopted a similar approach – and some for several years already apparently without any adverse effects.
- Another discussion and vote was in relation to the discounts given to some ratepayers under the local Council tax Support Scheme. It was to reduce to 80% from its current level of 85%. At already one of the biggest discounts in Essex it was an attempt to stop the area becoming a target for “benefit migrants”. I voted in favour.
- An item to support the continued opening of Harwich & Clacton hospitals was agreed.
- Sadly the meeting went on till gone 11.00pm. Probably too long.
- Since the TDC meeting the cabinet has met and is proposing a zero percent increase in rates for 2015/2016. Also proposed was a freeze on some key issue prices for our Brightlingsea residents. No increase for swimming pools, gyms, sports pitches, most licences, This is subject to final approval at full Council.
- As mentioned at the Finance meeting there is further news regarding the paddling pool. The firm to carry out the bid preparation is being questioned. As explained on several occasions the Town Council may be asked to reconsider their instructions to divert funds from the Paddling pool budget to the swimming pool budget. Some has been spent on the pool but an amount remains unspent and unlikely to be spent on improvements. This needs to be discussed alongside the spending of section 106 monies. As mentioned last month there are probably 2 good Brightlingsea projects that are chasing the one “pot of money” and Council may be asked their opinion as to which is most important and advantageous to the Town
- Following last months successful bid to the “Big Society Fund from the Bowls Club, there was another bid of a similar nature by the Cricket Club. It was given a first stage approval and is due to be discussed again in February following some suggested amendments. As both groups operate from (effectively) council run grounds this is a good improvement for the town’s residents. I am Chairman of the Big Society Fund.
- In my capacity as Portfolio holder for Finance I confirm that it is going to be more and more difficult to find year on year savings. In the last 5 years and the next 1 year the total savings are £27.9 million. Carrying them forward every year has reduced to net budget to £14.53 million from where it was £21.94 million in 2010. A reduction of £9.1 million since 2011/12. These savings have not used reserves or the new home bonus. Some other district Councils are in real trouble. Tendrings rates for a band D house are £147.64. This is the second cheapest in Essex and compares very well with – say Colchester who are 23% higher ate £175.23 and even Harlow who at £259.13 are 75% higher than TDC!
- As always I would be interested to hear from any Councillors or residents with ideas about generating and saving more money in the district. The cabinet meet formally or informally every week and if there are any Brightlingsea Issues that you would like me to especially raise – please feel free to ask.
Councillor Graham Steady
Attended Corporate Management Meeting on the 4th November. The main item on the agenda was the Local Council Tax Support Scheme. The percentage of council tax to be paid by people on the scheme has been increased from 15 to 20%, although this is to be ratified at the next full council meeting on the 25th November. This was discussed and approved with an amendment that child maintenance should not be included in the calculations this has triggered a special council meeting for the 8th January as it has to go out for consultation. Attended Corporate Management meeting on the 2nd December this is moving now to a January meeting when future budgets will be scrutinised.