Fressingfield Parish Precept 2018/19 from the Chairman
Parish Councils are being been empowered by Central Government to introduce new rights, responsibilities and powers for communities to ensure that decisions are taken locally on a range of issues. The 2011 Localism Act devolves some power from Central Government to County, District and Parish councils over housing and community regeneration. However, this local accountability comes at a difficult time. As a result of cuts in funding from Central Government, local authorities face a financial crisis, with most planning to increase council tax from April while continuing to cut services.
Fressingfield Parish Council’s interlocutors; Suffolk County Council, Mid Suffolk District Council and Police Authority; have all had to make severe cuts to service provisions. This has created changed expectations for us in Fressingfield.
With this background of diminishing provision and with Localism as the projected way forward, Fressingfield Parish Council has taken some positive steps, the financial aspects of which were considered in early Autumn 2017 when uncertainty about grants and funding streams was high.
Thus we have a range of projects and proposals in place
- The Neighbourhood Development Plan for Fressingfield 2016-2036. The active enthusiastic group of villagers, some with expertise have begun the development of the Plan (two year timescale), which will provide guidelines for the future sustainable development of the village, covering housing, infrastructure, heritage and landscape, economics and employment and well being issues. To ensure this had the best start, the parish council under wrote the start up costs allowing the appointment of a consultant in the first instant. The picture for grants to carry out this work, is now more promising sot the initial expenditure will at least in part be restored to Parish coffers. This NDP will be critically valuable as we work with MSDC over planning and growth in our village.
- The Police budgets are at alarming levels and with the loss of our local PCSO, (he is becoming a police officer), in September the opportunity arose to work with other local parishes to provide shared PCSO cover. The budget needed is significant but was felt compensatory for historic shrinkage of police provision. We are in early discussions with Suffolk Police and are exploring possible partnerships. Whilst Suffolk Police resources have dwindled, their scope to put boots on the ground have disappeared even faster. The Parish Council will be working with our Neighbourhood Watch group to develop ideas. Should this project not come to fruition, then funds will be restored to parishioners with a reduced precept next year.
- Some of the maintenance services previously undertaken by other agencies who now have zero/stagnant budgets, are encouraging local, parish based solutions to be found. To this end several projects of improvement will be carried by the Parish Council making use of volunteers where possible and groups of interested citizens.
- So even before the Neighbourhood Development Plan is completed, projects related to the needs of villagers are beginning. These could well include Play Area Provision, Allotments for leisure gardeners, a village minibus to support access to local towns. Input from other groups is to be warmly welcomed.
Thus in Fressingfield, we are taking the best from localism at its word and enacting matters that will enhance life in the village for all citizens. The costs will be borne by all householders, but the benefits should also be enjoyed by all if not now, then in future years.
Garry Deeks, Chair, Fressingfield Parish Council