Kenwyn Parish Council set its budget for the 2021/22 financial year in November 2020.
Extremely mindful of the financial pressure on families due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, members decided to accept the recommended budget prepared by their Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer and set a 0% rise in the parish council element of your Council Tax.
This meant the parish council would receive the same amount of funding as it had in the 2020/21 financial year. Money was taken from reserves and other budgets were moved around and altered to achieve this. Members were very keen to assist Kenwyn Parishioners in whatever way they could and hoped this would ease some of the financial pressure the Council Tax brings.
We are aware that by now you will have received your Council Tax Bill for 2021/22. The bill shows how the amount due is calculated i.e. the Cornwall Council element of the bill, the Police and Crime Commissioner part of the bill and the Parish Council part. Against the parish council heading you will see we have been shown as forcing a rise on the council tax burden of 1%.
However, we have investigated this and can now explain how this has arisen.
The taxbase (the number of households who pay Council Tax and therefore pay the parish council element of the bill) has decreased during the pandemic. The council tax charge is calculated by dividing the precept demand by the taxbase and therefore if the taxbase reduces and the precept remains at the same level, the charge will increase.
The overall taxbase reduction is mainly due to an increase in the number of Council Tax Support (CTS) claimants in the last year as a result of the pandemic, which is in effect a discount applied against the taxbase. There has also been a reduction in the overall estimated collection rate for 2021/22 to 98.5% (2020/21 – 99.1%) which reduces the taxbase. This means that in order for Town and Parish Councils to receive the amount set as a precept, they have to charge more to less households therefore increasing the Council Tax level for those who are paying.
The increase in the number of CTS claimants and the reduction in the forecast collection rate, affects virtually all local councils in 2021/22.
Please be assured Kenwyn Parish Council did not raise its precept by this amount or any other amount. It held its precept at the same figure as the previous year therefore there is no rise.
We would like to take this opportunity to explain how the rise in the parish element was calculated.
Our precept for 2020/21 will be £170018.00
The parish council looked very carefully at the precept figures and financial proposals for the next year and took some very difficult decisions.
We are coming under a number of financial pressures not least of which from Cornwall Council who wish to devolve a number of responsibilities and services to parish councils in order to save money. Cornwall Council state they cannot afford to run these services going forward and the communities such as ours will suffer as a result.
Weed spraying was discontinued by Cornwall Council in 2014/15 and our parish began to look unkempt, untidy and uncared for. We have now for two years carried out weed spraying treatment in Shortlanesend, Gloweth and Threemilestone and we have decided that in order to try to improve our parish and its appearance we will extend this programme of weed spraying to cover more path networks across the whole parish in the next financial year. We are identifying the areas that need treating and we will be gathering this information and getting quotes for this work early in 2020.
Chyvelah Ope Play Area – we have finally taken this area over from Cornwall Council after many years of wrangling. We will now improve, update and manage this play area and we will shortly be installing new play equipment and dealing with the very overgrown trees. We have already begun work on making the area safe and replacing broken and neglected play equipment parts. We will obviously incur further costs to insure this area and maintain it going forward.
Climate Emergency Declaration - Kenwyn Parish Council will shortly declare its own Climate Emergency Declaration. A draft Environmental Plan has been produced and the council will strive to meet the objectives in this plan and make Kenwyn as carbon neutral and environmentally and ecologically friendly as possible. Our aims are to:
• Install Solar Panels or a suitable renewable energy.
• Make sure recycling skips are available for public use within the buildings.
• Install acoustic Panels to reduce noise pollution and reduce heat loss.
• To make sure that all materials are from sustainable sources, including any repairs made.
• To install charging points for electric/eco-cars thereby encouraging use of eco-friendly transport.
All of Kenwyn Parish Councillors and the Parish Clerk will carry out the following, as much as is possible: -
• To operate paper-free where possible thereby reducing paper use and wastage.
• To provide tablets for all councillors for parish business to enable paper-free meetings.
• To use recycled paper where possible to reduce need for tree felling.
• To introduce a car-sharing policy to cut down on CO2 and improve air pollution.
• To recycle office supplies where possible to reduce the carbon footprint.
• To email all council correspondence instead of post wherever possible to reduce printing and travel for postal services.
Kenwyn Parish Council will implement the below in any parks and open spaces we own, where possible: -
• To use stainable materials for all new equipment or repairs to reduce the carbon footprint.
• To install nature reserves to increase children’s awareness of nature.
• To provide hedgehog gates to allow free passage for small animals.
• To provide Bee hotels to help increase the bee population which is vital for the planet.
• To provide recycling bins/skips to encourage recycling throughout the parish.
• To plant trees, bushes and wildflowers to help reduce CO2 and improve air quality.
• To provide bike racks to encourage eco-friendly transport and provide a safe place to leave bikes.
• To provide water stations for refilling bottles and reduce reliance on single-use plastic.
• To provide compost bins to enable sustainable reuse of garden waste.
Kenwyn Parish Council will continue to support and provide the following throughout the Parish: -
• To introduce bee stops where possible throughout the parish to increase bee activity.
• To plant wildflowers, trees and shrubs everywhere possible to reduce CO2 and improve the appearance of the parish.
• To provide recycling skips to encourage recycling in the parish.
• To adopt some verges from Cornwall Council to plant wildflowers and shrubs.
• To set up a community working group to work with the community to increase awareness of the environment and to support any existing schemes that focus on environmental issues.
We have set aside £10,000 to begin this work and this has been reallocated from a reserve we were holding to take over the ownership of Glenthorne Road Play Area from Cornwall Council but having been unable to progress this with Cornwall Council for the last few years we have removed the reserve we held for it and reallocated it to our Climate Change Work.
Website - legislation due to come into place in September 2020 means the parish council has been forced to completely overhaul its website to ensure we comply with this legislation. Unfortunately this will be very costly. Works will begin shortly on this.
Dog Waste Bins - given the recent overwhelming success we have seen in Shortlanesend where we purchased six dog waste bins and sited them around the village we have decided to open up this scheme to the rest of the parish and we have set aside a further £2000 for this. Unfortunately we have to pay Cornwall Council to empty these bins so there is also an ongoing cost involved with this but the improvement to the appearance, health and hygiene cannot be overstated.
CCTV - very sadly we have experienced a very serious vandalism problem at our playing field at Threemilestone. As well as the mindless and very severe vandalism we have had smashed glass, fireworks and razor blades placed under children's play equipment which is clearly extremely dangerous. We have also had the fixings on our vandal proof play equipment tampered with, whoever is responsible for this must have some engineering knowledge and the appropriate tools. This leaves the equipment likely to fail when young children are using it. We have been forced to carry out many more inspections, to employ a security patrol company to carry out regular patrols of the area and now to purchase a steel shipping container, cctv equipment, pay for an electricity and telephone connection and all associated costs to allow us to install cctv to try to keep our park users safe. This is very disappointing and expensive and has therefore had a direct impact on the precept for 2020/21 and which accounts for a substantial amount our council tax payers will be levied for. This is something we have wanted to avoid but given the ongoing situation at Threemilestone we have had to take these steps. It is hoped the current vandalism will stop or at least we will be able to identify the culprit/s.
Unfortunately we have similar problems at Chyvelah Ope Play Area together with evidence of drug use so we have also set aside an amount to install cctv there if this continues.
During 2020/21 we will be investing heavily in our parks by using money secured via the S106 obligations put on housing developers in our parish. We have begun this work and of course we need the cctv to protect these new investments. Added to this there will be extra insurance premiums due to cover the new equipment.
Watts Nature Reserve - at Shortlanesend we created the nature reserve as part of a project that also delivered The Beynon Way Cycleway/Footpath that runs from Shortlanesend to the top of Kenwyn Hill. This work was carried out in time for the Millennium, some twenty years ago now. We have been replacing some of the boardwalk and supports at the nature reserve over the last few years but we now need to invest more in this area and do more works to keep this area safe and secure and to ensure its continuation. A sum of money has therefore been set aside for this work. The area is enjoyed by very many people and of course is a nature reserve, so important in these times of climate change.
Playing Fields - as well as the improvements we will be making to our playing fields via the S106 funds we have also had to increase our budget to replace old chain link fencing at Threemilestone and at Shortlanesend. An amount has been set aside for this.
We also need to add an amount to top up our Election Budget following a recent by election called by the required 10 or more residents in Shortlanesend. We will be paying half our allocated reserve of £6000 for this by election so we need to replace that £3000.
We hope this goes some way to explaining why there has been an increase in our precept for the forthcoming financial year. We are excited to push forward with our Climate Change work and we hope to have parishioners and businesses coming on board with us in this vital work. We are also excited to provide the much needed new play equipment at our playing fields.
If you require any further information on the precept for the next financial year please get in touch. We are always happy to explain our plans for the future.