Parish Council to reduce tax

Withiel Parish Council has reduced its precept for 2015, meaning that people in Withiel will pay less tax to the council next year. The precept has been cut by £250, a small saving for every household. Councillors discussed cutting the precept even further, but decided in the interests of prudence to maintain a stronger reserve. With the County Council facing cuts of £194 million, the economic situation is far from clear.

From a financial standpoint the last year has been very successful for Withiel. The council’s inadequate cash reserves have been rebuilt and now meet the guideline of 50 percent of the precept. While a careful rein has been kept on spending, a major benefit arises from the fact that Councillor Simon Coy acted as Clerk on an honorary basis, reducing our biggest item of expenditure to near zero. This situation could not continue indefinitely, but it has helped to put the council in a stronger financial position.

At the December meeting Councillor Coy postulated that the precept could be reduced by £500 to £4,250, but in the light of wider funding uncertainties the council voted to stick at £250. It was decided to set aside £400 for the cost of an election. In the past this has been funded as the need arose, sometimes with difficulty. Making provision seems sensible.

The Council also discussed the Parish Emergency Plan. Every local council has been asked to plan tactics in case of an event such as storms or flooding so extensive that outside services are unable to reach the parish in the short term, or are overwhelmed elsewhere. Councillors Coy and Cubitt have worked up the framework of a plan which would be pertinent to Withiel. Arising from the parish questionnaire sent out in summer, the Chairman Councillor Sue Kirkby has identified people with specific skills and assets who would be willing to help. The Village Hall, which has a heating system that does not rely on mains electricity, features prominently in the plan. Much work remains to be done; there are outside bodies who can advise, and these are being contacted.

The Neighbourhood Plan was also debated. The Chairman has drafted a rough costing, which is no easy task because bureaucratic niceties must be observed – we cannot establish the boundaries of the plan before grant money has been agreed, for instance. But it is proposed that a meeting of interested parties take place before the Parish Council meeting on February 4th. More information on this in the next News & Views.

A planning application has been made to change the use of a commercial workshop at Bosneives Mill to a “small shop and café”. After some debate as to whether this could be a Trojan Horse for an undesirable development it was agreed to support the application.

The Council also agreed to associate itself with the so-called ‘Chacewater Letter’ sent by a group of parish councils to Cornwall Council arguing for greatest transparency in council dealings and more control over planning decisions. Councillor Malone raised the subject of the extension of the big shed at Great Brynn Barton, to which a planning official had agreed despite Parish Council objections. He quoted from Cornwall Council’s 2014 residents survey which found that only 24 percent of people think the council is efficient and well-run.

Finally, it was said that construction of the monster turbines to go up on St Breock Down will begin on January 13th.

The next Parish Council meeting will be on January 7th, starting at 7:15pm. – Pat Malone