Possibility of Parish tax rising in 2014

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PARISH tax in Downend, Bromley Heath and Mangotsfield could rise next year after services provided by South Gloucestershire Council have to be bought back by communities.

The authority is looking to make cuts of £43million by 2015 and has agreed to transfer ‘street scene’ services like grass cutting, dog waste bins and floral displays to parish councils and community groups.

It says the move, which will be introduced from April 2014 and follows a consultation with members of the public during the summer, will save around £328,000.

Under the changes, the council will continue to deliver a ‘core standard’ of services including maintaining the area’s roads and dealing with litter, weeds, graffiti and fly tipping.

But it has been left to parish and town councils and community organisations to decide whether to provide further discretionary services.

The parish precept – or parish tax – is the sum collected by South Gloucestershire Council via the council tax and given to parish and town councils to fund additional services.

Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council (DBHPC) has agreed to buy back all services but is unable to confirm at the moment whether this will lead to a rise in the parish precept.

Mangotsfield Rural Parish Council is looking to buy back some services and admits this will ‘most likely’ to lead to a price increase.

Angela Hocking, clerk of DBHPC, said it was too early to say if the parish council would have to put its precept up.

“We have said that as a parish council we will take over the services that South Gloucestershire aren’t going to do anymore. 

“We resolved to buy in the services for a period of three years and to allocate funds within our budgets when we look at our precept for next year.

“No decision has been made on the precept at all and that will be something we will be looking very closely at.

“We are hoping to keep the precept as low as possible for obvious reasons – it’s a difficult time for everybody – but we have to bear in mind all the projects we hope to do as well as taking this on board. We have a lot of calculating to do but nothing has been agreed as yet.”

Mangotsfield Rural Parish Council consulted with residents and found 66 per cent of people felt it was ‘very important’ to keep dog waste bins. 

Residents also said they wanted the maintenance of highway grass verges to be kept at the current standard. 

The maintenance of shrub and flower beds was felt to be less important so the parish council will accept the core standard service for 2014, reviewing the situation in 2015.

 “We will now be working with South Gloucestershire Council in order to maintain the current service for dog waste bins and grass verges for which extra funding will now be required,” Mangotsfield Rural Parish Council said in its latest newsletter.

“This will most likely result in an increase to the parish precept for 2014/2015.” 

South Gloucestershire Council is working with the 46 parish and town councils to confirm the discretionary services that they and their residents wish to receive in addition to the core standard.

To date, 26 parish and town councils have notified the authority of their intentions for next year. Of these, 11 will buy back some or all of their current ‘discretionary’ services from the council, nine will have the core service alone and six have opted to make alternative arrangements for some discretionary services using either their own staff or other contractors. Unparished wards will all receive the core service.

South Gloucestershire Council is currently consulting with residents and businesses on its budget and council tax levels for next year.

The authority says it is on The authority says it is on track to reach its target of £43m of savings by the end of 2014/15 but will have to make further savings of £40m by the end of the decade.

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