'Disgrace': Council's parish cash cutback under attack by villages
PARISH residents will have to pay more toward the running of leisure centres and grass-cutting to help make up for a £422,500 reduction in Gedling Borough Council's budget.
Previously, the council set aside £75,000 "parish aid" to be shared by places such as Ravenshead and Burton Joyce to help pay for the services.
But councillors have agreed to axe the money– and replace it with a £25,000 "community fund" – leaving parish councils to pick up the rest of the tab.
The Labour-run borough council had said the community fund would be £100,000 – but instead, cabinet members agreed to introduce it at just £25,000 at a meeting last week.
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Ravenshead Parish Council chairman Joe Lonergan said it was "a disgrace".
He added: "The council doesn't want to support the villages. The party in power takes the view that the important voters live in the urban areas and so deprive the villages in the interest of the towns."
His council received £36,000 annually before the first round of cuts last year .
Subsequently, the parish council put up its precept by almost £7 per month for a Band D property and last night approved plans to increase this by a further £8 to a monthly contribution of around £44.
Mr Lonergan said: "Residents in the villages are paying their council tax, but not getting anything for it, apart from having their dustbins emptied."
Linby Parish Council chairman Bob Brothwell said the reduced community fund was "a way of ensuring that no money goes into the parishes" and Chris Hutt, chairman of Burton Joyce Parish Council, said: "The community fund will be no good for us because the way I understand it is you have to bid for specific projects and most of our costs are constant, rather than one-offs."
Details of who can apply for a share of the community fund have yet to be finalised.
The borough council is also looking to make savings in its £12.8 million budget by slashing cash for town twinning by £16,000 to £1,000. It has pledged to deliver a £1.1 million revamp of Arnold Leisure Centre, as well as work at Gedling Country Park. It is also giving £10,000 to the voluntary sector to deliver housing debt advice.
Councillor John Clarke, leader of the authority, said: "We can't spend money we haven't got. When we were elected to run Gedling Borough Council, we promised that we would manage budgets responsibly.
"It has been well documented that this Conservative-Lib Dem government has significantly cut our budget, meaning some £6 million needs to be found over the next few years. This has dealt a huge blow to the finances of Gedling Borough Council – we're now in a position where we are looking carefully at our expenditure across the board and balancing it to achieve the best outcomes for everyone in the borough."