Cash-strapped parishes demand Whitehall grant

This Is Wiltshire: Wroughton councillor Wayne Crabb is concerned that money meant for Wroughton Parish Council is being held by Swindon Council Wroughton councillor Wayne Crabb is concerned that money meant for Wroughton Parish Council is being held by Swindon Council

HOPES are high that parish councils will soon receive 100 per cent of funds which have been given to them by central government.

Swindon Council was the only local authority in England in 2013 to not pass on a grant from the Government, despite it being recommended to hand it over to parish councils.

The cash was made available following Government changes, which meant people receiving council tax benefits were no longer included in the council tax base.

The effect meant some parish councils had to increase their precepts in 2013, with Wroughton having to do so by five per cent.

But Coun Wayne Crabbe, (Con, Wroughton and Wichelstowe) said, following discussions between fellow ward councillors and the cabinet member for finance, Coun Russell Holland (Con, St Margaret & South Marston), he is confident the money will soon all be given out to parishes.

He said: “We are hoping to see movement on this issue very soon, even within the next month.

“Coun Holland has been very receptive and listened to what we have to say and understands the importance of the money.

“We are going for one final push and hope to have good news for residents very shortly.”

Council Leader David Renard said the full amount of money is likely to be handed over but added: “It is part of the budget that will be recommended to the cabinet and then the full council. “I cannot say 100 per cent at this stage as it has to be voted on by full council but that is what is being put forward.”

Coun Crabbe said the money will mean parishes do not have to put up their precept.

He said: “The extra £75,000 would go such a long way. Parish Councils are responsible for cutting grass and providing local amenities.

“It’s not just Wroughton but all the parish councils would benefit. About a third of the town’s population live in the parish and town councils and the £160,000 is such a small drop to the borough council.

“My worry is that if the money doesn’t come then parishes will have to raise their precepts meaning a greater cost to residents but I think that will be avoided.”

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