A final word, for now, on the draft Council budget, and the proposed abolition of the subsidy to the parish councils, which totals £35,000.
As I've tried to show in previous posts, this is a difficult year for the Council making a balanced budget which protects and enhances services valued by the community. There's been quite a bit of misinformation around that somehow the Council has got into financial trouble (over Pedestrian Heart and the Eatern Transport Corridor, for example) and is now having to take "desperate measures". This is very wide of the mark - rather there have been growth items such as adult services and the Council's contribution to the cost of the new national concessionary bus scheme, for example, which have necessitated a long hard look at all the areas of Council spend.
The grant to the parish councils is discretionary, non-statutory spend. As far as I can see, there is only one other Council in the North East (Derwentside) which makes such a grant.
So it could be argued that the parish grant amounts to special treatment for residents in certain rural wards, denied to those which happen to live in the urban area - in Haughton West, Haughton North, Hummerknott and Mowden, for example, (represented by a medley of Labour and Tory councillors) there is no such support from the Council to residents' groups. Is that fair when residents in the rural area receive exactly the same Council services as those in the rest of the Borough?
Having said all that, this is a matter where the Council is consulting, as it is across the rest of its budget. For the consultation to be meaningful, however, we need to hear in what areas residents would reduce spending if some options are not to be progressed. If you would like to see all the options considered by the Cabinet, you can do so here.