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Turin Machine
post Nov 3 2015, 03:50 PM
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http://info.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=31554
We may all as well go live in a cave! This is pretty poor stuff, from a modern so called caring society.
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Cognosco
post Nov 3 2015, 04:36 PM
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QUOTE (Turin Machine @ Nov 3 2015, 03:50 PM) *
http://info.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=31554
We may all as well go live in a cave! This is pretty poor stuff, from a modern so called caring society.


I notice the smelly stuff always runs downhill! The Government makes cuts to Local Authorities grants and states it will now be the responsibility of the Local Authority to make provision for cost if they still wish to supply certain services.
Local Authority follow suit and state it will be the responsibility of Parish Councils to provide funds if they wish to retain supply of certain services!

I see roads maintenance is to be cut, WBC must already have the worst maintained roads in the South of England regarding potholes and ice clearance, the cost of having a couple of contractors going around and shoveling in a bit of tarmac and patting it down with the back of a shovel, which seems the norm, and then repeating next week must be exorbitant? rolleyes.gif


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On the edge
post Nov 3 2015, 07:17 PM
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Totally agree, this cascade of responsibility is grossly irresponsible. If we can't afford to do something, we can't afford it, period.


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user23
post Nov 3 2015, 07:54 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ Nov 3 2015, 08:17 PM) *
Totally agree, this cascade of responsibility is grossly irresponsible. If we can't afford to do something, we can't afford it, period.
I disagree. Communities can afford this by raising the precept for their parish, if it's something they want to do in their area.
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spartacus
post Nov 3 2015, 08:22 PM
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This is the bit where "Hooray!! They haven't put Council Tax up!" becomes "Hang on.... what do you mean we have no money to pay for these essential items"
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On the edge
post Nov 3 2015, 08:55 PM
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QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 3 2015, 07:54 PM) *
I disagree. Communities can afford this by raising the precept for their parish, if it's something they want to do in their area.


West Berkshire is a unitary council, therefore West Berkshire IS the community.


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user23
post Nov 3 2015, 09:05 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ Nov 3 2015, 09:55 PM) *
West Berkshire is a unitary council, therefore West Berkshire IS the community.
There are 60 or so parishes that make up the community of West Berkshire.

But you must know that, so I don't know quite where you're going with this.
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spartacus
post Nov 3 2015, 10:10 PM
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QUOTE (Cognosco @ Nov 3 2015, 04:36 PM) *
I see roads maintenance is to be cut, WBC must already have the worst maintained roads in the South of England regarding potholes and ice clearance.......

I think every driver in England thinks their own particular patch is the 'worst maintained in Britain'. You may think that WBC roads are the worst but statistics from DfT prove otherwise. You think you have it, bad try visiting <insert other Council area> and you'd be surprised how much worse it can get....
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Simon Kirby
post Nov 3 2015, 10:15 PM
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WBC are looking to the parish councils to increase their precept and provide the missing services but Newbury Town Council are hopeless bumbling amateurs who would struggle to organise a church jumble sale so the best NTC could do would be to increase their precept and just hand the money straight over to WBC who are generally speaking a professional outfit and much better able to deliver social services. In fact it really rather demonstrates how pointless the Town Council already is because for the £1,000,000 of tax that the Town Council currently collects it does little more than manages a grounds maintenance contract to cut the grass in a couple of the local parks and WBC already has a department that could do that with little extra effort. Of course if we lost Newbury Town Council we'd also lose the ceremonial mayor but I'm pretty sure any fool could dress up in a fox-fur robe and tricorn hat so we'd hardly be losing anything.

The question then is whether to lose WBC services or pay more tax, and that rather depends on which services exactly are to be dropped.



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spartacus
post Nov 3 2015, 10:29 PM
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Looking at the list of areas to be cut you do wonder why, in the age of austerity, money was ever available for some of these services in the first place.

"Feel Good Fortnight" £10,000 spent over two weeks on "various activities that occur during the launch event, such as Chefs Challenge and performers including choirs and dancers."

"Smoking Cessation Service - 'Smoke Free Life' " The current contribution made by the council to this service is £311,000 annually. That's a lot to be spending on a dirty habit that is a personal choice and over which so many awareness campaigns are already in place regarding the health risks, that people who do smoke must know what they're doing so only have themselves to blame.

"Oral Health Promotion" £24,000 spent on something that should be the responsibility of parents

"Healthy Eating in Children" £15,000 spent on a 'Phunky Food' programme and a Healthy Eating co-ordinator. Again, a parent's responsibility

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On the edge
post Nov 3 2015, 10:35 PM
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QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 3 2015, 09:05 PM) *
There are 60 or so parishes that make up the community of West Berkshire.

But you must know that, so I don't know quite where you're going with this.

QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 3 2015, 09:05 PM) *
There are 60 or so parishes that make up the community of West Berkshire.

But you must know that, so I don't know quite where you're going with this.


Quite simply the parish councils have a different role. They are not, and were never intended to be 'mini district councils'. Passing over services on such an ad hoc basis would create role conflict, cause confusion and increase costs, both first and ongoing. Arguably, if the Parish level council could take over the services due to be cut, then there is no reason why they shouldn't take over all the others as well. For instance, NTC covers the area of the previous Newbury Borough; which was thought sufficiently competent to run a wide range of services etc. In effect, you'd be re-creating one sixth of a Berkshire County Council by stealth. That's really going to cut costs!

Quite apart from that, the bigger parish councils have not exactly demonstrated competence or financial prudence. Some have even have a paid administrative establishment and an expensive property portfolio.

I for one would therefore argue that far from taking on more work, parish level councils should be looking to slim down too and be subject to similar severe financial constraints. After all, even the other preceptors such as the Police are making much noise about financial cuts, why should a parish council be any different?


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Cognosco
post Nov 3 2015, 10:38 PM
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QUOTE (spartacus @ Nov 3 2015, 10:10 PM) *
I think every driver in England thinks their own particular patch is the 'worst maintained in Britain'. You may think that WBC roads are the worst but statistics from DfT prove otherwise. You think you have it, bad try visiting <insert other Council area> and you'd be surprised how much worse it can get....


DaFt statistics are a bit biased don't you think? rolleyes.gif

Driving into West Berkshire from Hampshire or wiltshire is very noticeable by the state of the roads for instance. I also have been noticing that potholes tend to have to be frequently repaired on a rather more regular basis than other counties I travel through so perhaps a more professional repair would be more cost effective in the final analysis? rolleyes.gif


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Turin Machine
post Nov 3 2015, 11:11 PM
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Err, didn't central dole out millions to West Berks specifically to fix the pot holes? They can't have spent ALL that on truffles and champagne for their meetings! Can they?
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blackdog
post Nov 4 2015, 12:01 AM
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According to this http://info.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=28571 the government grant to WBC this year was £20.7M. For next year it is being cut by £11M. One more year of cuts like this and there won't be any grant left to cut.

Of course, Osborne promised that local councils would get to keel ALL the business rates collected in their area. All b*****ks to keep conference happy I suspect (or to put it another way, he lied) - but it would make WBC financially independent of central government, and far better off than today.
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Cognosco
post Nov 4 2015, 07:33 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ Nov 4 2015, 12:01 AM) *
According to this http://info.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=28571 the government grant to WBC this year was £20.7M. For next year it is being cut by £11M. One more year of cuts like this and there won't be any grant left to cut.

Of course, Osborne promised that local councils would get to keel ALL the business rates collected in their area. All b*****ks to keep conference happy I suspect (or to put it another way, he lied) - but it would make WBC financially independent of central government, and far better off than today.


Might go some way to explain why WBC are not concerned about infrastructure, cram as many houses, shops and houses in to a tight a space as possible, raises the revenue and enlarges the Empire that's number one priority it would seem? rolleyes.gif


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user23
post Nov 4 2015, 08:30 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ Nov 3 2015, 11:35 PM) *
Quite simply the parish councils have a different role. They are not, and were never intended to be 'mini district councils'.
I don't agree with that sort of siloed and "we've always done it like that" thinking.

Communities have an opportunity to re-shape the way services are delivered to them, or not if they don't require them, through their parish council.
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On the edge
post Nov 4 2015, 08:47 PM
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QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 4 2015, 08:30 PM) *
I don't agree with that sort of siloed and "we've always done it like that" thinking.

Communities have an opportunity to re-shape the way services are delivered to them, or not if they don't require them, through their parish council.


How right you are; outdated 'mustn't make any change' thought process is EXACTLY why we have the mess we are in today! Moving tasks between councils is just the same as re arranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Why is that even being considered....well, actually I do know, its just the usual Adult / Child relationship our Council insists on having with its voters. 'No darling, Daddy can't afford it....why not ask Mummy?'.

As to reshaping our service delivery, oh yes, lets bring it on, and quickly, but nothing like the failed past models eh?

Lets face it, when the Unitary (by the way that means one) Authority was set up, there was no reason why the whole area couldn't have been 'parished'. That would have made so much more sense. i.e. the Town Wards are big enough and distinct enough to be standalone parishes on their own. We would then have had a properly common immediately local advisory body for every area; not just some. But no, we had to retain the defunct 'Town' as a pretend administrative area. I suppose that fits with the pretend County of Berkshire though.

Do you know of any other organisation that rationalises its organisation and still keeps the redundant units for 'ceremonial' purposes? No wonder local government has a name for 'we've always done it that way' and 'not invented here'.

There is, of course, another niggling issue, quite minor I'm sure, in transferring work to Parishes. That's the first cost in effecting the transfer. In local government that don't come cheap; it took a year of legal wrangling and effort simply for NTC to take a lease on Victoria Park.


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user23
post Nov 4 2015, 08:53 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ Nov 4 2015, 09:47 PM) *
How right you are; outdated 'mustn't make any change' thought process is EXACTLY why we have the mess we are in today! Moving tasks between councils is just the same as re arranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Why is that even being considered....well, actually I do know, its just the usual Adult / Child relationship our Council insists on having with its voters. 'No darling, Daddy can't afford it....why not ask Mummy?'.

As to reshaping our service delivery, oh yes, lets bring it on, and quickly, but nothing like the failed past models eh?

Lets face it, when the Unitary (by the way that means one) Authority was set up, there was no reason why the whole area couldn't have been 'parished'. That would have made so much more sense. i.e. the Town Wards are big enough and distinct enough to be standalone parishes on their own. We would then have had a properly common immediately local advisory body for every area; not just some. But no, we had to retain the defunct 'Town' as a pretend administrative area. I suppose that fits with the pretend County of Berkshire though.

Do you know of any other organisation that rationalises its organisation and still keeps the redundant units for 'ceremonial' purposes? No wonder local government has a name for 'we've always done it that way' and 'not invented here'.

There is, of course, another niggling issue, quite minor I'm sure, in transferring work to Parishes. That's the first cost in effecting the transfer. In local government that don't come cheap; it took a year of legal wrangling and effort simply for NTC to take a lease on Victoria Park.
Your political campaign against Newbury Town Council might be clouding your judgement on this.
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Cognosco
post Nov 4 2015, 09:50 PM
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QUOTE (user23 @ Nov 4 2015, 08:53 PM) *
Your political campaign against Newbury Town Council might be clouding your judgement on this.


Or it could be the case that your strait jacketed and WBC blinkered outlook may be limiting your vision of the situation? rolleyes.gif


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user23
post Nov 4 2015, 10:28 PM
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QUOTE (Cognosco @ Nov 4 2015, 10:50 PM) *
Or it could be the case that your strait jacketed and WBC blinkered outlook may be limiting your vision of the situation? rolleyes.gif
Perhaps you could describe to me why you think my suggestion to OTE about letting communities decide the services they need for themselves is "strait jacketed and blinkered"?
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