An update explaining your Council Tax bill

In Penyffordd we have been receiving our Council Tax bills for the coming year, which have included an increase of 6.7% from Flintshire County Council and a 24.8% increase from Penyffordd Community Council.

 How your Council Tax bill is distributed

How your Council Tax bill is distributed

A number of residents have expressed anger and concern at the scale of the increase, particularly from Penyffordd Community Council and the lack of communication.

How the Penyffordd 'precept' compares

Next month we will publish a full report on the activities and investments made by the Community Council on behalf of the village over the last year as well as an insight into the plans for the coming year.

Firstly, here is a short explanation about the role of the Community Council. It is the bottom tier of democracy, with some local powers. We have 13 volunteer community councillors, all elected or co-opted onto the Council. The Community Council directly employ two people part-time – our Council Clerk and a Streetscene Operative. The Community Council meets once a month on the second Wednesday at 6:30pm and the public are welcome to attend and ask questions.

The Community Council are responsible for the management and maintenance of street lighting (not all of them), children’s play areas (not all of them), bus stops (though we have not paid for the replacement bus stops recently installed), public bins, salt bins, Christmas lighting, the clock, the noticeboards, the website. The Community Council are a statutory consultee for Welsh Government and Flintshire County Council on a number of areas which could affect our village, including planning.

The Community Council also supports a summer play scheme for children, and pays grants annually to a wide range of village clubs and groups serving our community.

The Community Council receives no funding from government or the local authority, it has to raise funds through an annual ‘precept’, which is collected from each household as part of the Council Tax bill.

Here is a short explanation of the reasons for the increase this year:

This is how Council tax compares by band - the bands are calculated nationally on house valuation

Firstly, while the percentage increase appears excessive, the actual numbers equate to less than £10 per household increase for the year for most residents. We know that every penny counts and that household budgets are stretched – the decision was not taken lightly, it was debated at length by the Community Council and voted in with two abstentions.

Despite rising costs, last year there was no increase in the precept for our community due to a large tax rebate. This year an increase was necessary, these are the reasons:

1.     Costs have risen for many of the services we have to pay for.

2.     Flintshire have or may remove or reduce funding of some of the things we need and in order to maintain services we have to pay for them ourselves (e.g. Gardening Maintenance, play leadership and Community Transport).

3.     There are new costs which we have not previously had to pay for or which are exceptional, notably:
- Members Allowance. Welsh Government have mandated that an expenses allowance of £150 per councillor be budgeted. No one on Penyffordd Community Council currently claims expenses and no one on the Community Council has indicated that they intend to take this in the coming year. Funds not taken will be retained for the benefit of the community.
- Streetlighting. We are paying to replace our old streetlights with more energy efficient LED lights.
- Engagement of an external Data Officer due to changes in data protection regulations (GDPR).

4.     Some things have been reduced in the budget:
- electricity charges are lower following an agreement with FCC
- election charges are lower because there was no election needed for the Ward
- Litter bins budget reduced because there is no equipment need this year

The largest single impact on the budget is our Community Transport bus service. This service runs three times a day, Monday to Friday, between Penyffordd and Buckley, via Dobshill. It was introduced as an initiative from FCC to ensure that residents are connected with our nearest town and doctors surgery. We don’t yet know the future of the service or who will pay for it but we have been advised to assume that it would need to be jointly funded by Penyffordd and Buckley. If we didn’t allow for that extra cost then the service would stop. In light of the continued reduction in commercial bus services we would not want to lose a Community service before it had time to become established.

You can view the whole Penyffordd Community budget for 2018/19 here (The budget will be scrutinised by the Internal and External Auditor to ensure we are only asking for what the budget states.):

We would hope that members of our community would agree that the extra few pounds needed for the coming year are worthwhile for the upkeep of our village (the playgrounds, hedges and grass, bus stops, street lighting etc.) as well as the contributions to our many successful organisations that make this such a vibrant and successful community.

Flintshire County Council have themselves issued this statement with regard to their budget:

http://www.flintshire.gov.uk/en/Resident/Council-and-Democracy/Budget-position-201819-and-beyond.aspx

More information about Council Tax on Flintshire's website

More information is available about the Community Council on the website www.penyfforddcommunity.org and via our dedicated Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter Accounts (@lovepenyffordd)

 

Alan Wight