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To think the parish council shouldn't be able to do this?

(58 Posts)
GothDetective Wed 26-Mar-14 23:01:22

I reckon there's something dodgy about our village parish council and not sure if this is misappropriation of funds/tax or something?

I live in a village about 3000 people, same old blokes have been on the council for over 20 years.

About two years ago the village sports bar was struggling financially and was going to close. It was a members only bar linked to the sports association. The parish council took over the running of it.

I guess they have to pay rent, they certainly have to pay staff. It has a full time cook, a bar manager and several bar staff. The bar continues to lose money hand over fist. They pay for bands to come on when no one is interested so more wasted money. They've refurbished it, relaunched it several times.

I just feel our council tax is propping it up.

Also is it normal for a village this size to have a full time, salaried "village manager". And two full time groundsmen employed by the parish council?

wheresthelight Wed 26-Mar-14 23:12:44

I didn't think parish councils have anything to do with councik tax?!

Littlefish Wed 26-Mar-14 23:16:14

I think that Parish councils receive a "precept" which is a proportion of the council tax which they use for things like lighting, grit boxes, maintenance of hedgerows/common areas etc.

In our village, which I think is a similar size, we have a lengthsman who maintains all the common areas, verges, hedgerows etc, but that's it as far as I know.

Go along to a Parish Council meeting. Also, write to the parish council clerk and ask to see a copy of the budget so you can see exactly how the precept is being spent.

steppemum Wed 26-Mar-14 23:16:51

parish council doesn't get council tax.

Their accounts are public record, and you should be able to see them, and so see where the money comes from.
It may be that there are funds from somewhere else paying for the manager and groundsmen etc. It does all seem a bit odd.

GothDetective Wed 26-Mar-14 23:17:18

They do. A percentage of my council tax is for the parish council. We get a breakdown every year. The parish council part is a significant proportion, the highest in the county as well. Plus it goes up by more than inflation every year even though the rest of it has remained the same for the last couple of years.

steppemum Wed 26-Mar-14 23:17:46

whoops, sorry x-post with littlefish, didn't know about the precept

GothDetective Wed 26-Mar-14 23:18:54

I didnt realise the accounts could be requested. Thanks, will do that.

Will it have to be a Freedom of Information request?

cozietoesie Wed 26-Mar-14 23:20:38

I think they do actually - don't they receive a disbursement from the support grant? (In some cases pennies but in some cases substantial amounts.)

Why not ask to see details of the accounts, OP?

cozietoesie Wed 26-Mar-14 23:22:25

Sorry - x posts.

I'd just write and ask them.

NoodleOodle Wed 26-Mar-14 23:23:56

Could you make suggestions for bands/theatre productions that the locals would like to see? Suggest it gets hired out to groups like Weight Watchers, Zumba, U3A, Scouts and Girl Guides for some income?

A sustainable village bar sounds better than a Wetherspoons to me...

MadAsASnakeNana Wed 26-Mar-14 23:24:31

Your PC should have an Information Policy and all their accounts/budget/expenditure etc., must be available to their parishioners. PCs are funded through a "precept" which is a percentage of your council tax. If you have difficulties in obtaining any information, complain to the Monitoring Officer at your District Council.

TiredFeet Wed 26-Mar-14 23:28:00

Yanbu about the pub and on the face of it this doesn't seem right, although there may be a reasonable explanation if you dig deeper
The groundsmen etc is pretty normal though.

GothDetective Wed 26-Mar-14 23:28:17

They've got Ww, Zumba, slimming world, dance classes in the hall attached to the bar already. They've tried different bands and people don't turn up.

I know the bar is still losing money as they're now saying it may have to close soon.

Is there anyone I can complain to about the money which has been lost on this?

County council?

MadAsASnakeNana Wed 26-Mar-14 23:30:45

Goth - you complain to the Monitoring Officer at your local district council.

GothDetective Wed 26-Mar-14 23:34:54

Right, have just googled and found their 2012 finances. It would be halfway through this year they took over the bar.

Its all very broad though.

£140,000 income from the precept.
£214,000 income from other

Staff wages £135,000!
Loan £4,000
Other payments £196,000

Total cash £110,000
Assets, £1,051,948
Borrowings, £68,000

Are they allowed to put nearly 200k down as "other"?

starfishmummy Wed 26-Mar-14 23:37:34

I don't think it needs to be a foi request. Many parish councils publish their minutes and accounts on line. There ja also usually an annual Parish meeting where they let the parishioners know what is going on/answer questions etc. In addition you can go along to their meetings. And of course any vacancies on the councils should be advertised and elections held ..

GothDetective Wed 26-Mar-14 23:39:51

Lived here 14 years and never known an election or a vacancy. Don't think anyone's died yet!

If I ask them for the info they'll just give me the level of information in my previous post. They're not the most approachable people and I suspect will go loopy if I ask for more detail and do everything possible to not give it.

BiscuitMillionaire Wed 26-Mar-14 23:48:06

Go to the local paper? They would be interested if there's some financial mismanagement going on, I would think.

ADishBestEatenCold Wed 26-Mar-14 23:57:21

What is the Village Manager's role?

The Groundsmen presumably look after the sports facilities, linked to the village Sports Association that you mentioned the Bar being linked to. Yes?
What sports and what sort of grounds and facilities do they have (for the Groundsmen to look after)? Big enough for two full time Groundsmen?

Are the sports facilities Private Members Only and if so what are the Membership Fees? Or are they open to the public and if so at what charge?

It certainly all does sound, perhaps not fraudulent, but certainly as if a chosen few are enjoying the fruits of the Council Tax payer's labour.

You can, I think, ask to examine the audited accounts.

ADishBestEatenCold Thu 27-Mar-14 00:06:30

This might be useful

and this one is from Cumbria, but presumably legislation applies to other areas

LessMissAbs Thu 27-Mar-14 00:42:37

Sounds great! I'd say the Village Manager is doing rather a good job. Better than having one of those empty villages with no community spirit.

Have you thought that it might be that someone is using their own money to fund this? I know quite a few older people who use their own funds to prop up their local teams and clubs, but don't like anyone to know about it.

cozietoesie Thu 27-Mar-14 05:37:49

It's also entirely possible that they're receiving a swodge of charitable income eg left to 'the parish' in peoples' wills etc.

I think I'd be wanting to see the detailed accounts because it all sounds rather too much like an Old Boys' Club when there are those sorts of money on the table.

meditrina Thu 27-Mar-14 05:52:27

I think the activities of Parish Council are under-scrutinised and it is a pity that people don't get more involved (as a good one can make a real difference).

Is it because people just don't realise that it is a layer of local government (name reflecting historical geographic limits)?

(The bodies that deal with church matters being the Parochial Church Council, and entirely separate).

OP: hope you get to the bottom of the spending by yours. It can be harder in villages, especially if dealing with residents whose families have been there forever.

SoulJacker Thu 27-Mar-14 06:51:22

Parish elections are normally once every four years, usually done at the same time as district elections.

SoulJacker Thu 27-Mar-14 06:52:29

That's only when they have more candidates than positions of course

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