At the last Full Council meeting the figures of all the Parish Councils Tax rate were available. If we look at Band D then they work out as follows:
Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish £27.76
Randwick Parish £28.99
ie just over 50p a week for Band D
Stroud District Council £183.44
Gloucestershire County Council £1,065.94
Gloucestershire Police £193.99
Looking at the differences between Parish and Town Councils it is clear that both Randwick and Whiteshill and Ruscombe are near the lower middle in terms of expenditure - 23 Councils spend less and 28 spend more - however the 28 spending more include the larger Parish/Town Councils so in terms of expenditure our two Parishes are low. Take for example Nympsfield £53.08, Rodborough £35.38 and Bisley £50.25. Then of course you have Stroud Town at £88.66 and top spenders locally, Wotton and Berkeley both £102 odd and nearly 4 times our expenditure.
Now I am not for a moment advocating increasing the tax just for the sake of it - especially in the current climate - too many people have serious concerns - the real problem lies in our democratic system that gives so few powers to local Councils - we are the most centralised 'democracy' in the western world - the other flaw lies in our failure of the tax system that does not redistribute as fairly as some other countries like Norway.
It is clear local expenditure can enhance and enrich local communities. Already our Parishes spend wisely in my view on improving our area but are there other opportunities?
Take for example Randwick's £3,000 every year for a long time put into the Village Hall - that local commitment helped the Village Hall committee bring in considerable extra funding to develop the hall - see Stan Giles' speech re hall here and the measures taken here to make it the country's first carbon neutral village hall. Yes it was lots of work but this is just the sort of thing that can make such community facilities sustainable in the long term and encourage householders to take similar measures. Kirkburton Parish in Huddersfield has done some similar stuff and is committing I think £10,000 each year to energy efficiency and microgeneration.
Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish put in the orchard in the Playing Field and are hopefully improving facilities there like the installation of the basketball hoop - plus they are investigating a small area just outside the Parish to see if it would be suitable for Parish allotments. There is lots more that Parishes could be doing and supporting - councillors already listen lots but they also need to hear from their communities - both the local Parishes communicate through the local newsletters and have held consultation meetings and encourage parishioners to take issues to them in the first 10 mins of a Parish Council meeting.
Indeed many of the Parish councillors are busy folk indeed who are giving up time each week for the community. If you have ideas about how our area can be improved do please get in touch. How would you see money spent locally?
For more about the role of Councils see: