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The parish strikes back

Posted on March 20 2013 at 10:14:35

Parish councils across The Village area have been alarmed by remarks emanating from Bromsgrove political leaders calling for their abolition.

The proposals attributed to district Tory leader Roger Hollingworth and Labour leader Peter McDonald say parish councils don’t give value for money.

According to Coun Hollingworth: “There is the odd thing they do where people benefit, but over all I don’t think they are value for money – most of the funding goes on administration.”

Coun McDonald described parish councils as “a luxury that divides the district, because those without parishes pay less council tax – it’s discrimination.”

Alvechurch Parish Council chairman John Cypher told colleagues at their monthly meeting: “It has caused considerable furore around the place.

“It might be viewed as a message from Roger Hollingworth to parish councils in general and to us in particular.”

Coun Hollingworth is a district councillor for Alvechurch Ward and a former chairman of Alvechurch Parish Council.

Coun Cypher added: “I wrote to him yesterday asking if he had any particular message to put to us as his home parish council, qualifying or not what was attributed to him in the article.”

As The Village went to press, Coun Cypher had not received a reply.

The parish council heard that while Bromsgrove councillors were complaining about parishes increasing the amount they ask from taxpayers (the precept), the district council had failed to inform them in time that they were due an £8,500 Government grant that could have been used to keep the precept the same as last year or even to reduce it.

“Bromsgrove District Council didn’t inform parish councils and didn’t include it in the precept calculations,” Coun Cypher explained.

“Then they use the money spent by parish councils to bash parish councils.”

He added: “Secretary of State Mr Pickles, speaking in November, went so far as to say, ‘I can’t have enough parish councils, I want more parish councils, it is essential to democracy’.

“So there is an interesting variance between the leaders of Bromsgrove District Council and what the Government is saying.”

Coun Adrian Smith said: “I think parishioners get very good value from Alvechurch Parish Council.

“I think it is a bit of a cheek when Roger has been chairman of Alvechurch Parish Council.”

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