19 January 2019

Councillor’s Corner 18/19 No 15 – Budget Time

Pitmen supporter and HTFCSA committee member Paul Woodhead is a Cannock Chase District Councillor for Hednesford. You will see him around the ground most match days, usually as Pitman Pete and in the Strikers Bar after the game where you can talk to him about any matters or issues of concern.

In these articles I want to bring the role of the councillor alive to you and ensure I am accountable to you as the elected representative for the ward in which the football club resides. I will highlight some of the things I get involved with and the decisions the council makes on your behalf. I will be available after most home games for a general conversation and we can arrange a private discussion should that be appropriate. Alternatively you can contact me by phone on 07930 120077 or by email paul.woodhead@greenparty.org.uk

As we move through January and in to February Councils and Authorities set their budgets and Council Tax Precepts for the year ahead. This is made up of several elements from the County, District and Parish/Town Councils plus an amount from the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Office which covers both Fire and Police.

We already know that the County is cutting more services by over £35 million whilst raising the Council tax by the maximum 6%. The District Council is not planning further large scale cuts and is expected to increase their council tax element by 1.95%, by the less than maximum it is allowed to do. The Fire, Police and Crime Commissioner in his consultation document is planning £4.6 million worth of cuts across the two services and more than doubling the increase imposed last year by close to a 10% increase. The Town and Parish Councils are going through their budgets and this will vary across the area and in some areas where no Parish Council is formed this there will be no precept. Hednesford Town Council have set a budget in excess of the frozen total amount of council tax collected despite there being more homes in the area for administrative reasons.

As a District Councillor I am able to ask the cabinet to review its budget in light of suggestions and alternatives. This works differently to other councils where, if these suggestions are agreed by a vote of all councillors, it is referred back to cabinet for consideration before being brought back for approval (or not). For the first time I will be asking for some minor changes. This does not mean I agree with the cabinet budget but comes from some of the priorities that residents have asked me to advocate on their behalf.

Council funding is still uncertain and in general about 40% lower than in 2010 with major changes still planned to remove central revenue support and change how business rates are distributed.