Saturday, 14 December 2013

Budget Meeting and The Future of the Skate Park

So Thursday night was the budget meeting for the 2014/15 precept for Bar Hill Parish Council. It was quite a fiery meeting and while it's not the worst news possible it's still very disappointing news for the long term future of the Skate Park (although somewhat better news for it's short-term future).

The short-term issue is that in order to approve the demolition of the Skate Park another meeting of the Parish Council is required. It cannot proceed until another meeting which means the January meeting at the earliest. Just to be clear though; the Skate Park cannot be demolished without another meeting of the Parish Council.

You'll notice that the lights are out at the Skate Park at the moment, and some "do not use" notices will be going up along with (potentially) a fence but that's all that will be happening before the matter is formerly brought up before a Parish Council meeting.

Moving on to the Budget meeting itself. The discussion of the Survey results was probably the most depressing part of the whole meeting for me. Despite the large number of responses to the survey I circulated around the entire village (1800 homes) this was, in my opinion, largely dismissed. Whilst I've seen this level of dismissal before (and come to expect it) when I was serving on Cambridgeshire County Council it's quite a different feeling seeing local Parish Councillors here in Bar Hill dismissing a survey filled out by their neighbours.

My suggestion of the Parish Council doing its own survey was not accepted by other Councillors.

When it came to a vote my request to ear-mark 15k in the budget as part-payment for a new Skate Park (even though, as was stressed by several people, it's only a line in the budget - in order to spend it it would require a further vote of the Council) failed by a very narrow margin; 5 - 7. There was some talk of using reserves to fund it but nothing was agreed. It makes planning significantly more difficult because it introduces an "unknown" (how much money will the Parish Council put forward) into the plans.

Difficult though, not impossible. We are where we are. I'll carry on working for a replacement Skate Park, it's just going to take a bit longer and be a fair amount harder than it could have been. Still nothing worth doing is supposed to be easy is it?

So where to now? I guess that's the real question. Well the first thing is to have a good holiday, I'm going to write some letters to thank the people who completed the survey (whether or not they wanted a new skate park) and then in the new year I'll start looking for grants - hopefully as part of a group set up by the Parish Council. It's possible that creating a charity to look after the Skate Park might be the way forward - something else to look into!

Have a good Christmas everybody, see you in the new year!