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My parish council took out a PWL loan in 2016 which resulted in a large increase to the parish  precept. To continue the project a further PWL loan would be required thus a further  increase to the parish precept will be necessary. A public referendum took place in 2021 in which the public voted in favour of no further increase to the precept involving this new build of a community centre. The project is on hold until such planning issues are resolved and the parish council securing sufficient funding from other sources to continue. My question is the precept allowed to continue or should t be removed?
by (160 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
If the public voted in '21 NOT to support PWL related increase in precept -  was this properly considered in the late '22 (?) budget consideration for FY 23/24?

Your question presumably relates to, is the PWL uplift element of the 23/24 FY precept increase inappropriate?

From what you have written it sounds like it is inappropriate (as it appears to be out with public support) but if your council has approved the 23/24 FY budget and the precept demand which falls from it, then it is probably legitimate - albeit, potentially open to challenge.
by (22.2k points)
edited by
+1 vote
Aaagh Community Centres...the bane of my life...they are usually money pits. It seems to me that the precept is a legally enforceable tax which is set each year by the Parish Council with no upper limit .   As such no matter what the circumstances the decision is rightly or wrongly (but legally) vested with Councillors.  Well that is my non expert opinion , until someone proves me wrong !!
by (5.0k points)
A perpetual money pit rarely able to wipe its own mouth and always dependant upon grants and donations....
In my experience, village halls are the much loved life-blood of a community.  I accept that they rarely/never make money but surely they are more than a cost centre.
John1706 agree entirely but what happens when the costs gets excessive i.e. when do you say enough is enough. We are now in a situation where after a revolt about Councillor management style a mainly resident based board of trustees have taken over.  They  say "look our job is to manage the Centre, your job (PC) is to make good the shortfall". "If you don't well you can have the keys back".  Difficult one .  That is the problem when the provider of the funds has no accountability ie there are no enforceable limits. Incidentally almost all users of these "much loved centres" will  to the man say sorry we cant afford any increased rental fees.
They may well be much loved and life blood, but that is not to excuse the managing trustees (in what ever form that might take) from their fundamental (and - depending upon what form it takes, charitable trust for example, legal) responsibilities for long term sustainability, maintenance and financial viability.

Without, or with sub-optimal, medium to long term strategies, and that really must at least be some attempt or even pretence of financial independence, then they are in any case doomed.
Couldn't agree more.  In terms of VFM I  always apply the test "would I spend it of it was my money"?  As regards the point being made by the OP if the proposed increase in the precept is down to savings held in EMR against a proposed project then I think its still valid.  The problem is what do you do if the project does not go ahead.  I suggest most PCs would vire the unused money to another project rather than return it to the residents in the form of a reduction in the precept.  In many PCs there are no morals and a policy of you can never have too much money applies.

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