Hedge End sets 2015-16 budget

Hedge End 2000 Centre

Hedge End 2000 Centre, home of the Town Council

Hedge End Town Council approved it’s  budget for 2015-16 this evening, with the good news that Council Taxpayers will see another 0% increase on the Parish component of their Council Tax bill.

However the Finance & Admin meeting was far from uneventful, with some rare dissent within the ranks of the Lib Dems…

Cllr Nathan Khan (Lib Dem), who was co-opted to the Town Council in June 2014,  proposed that an extra £21k should be added to the budget for 2015-16, to support the development of a new bus service around the Town.  More planning work was needed, but on the basis of his initial discussions Cllr Khan wanted the £21K to be included in the 2015-16 budget, so that the new service could be introduced as quickly as possible after further discussions in Council/Committee meetings.

Cllr Khan explained that he currently envisaged a service running in a figure of 8 loop around Hedge End on a Thursday & Saturday and proposed that money could be found by scrapping proposals for a drinking fountain on Greta Park,  scrapping proposals for an outdoor table tennis table by the paddling pool and taking £5k each from the Berry Theatre, the Dowds Farm Park improvements and the reserves.

This caused the other Lib Dem Councillors a problem, as in 2014  Hedge End Town Council had cancelled the bus service set up as part of the Town Team project. This service had been introduced using £10k of funding from Central Government,  a spin-off from the prestigious Portas Pilot project.

When speaking about this past failure, Cllr Baynes just stopped herself from using the word ‘disaster’ and corrected it to ‘unsuccessful’, but Cllr Welsh more openly said that the service was a disaster in the sense that nobody used it, rather than a disaster in terms of planning.

Cllr Khan’s proposal was then rejected, by a majority of 4 to 2, with Cllr Day (Independent) seconding Cllr Khan’s proposal.

The alternative proposal, from Cllr Pretty, was to ring-fence £21k of the reserves for this purpose. The discussions could continue in future Finance & Admin meetings and if the project got off the ground the £21k could be drawn upon from reserves. Cllr Khan was not happy with this alternative proposal whilst Cllr Day argued that the Town Council should be more upfront about what it was proposing to spend money on. Cllr Day said that the £21k should be shown in the main budget rather than hidden within the reserves.  In the event, Cllr Pretty’s alternative proposal was approved by a majority of 4 to 2, the voting split exactly the same way as before.

During the debate, the question of funding for Dowds Farm Park was raised, where it was revealed that the £240K of developer contributions for Dowds Farm Park have been used to reduce the size of the loan needed to build the new Groundsmans Store in Hedge End. Cllr Day argued that more money in the reserves should also be ring-fenced, so that it was there when needed for Dowds Farm, whilst Cllr Pretty argued that the Developer Contributions were for the overall good of Hedge End as a whole, not just Dowds Farm Park, and the Groundsmans store was an appropriate use of the money.

Also during the debate,  Cllr Day suggested that funding for the new bus service could be found by cancelling the HETC funding for the PCSO’s.  It is public knowledge that Hedge End’s  Town Councillors have generally been dissatisfied with the level of service provided by the PCSO’s in Hedge End, but the Town Clerk announced that behind the scenes discussions have taken place and he is expecting the level of service to improve.

The Councillors seemed re-assured by that, but when the question of PCSO funding more formally arose on the agenda, Cllr Pretty was heard to say “Oh God!”, indicating the difficulty the Town Council have with this funding.

In the event, Cllr Khan proposed that the payments should be released in 3 monthly instalments, subject to the Town Council receiving an acceptable report from the Police on the activities of the PCSO’s within Hedge End. This proposal was unanimously accepted by the Councillors that were present. PCSO funding will therefore continue for another year, subject to the Town Council being satisfied with the level of service being provided.

The Committee approved a cost of living increase in salaries for its staff, as recommended by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services Pay Award, but also resolved to a tightening of incremental pay rises for its staff..

The main vote on the budget went the same way approved by 4 to 2, with Cllr’s Khan & Day sticking to the concerns that they had expressed previously

The only Councillor to send their apologies this evening, was Cllr House.

Ray Turner

Formerly a Civil-Servant and IT Specialist at ONS, Ray is now semi-retired and spare-time self-employed. He contributes to Eastleigh News on a voluntary basis and is also an administrator for the site. 

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  13 comments for “Hedge End sets 2015-16 budget

  1. Louise Bloom
    January 7, 2015 at 12:01 am

    I’m glad this was at least debated this evening as I know how hard Nathan has worked on this. He has really listened to the residents of Old Hedge End, many of whom are our older residents and therefore feel cut off as there is no decent bus service. I supported the Portas bid when I was Chair of HETC but sadly there just wasn’t enough money to make that work. Surely this could be run as a not-for-profit community public service? I hope it is debated further at Full Council when funding priorities can be fully considered by all the councillors and any public present.
    Unfortunately I won’t be there as I have resigned this evening due to personal circumstances.

    • January 7, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Many thanks for this Louise.

      I personally appreciate that you have mentioned your resignation here. I firmly believe that ALL Cllrs should make some kind of public announcement when they resign and was most disappointed that others didn’t in 2014. This is all that is needed.

      Can I be the first to thank you for all that you have done for Hedge End. My lasting memory of your service will be the Diamond Jubilee party in the Village Hall, a Bank Holiday where I found you very busy in the kitchen wearing a party hat.

      Best wishes for the future.

  2. wavatar
    Eastleigh Xpress
    January 7, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Thanks for the report Ray

    Good to hear that there was a debate with some consideration of alternative budget proposals and the budget did not just go through on the nod, though I suppose , there was little prospect of anything else ever being adopted.

    £240k for a groundsman’s hut seems a tad expensive.

    • January 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

      Thanks Stephen.

      It was a heroic effort from Cllr Khan and refreshing to see this happening in public in Hedge End. We now have a better idea of why the Town Council is lukewarm about supporting a bus service around Hedge End and something to watch over the next few months.

      I was more concerned about the PCSO funding.

      Given that the Police Authority is listed separately on my Council Tax Bill and has it’s own budget, it seems quite wrong that HETC (and other Parishes) are also funding the Police service. It seems to me, as a resident of Hedge End, that we are are being taxed twice for the Police…

      • Sue
        January 7, 2015 at 9:48 am

        I’d be interested to know the reason for the police not funding the PCSOs also? Can any member of the council explain?

        • Keith House
          January 7, 2015 at 11:53 am

          The police fund the vast majority of the cost of PCSOs. Hedge End Town Council, as with all of the local councils in the Borough, ‘top up’ this funding to guarantee PCSO coverage in their area and to get regular report backs from the police.

          • January 7, 2015 at 7:26 pm

            Thanks for the explanation Keith, however I am still of the opinion that this PCSO funding doesn’t look right in the HETC budget.

            When I was in the Civil Service, one of my bosses had a useful little rule of thumb which guided what we did. She called it the ‘Daily Mail’ test.

            The idea was that we should think how the headlines in the Daily Mail would look if they picked up on what we were doing.

            It’s quite a good little test actually.

            I think the double taxation (i.e. Police Authority & Parish) to fund PCSO’s falls foul of that test…

          • January 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm

            The problem is Keith, recent experience is that the top up funding does not guarantee PCSO coverage in Hedge End and HETC gets at best intermittent police reports depending on who is on duty. The available evidence suggests HETC is wasting residents’ money.

            At the same meeting we agreed continued funding for the teenage drop in centre in Lower Northam Rd. We had a total of 27 pages of reports from them. From the police nothing. What do they honestly expect us to conclude from that?

            This is not a criticism of PCSOs themselves. One of them does produce an email newsletter for people who wish to subscribe to it, but it was announced at the meeting that they are going to be redeployed elsewhere. What HETC does not have is accountability from the senior ranks who make deployment decisions and are responsible for fulfilling their obligations under the service level agreement.

            We keep being told that other parishes in Eastleigh have the same concerns as Hedge End. Perhaps it is time for Eastleigh Borough Council to take responsibility for all top up funding

            • January 8, 2015 at 1:20 pm

              I don’t think there should be any top-up funding from either the Borough or the Parishes.

              In the interests of transparency, all funding necessary to run the Police Service, including the PCSO’s, should be raised by the Police Authority.

          • January 15, 2015 at 9:18 pm

            I have made myself a voluntary policeman ! ….

  3. Sue
    January 7, 2015 at 9:52 am

    It seems the buses have been in a steady decline for years :0( I dont drive and I cant begin to explain how difficult that makes life for me. I feel that the car simply doesnt have a long term future? At some point central govt have got to come up with an integrated,fully comprehensive, transport system, not run for profit but as a service to us and to the planet!

    • julia
      January 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Don’t worry Sue soon when all of Keith House’s urbanisation of the area is complete we wont be able to use any motor vehicle at all around the borough due to complete gridlock……problem solved.

      • January 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm

        Many a true word is spoken in jest….

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