Hawkwell Parish Council is financially paralysed by its Parks

May 20, 2007 by  

Council Tax : Matter of Concern Number 2, Residents Survey – Hawkwell West 2007

Having served on Hawkwell Parish Council from 2003 to 2007, I wish to bring out into the open, my personal, but well qualified opinion of the situation this Council is in.

I found this period incredibly frustrating because at the beginning of my term I was asked to put my ideas forward a plan for a range of projects that could be taken forward over both the short term (3 years), medium term and long term (10 years) periods. I put 33 projects forward which would have benefitted all age groups in Hawkwell.  None were taken forward in my term of office.

Very few ideas were even looked at.

A very significant proportion of its funding, all paid by council tax residents of Hawkwell, is spent on a administration comprising of a Council Clerk and an Assistant to the Council Clerk.  Another tranche of wages was spent on a contracted handyman and also a groundsman for the three parks that it has taken over from Rochford District Council. In addition because the maintenance and parks improvement programme required significant regular expenditure on large plant and machinery there was little remaining budget for new projects.

The parks have been superbly improved.  But……… what cost? 

The replacement of the plant and machinery means that each year significant sums of money are needed to be transferred to reserves.  So the council tax goes up and there is nothing more to show for it.

So the Parish Council has to apply for external funding for any new projects.

It is my opinion that the strategy of not outsourcing both the wages and capital costs of the Parks is a major mistake.  It has financially paralysed Hawkwell Parish Council.  It is a “one trick horse”.

Rochford District Council must be eternally grateful because it can spend it’s relieved budget on other things.

Hawkwell Parish Council now needs to outsource its groundsman and plant and machinery to other Parish Councils to justify its position as a maintenance contractor of parks and open spaces !!  This is ridiculous because RDC outsources its own maintenace contracts because it is financially cheaper than employ staff and purchase plant and machinery.

Hawkwell Parish Council is unique because I know of no other local authority in Essex in this position and it does not work to the advantage of the council tax payers of Hawkwell.  

I do not expect the position to change unless three firebrands fill the vacancies.

In the meantime, if you hear of new Hawkwell Parish Council projects then be prepared to see rises in your council tax.




One Response to “Hawkwell Parish Council is financially paralysed by its Parks”
  1. admin says:

    I have been asked to provide some further detail.

    Here is the link to the Hawkwell Parish Council’s 2007/8 Budget from its own Web Site


    You can see from this that Administration accounts for 50% of the Total Budget.

    Administration, which I understand in large part relates to the Parks, added to the specific Parks Budget, accounts for 76% of the Total Budget.

    Which leaves very little to spend on any new projects because, mostly, the remainder of the Budget is already allocated.

    Your number 2 main concern from the Residents Survey 2007 in Hawkwell West was Council Tax. Parks was number 10 !!

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