The New Parish Council has been very busy since being elected in May 2019. The Parish Council now pays for the library bus in the Village, as Somerset County Council said that it was going to cease funding the service and that it would close; the Parish Council also helps support the Friends of Milborne Port Library who run the service.
The Parish Council continues to support the volunteers who look after the Church Yard and Ball Court, both of which are owned by the Parish Council and the wonderful group of volunteers which takes care of the Cemetery on Wheathill Lane. Grants to the value of £9,000 have been given out over the last year to local community organisations; the play parks have had regular safety inspections and almost £1,000 spent on them in maintenance costs alone. The Town Hall has had it electrics upgraded to 2020 standards and the running costs reviewed and reduced.
The Allotments have had nearly £4,000 spent on an upgrade of the water supply while the biggest spend of the year was on the new Village Hall Car Park costing £25,000 for it to be resurfaced (as well as a further cost of £1,500 for the white lines). All of this has been going on alongside the regular work of cutting the grass, emptying the bins and managing the Cemetery.
So, things have been very busy over the last year, but this is just the start. At the Full Council meeting on 7th January, the New Council set out its ambitious programme of works for 2020/21; this involves undertaking eight new projects including the repair of the Ball Court wall, renewing St John’s walkways, repairing and repainting all the benches, installing a public water drinking fountain at Springfield Rec, and replacing any Parish Council owned broken public bins/dog bins.
The Cemetery will have a large planting project with may trees and shrubs being planted and the whole area cleaned up as sadly parts of it seem to have been used as a dumping ground over the years. Gainsborough Play Park will have new fencing and the Planning and Environment Committee are managing a project to bring new play equipment to both the Gainsborough & Springfield Play Parks.
At the same time, the Council will be making available an increased amount of £10,000 in community grants money to support local organisations (scrolll down for more information). All existing contracts with current contractors will be reviewed, a process which has already started, with a view to reducing running costs.
The Parish Office will continue to increase the times that it is open; successful Saturday openings have already been trialled, along with all day Wednesday opening. Further opening times will be offered as soon as it safe to do so.
Of course taking on new projects and services comes at a cost, £10,000 alone in the case of the Library, so it won’t come as a surprise that the Parish Council has had to increase its share of the Council Tax this year to cover all the extra things that it is doing. The increase is £23.10 per year, per band D household – that’s £1.93 per month.