Annual Governance & Accountability Return 2023-24

Dear Resident,

Please find attached the Annual Governance Statement, Accounting Statements (unaudited) and the Report of Internal Audit, for the year 2023-24 as submitted to the external auditor.

Also see the period of the exercise of public rights & your summary of rights, as published under News on this website.

Kind regards,

Louise – Clerk/RFO

Notice of the period for the exercise of public rights on accounts & governance for the year 2023/24

Dear Resident,

Please note the Notice of the period for the exercise of public rights and a summary of your rights, as published here.

The accounting statement (unaudited) and the annual governance statement for the year 2023-24 are published under News also.

Kind regards,

Louise – Clerk/RFO.

Launch of project, Churchill Forge 2030

Thanks to Sue Fowler as she steps down as Chair of the Parish Council – May 2024

On behalf of the Parish Council and residents of Churchill and Blakedown, I would like to thank Sue Fowler for all the brilliant work she has undertaken during the last number of years as Chair of the Parish Council.  Sue has carried out her role diligently and professionally, spending a significant amount of her own time attending meetings on matters of concern to residents and helping to resolve any issues that have arisen.  A lot of this work is done behind the scenes without praise (or pay!) and we are very lucky to have had the benefit of Sue’s dedication and leadership.

Sue has been a Parish Councillor for many years and has been instrumental in leading on several significant projects including the signal box relocation, preparation of our Neighbourhood Plan and more recently as Chair in the delivery of the free car park and return of the Village Christmas Supper.

Sue will be greatly missed as Chair, however, fortunately for everyone, she will be continuing as a Parish Councillor, most importantly to lead on the update to our Neighbourhood Plan.

Cllr Brian Hession

Chairman

Newsletter to report at year end 23/24

Dear Resident,

This newsletter is the annual report from the chair person during the year 2023/24, Sue Fowler.

It should have been delivered to every household in the Churchill and Blakedown Parish but we hear that some have been missed. Apologies for this, we have been working hard to ensure that all households are covered and will continue to do so into future years.

If you should have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Louise – Clerk to the parish council.

 

Blakedown Village Car Park

The village car park is there for residents and those passing by to enjoy a free short-term parking facility whilst using the local businesses on and around the Birmingham Road.

It is short-term as stated on the 2 signs displayed at both ends of the car park. There are also 2 Instavolt charging stations for use for as long as the electric vehicle requires. The charging spaces are rented from the Parish Council by Instavolt.

We frequently receive reports of poor parking, misuse of disabled and charging spaces and blocked access and make the following response:-

  • We rely on the goodwill of people to use the car park properly and considerately .
  • There is appropriate signage indicating that the car park is for short term use.
  • There are people who will disregard the signage.
  • We have considered introducing parking enforcement but have ruled this out based on financial and administrative cost.
  • The cars parked against the wall are parked on The Avenue which is un-adopted land and so is not within the parish council’s gift to enforce or manage.

Nevertheless, we remain open to exploring ways of improving the situation for all and will keep the matter under review.

Contact the clerk at clerk@churchillandblakedown-pc.gov.uk

Why has the Parish Council tax (Precept) gone up for 2024/25

First, a quick recap. The precept paid to Churchill and Blakedown Parish Council from the overall payments to the District Council is to fund the annual running costs of the villages. In 2023, the amount we received for the year was just over £34,000. A little more than half of that goes on the costs of cutting the grass, emptying the litter bins, powering the street lighting, and maintaining the village ‘furniture’ – the bus shelters, benches, planters, lampposts, two defibrillators, and the VAS signs. Most of the rest meets administrative and governance costs – salary, employment, and office administration costs for the Clerk who as well as looking after the finance and accounts and running the meetings, is also the main point of contact for residents, for external organisations and for contractors carrying out work for the Parish Council.

The accounts for this year (2023/24) won’t be finalised until April 2024 at the earliest, with the external audit being completed later in the year, but projections are that we shall come in just within budget at the end of March, 24. However, we already know that costs for 2024/25 will need to be adjusted for inflation (we’ve budgeted 5%), increases in employment costs (+35% mainly made up of additional employers costs) and to allow for a reduced subsidy from the District Council for the litter bins. In all, based on this year’s spending and known additional costs we shall need an additional £14,000 to keep things going in 2024/25. Spreading the cost over all the 800 or so dwellings in the villages equates to an average of less than 35p more per week per household, or an average of £1.78 for each of the 10 Council Tax instalments paid over the year.

The Parish Council is required to hold financial reserves. Currently standing at around £22,000, these are funds which have gradually been built over the years and which can be used for special projects for the benefit of the villages. We also have other income – Worcestershire County Council fund the costs of our Lengthsman and occasionally we have grants from our County and District Councillors for special events (e.g. the Coronation) or special equipment (VAS signs, village gateways etc.). The Instavolt EV chargers in the Village Car Park will bring us at least £3,000 per year in rent until 2042 – funding the short and long-term maintenance of the Car Park, so that the precept can be used for other running costs. The finances of the Signal Box (whose reconstruction costs were met by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Norman Dawson Trust) are dealt with through the C&B Villages Trust and make no use of precept funding.

To reiterate, the precept funding is used for the day to day running of the village services and it is important that the amount collected covers the annual cost. I hope you find this information helpful, but if you have any queries, my email address is suef@churchillandblakedown-pc.gov.uk, or you can contact Louise at clerk@churchillandblakedown-pc.gov.uk. And of course, you are very welcome to come along to the Parish Council monthly meeting (2nd Tuesday each month except August – details on the website) or to the Annual Parish Meeting, which this year will be held at the Sports Pavilion on 28th May 2024 at 7pm.

Sue Fowler
Chair, Churchill & Blakedown Parish Council 2023/4

Local Nature Recovery Strategy – Consultation to residents, landowners, managers, countryside users and local interest groups.

Dear all,

Please find attached notification regarding a strategy that is under development by Worcestershire County Council. It is a Local Nature Recovery Strategy and is a key part of delivering targets in the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan for England. These strategies are to be implemented across England and meet the requirements by law under the Environment Act 2021.

Your parish council will comment when invited to (expected at February full council meeting) and you are also invited to have your say. I shall keep you updated with when the consultation goes live.

In the meantime, I invite you to read the attached in preparation.

Kind regards,

Clerk to the Council.

Notice of Conclusion of Audit for 2022-2023

Dear Resident,

This parish council duly displays a notice of conclusion of audit for the year 2022-23 together with copies of the AGAR, Sections 1, 2 and 3 for your information.

Kind regards,

Louise Sahota – Clerk and RFO to the parish council.

NORMAN DAWSON TRUST & CHURCHILL BLAKEDOWN PARISH COUNCIL

NORMAN DAWSON TRUST

CHURCHILL BLAKEDOWN PARISH COUNCIL

 Brrrr, It’s Cold Out There…..

The Norman Dawson Trust, concerned at the many pressures we are all facing around inflation, the increasing cost of living, and soaring fuel prices, are sponsoring (through the Parish Council) a series of mini ‘Winter Warmer’ events around the villages during the winter months.  These might be a table games afternoon in the Sports Pavilion, a coffee morning / afternoon (in addition to the excellent Saturday coffee mornings run by the Historical Society) in the Signal Box or at Churchill Village Hall, or even one of Mary MacDiarmid’s super soup lunches – social occasions which offer 3 or 4 hours to meet friends and new people in a warm and hospitable venue.  We’ll also be making information available about efficient heating systems, grants, subsidies etc. – and hopefully will be joined by advisers from the CAB or Social Services.

To start the ball rolling, there’ll be

an afternoon tea in the Sports Pavilion) on Wednesday 21st December from 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm.

BUT (there’s always a ‘but’) – we need your help!  Help running it (making tea and coffee, setting up and clearing up the room, etc.), and help in making sure the right people know about it and are encouraged to come along (with you too, if possible).  We realise that the people who might most benefit from these events are probably not reading this Facebook page – so we’re relying on you to make sure that they hear about it.  If you can help, know someone who would like to come along (we really don’t know at the moment just how many people to expect, or how many people would  really like to take up this opportunity), or can offer other suitable events / venues, please message Sue Fowler, or email on suef@churchillandblakedown-pc.gov.uk.

Watch this space for further dates, venues and event details!