Report for Marchwood Parish Council 14th March 2016
The County Council has set a budget for the year ahead. Broadly, Council tax will rise by about 4%.
The County Council took advantage of the Government exception which permitted them to raise Council tax by up to an additional 2%, without the need to call a referendum, providing the money is used for Adult Social Care.
Officers have told me that they need this increase just to cope with the additional costs involved in paying the living wage for care workers.
It won’t actually increase the budgets for anything else related to adult social care.
HCC remains committed to making further savings of £98 million.
All areas of Council expenditure are coming under scrutiny including Children’s Centres, with a proposal to reduce the number in Hampshire from 54 to 11.
Another example of efforts to reduce costs is the Household Waste Recycling Centres.
The consultation has been delayed, but now starts Wednesday 16th March until midday Wednesday 25th May.
It is likely we will see reduced hours, days open or even complete closure of some HWRC’s. This is not popular with the public. Already, over two thousand people have signed my on-line petition aimed at persuading the council not to close, or part-close, the Marchwood facility.
The website address is www.hants.gov.uk/hwrc2016. Naturally, I encourage everyone to register their thoughts on the value of these facilities.
Some Marchwood residents are going to be affected by the proposed cuts to School bus services.
Basically, HCC is saving money by only providing what it is legally obliged to do across Hampshire.
I understand that those impacted, or likely to be impacted have received letters.
More details, including the consultation on this are available on the Hampshire County Council website, search “Consultations”.
On Wednesday this week, I understand that the Chancellor, as part of his budget speech, is going to announce the formation of a Solent City Combined Authority.
This will involve a newly created role, a Mayor, covering Southampton & Portsmouth and other surrounding authorities. He or she will be given powers, including responsibility for highways.
I don’t know whether Hampshire County Council will be in or out of this new arrangement.
I don’t think the New Forest is joining.
I am pretty much in the dark about exactly what is being agreed behind closed doors, involving talks with Council leaders and Government.
As far as I can see, this isn’t devolution. If anything, it seems to be taking powers away from locally elected Councillors.
I have been offered no detailed information about this deal.
When I asked, I was told I that the parties to the deal are all bound by a confidentiality agreement.
To say I am concerned about what’s happening is an understatement.
I know that I am not alone.
County Councillors of all political persuasion are either in the dark or falling out with one another.
In all honesty, it appears to be one great big rushed shambles and I have genuine fears about what it will mean for this part of Hampshire.
I have asked an Officer at HCC to chase Barker Mill Estates to see if the flooding issue on the Totton to Marchwood / footway & cycle link can be resolved.
It’s still an issue after a heavy spell of rain.
My final grant for this year went to Marchwood Scouts & Guides, as a contribution towards the new building project. I won’t now have any funding until May.
The local highway engineer, Rob Millar, is leaving at the end of this month. I would like to place on record my thanks to him for the many, many years of great service he has delivered.
Marchwood will again be covered by Colin Hibberd and by a new name (to us), Steve Moreno.