Parish Council Update February 2020

Dear Parishioner,

Please take the time to read this letter from your Parish Council as it contains important information about the Parish Council precept and the exciting developments we are pursuing for you, as parishioners of Whittington, as our community grows.

Background

Only a few years ago, the main population in Whittington parish comprised the ‘village’, (truncated by the M5) and a few houses in St Peters; this totalled under 200 households, plus businesses, the Swan Public House, St Phillip’s Church, the school and the Village Hall.

Recently, significant change has arrived in the form of new households in Wildmore and Whittington Walk, the cumulative effect of which will be to quadruple the parish population and change its demographic profile radically.

The Parish Council has embraced these changes as an opportunity to breathe new life and vigour into the community.

The Hall

The existing ‘village’ hall occupies an ex-RAF wartime concrete building donated to the village in the 1950s, and placed upon land purchased from Spetchley Estates for this purpose. This building has given sterling service, but since the 1990s it has become apparent that the building has deteriorated beyond repair. The Parish Council and the Village Hall Management Committee have, for over 20 years, been saving money towards a replacement building and there have been several schemes for a rebuild, all of which have failed due to funding problems.

However, last year, the Parish Council was awarded a substantial grant from Wychavon District Council towards a new hall for the parish on the existing site. We also intend to bid for additional funding to create a garden / patio area adjoining the hall to complement the activities held there.

The Parish Council have decided that a Community Hall to service the whole parish is a key future facility and are committed to providing a new building capable of hosting many activities including community events, classes for many interests, private events including parties and wedding receptions, hire for business meetings and many other types of function.

Plans are well advanced, with planning permission granted, design completed and tenders currently being received, with the intention of beginning demolition of the existing building in March, and completion prior to Christmas this year.

There is still a shortfall in funding, and the only way to help enable the new hall is the use of a long–term, low interest ‘Public Works Loan’, drawn from the annual parish precept, (figures below). It is likely that extra fundraising will be required to complete the whole project.

We are proposing to call the new hall ‘Whittington Community Hall’ to reflect the fact that it is for everyone in the parish. There is a Facebook page for the hall, at ‘Whittington Community Hall’, and a page on our website.

Smartwater

Smartwater is a manufactured liquid which contains a unique DNA profile linked to your house (once you register). It is a proven deterrent to burglars and assists in the recovery of stolen items once marked with the liquid. The West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner is currently promoting a scheme offering Smartwater kits and signage to Parish Councils at a substantial discount. We have decided to enter into the scheme for the whole parish, whereby we purchase the kits and offer them free of charge to all households. This will require a small rise in the precept, far less than the cost of the kits to individuals, and will result in increased security for all who use the kits.

Allotments

Whittington Parish Council own and operate 15 allotments on the Wildmore Estate (Uffnells Farm). The yearly leases (£60 per annum) are renewed in April and we are anticipating at least one vacancy, as such we are keen to hear from parishioners who would like to be placed on the waiting list. Please contact the Clerk, David Hunter-Miller.

Website

We have a new website: www.whittingtonparishcouncil.co.uk. Please visit and subscribe for news and updates, plus dates, agendas and minutes of meetings – all of which are open to the public. We would love to see you! We also have a Facebook page: @whittingtonpc

The Precept

The mechanism for setting the ‘parish precept’ (a small part of the overall council tax amount), involves the Parish Council setting its yearly budget, which is then divided by the number of households in the parish. Until this year, the budget has remained fairly static, whilst the number of households has steadily increased, effectively reducing the precept. Currently, Wychavon has one of the lowest precepts in the country and Whittington one of the lowest in Wychavon.

As you are aware, council tax demands show the percentage increase rather than monetary amounts and the increased 2020 parish budget will result in an estimated increase of over 90%. This is why we have chosen to write to every household in the parish. We estimate that the actual precept per year for a ‘Band D’ property will rise from around £25 in 2019/20, to £49 in 2020/21. To put this in perspective, the national average last year was £67. We would highlight that as the number of households in the parish increases the precept will fall; once Whittington Walk is fully occupied, that could result in a reduction of between 20% and 30%.

For these reasons, we think that the adoption of a Public Works Loan to enable a new Community Hall to be built to serve our expanding community is a good investment. Without it, we will be left with a building and land that will require the spending of a huge sum of money to render it suitable for any other purpose. As the land was originally acquired for the parish for the purpose of a hall only, a new hall is the only viable option for us.

Thank you for your time. We hope you will subscribe to the website, join the Facebook pages, consider attending meetings or get in touch with ideas to help bring our new community together.

Thank you,
Whittington Parish Council

2 thoughts on “Parish Council Update February 2020”

  1. We now have increased traffic along Pershore Road, due to the opening of the new railway station. Drivers still ignore the 40mph speed limit. Can the illuminated signs be made working again please, and perhaps more of them and more prominent. The 40mph limit now goes from the motorway to beyond the station and is not being adhered to.
    Also, at the bus-stop on Pershore Road before the M5 roundabout, there is a Parking sign so lorries and all sorts stop in the bus lay-by wrongly – the parking sign is for the parking place over the roundabout. Perhaps the ‘P’ sign should be moved away from the bus-stop toward the roundabout and the distance to the parking place amended?????

    Reply

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