Craven District Council could keep ‘town council cash’

Craven Herald: Craven District Council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton Craven District Council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton

Government funding intended for parish and town councils could end up being kept by Craven District Council.

The council is currently recommending either halving the grants to parishes or giving none of it at all.

A recommendation was due to be made last Tuesday by the council’s policy committee, but was deferred until this week – following the government’s Autumn Statement – for a decision by the full council.

However, a consultation being carried out by Craven with parish and town councils on what they would do if the grant was to be reduced and eventually removed is not due to end until next Friday, December 20 – ten days after the full council meeting.

The consultation letter to councils says their comments will be summarised and included in a report for members to make their decisions.

The letter asks whether they would cover the shortfall created by a halving and eventual withdrawal of the grant by increasing precepts, using reserves, reducing services or a combination of all three.

At last week’s policy committee meeting, council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton (Cons) told councillors it would be prudent to wait until after the council knew how much in grant funding it would be receiving from central government until it decided how much to “give away”.

He was reminded by Coun Robert Heseltine (Ind) that it should not be “give away” but “hand on”.

Coun Carl Lis (Cons) added it was important that town and parish councils were made aware as soon as possible, as most of them were close to setting their precepts.

Skipton Town Council is one of the councils likely to be unhappy if a decision is made to withdraw or even halve its grant.

Last year, the council received the largest grant in Craven of £47,403; while Bentham Town Council received £7,403 and Glusburn and Cross Hills Parish Council, £6,852. Smaller councils like Draughton received £219 and Martons Both, £130.

The National Association of Local Councils has raised the issues of grant funding with the responsible government minister and has received assurances that the government supported them being passed on and would approach any billing authority that failed to do so.

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