The Woolpit Parish Council is a corporate body with nine seats filled by elected and co-opted residents. Its primary function is to ensure that the Parish is efficiently and economically run using a proportion of the annual Council Tax income, called the Precept. The Council usually meets once a month in the Woolpit Institute to discuss current Parish issues. Additional meetings may be arranged when there is a special matter to discuss or where decisions cannot wait for the next scheduled meeting.
Parish council meetings have resumed face to face in the upper room at the Institute. For the safety of everyone the WPC continues to observe social distancing and masks. To maintain a safe number of people in the room, any member of the public who wishes to attend is asked to contact the clerk (email@example.com) at least 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting.
Please also note that we have changed the date of our regular meetings to the first Tuesday in the month.
On 30th May 2022 Babergh District Council and Mid Suffolk Council adopted the LGA Model Code of Conduct as their new Local Code of Conduct, alongside the other principal authorities across the county.
The Woolpit parish council already had the new code on the agenda for the June meeting when it was duly adopted. The code is recommended for use in all local authorities and by the Suffolk Association of Local Authorities.
You can find a copy of the code at Appendix A - New Model Code of Conduct.pdf (moderngov.co.uk)
This article had been prepared for the April/May edition of Woolpit Diary
One element of your Council Tax bill is the money which comes to the parish council to pay for its work. This is called the Parish Precept. You will find the breakdown of the elements of your Council Tax on the bill. County Council, Adult Social Care, District Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Parish are listed.
You will see that the parish share is the smallest, but you may have noticed a considerable increase for 2022/23. Why was this necessary?
Every January the parish council must inform the district of the precept which it will require for the following year. The figure is not ‘plucked from the air’. A detailed budget of our work was made and debated. We took no pleasure in adding to your financial burdens, but we must balance the books.
We took into account many elements including inflation, increased insurance premiums, wage increases, more parish clerk hours and the need for holding and adding to reserves.
There are more calls on the parish finances to take on responsibilities which would once have been carried out by others. For example, the parish council is now the Trustee of the Woolpit Recreation Ground charity. The charity has little income of its own. The play equipment and MUGA must be repaired and maintained as well as safety checked. You will see works to many of the trees which surround the recreation ground.
We have recently employed a Highway Ranger who will soon take on some of the minor maintenance work previously carried out by the Suffolk County Council Highways department.
Whilst the parish bank account looks healthy at present (because we have been prudent in creating capital reserves for major expenditure) the general moneys for ‘running expenses’ will be zero by the year end and we will have to take funds from the General Reserve to cover a short fall. The recommended sum for a General Reserve is 50% of annual expenditure. We are well below that level at present.
We continue with the schedule of repair, conversion to LED and replacement of streetlights. We have already ordered lighting works, the cost of which has used up the reserve held for this purpose. This reserve must now be added to if we are to complete the work.
The largest reserve is for a burial ground. The Bury Road development includes a site for burial ground so we are probably saved the cost by buying land, but the site is not yet ours and it must be set up and maintained.
The other large element in our accounts is the Community Infrastructure Levy fund of which I wrote in the last edition of the Diary. This money is not for subsidizing the precept.
The district council uses a Band D house as an example of charges to council tax. For Woolpit that is £71.59 for a Band D house. Our precept remains one of the lowest for a community of equivalent size. The Precept for Elmswell is £189,555 (Band D=£113.99), for Thurston £125.480 (Band D =££90.91) and Needham Market £140,739 (Band D=£82.31). As the village grows, new houses will contribute to council tax but at the same time an increased population will add to the burdens of the parish council.
Julia Ewans - Chair Woolpit Parish Council
added to website 17.03.22