by SIMON BROWN

Wittily named “Broader News” was set up to counter “Border News”, the now defunct propaganda organ of Border Group Parish Council.

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To “Have Your Say” go to the bottom of this page. All comments will be published, if legal.

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Parish council

From the budget for 2018/19 it can be seen that the total amount to be spent by BGPC on actually doing things, that is footpath maintenance and the lengthsman’s work, amounts to £6,850, but the total cost to us will be a projected £15,270, of which the greatest single expenditures after footpaths and the legthsman will be £610 on subscriptions and setting aside £700 for election costs. In other words, it costs we tax payers a whopping £8,420 to spend £6,850 on constructive activities! That works out at £1.22 to spend £1. A charity working on this cost basis would be shut down.

This is NOT a sustainable policy.

15Jan18

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If farmers want the public to pay subsidies for “countryside stewardship” after Brexit they will have to do a lot better than this!

All these pictures were taken on Stonewall Hill on 13Jan18. Stonewall Hill farmers hang your heads in shame.

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Bale wrap and haylage black plastic dumped outside a gate.

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More of the same and an empty container of agricultural sterilising fluid.

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Our verges are not loading ramps for idle farmers who can’t be bothered to open a gate to get at the massive pile of unsightly black plastic.

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The lane that many say is wide enough to accept even more heavy traffic for the Hodnet proposal planning application P174246/F

We picked up a car load of black plastic from Stonewall Hill in less than an hour! Disgusting.

13Jan18

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Why we do not need BGPC to expand its activities

You should have received a leaflet about raising the parish council tax, known as the precept and collected via your council tax for redistribution to the parish. If you have not seen the leaflet you can see it here.

Personally, I think the leaflet is misleading. Road maintenance will not cease if we do away with the Lengthsman scheme: it can be carried out by those better equipped to do it, namely the Highways Authority through its contractor, and, cushion or no cushion, a doubling of the precept in a few years time for an inept parish council to control is not a good idea.

I am very much opposed to parish councils taking on more responsibilities. In general, and as frequently demonstrated on CPALC (google it), the rival organisation to HALC and NALC, parish councils are badly run and pay little attention to the fundamentals of accountability, transparency and openness. Councillors do not train and are not familiar with the rules and regulations under which they must operate. For example, we have had two complaints of failure to declare interests by BGP Councillors upheld by the Monitoring Officer but absolutely nothing was done about those failures. Not so long ago £963 was illegally spent on the destruction of a privately owned hedge, a decision taken without consultation and between council meetings by many still serving on BGPC, and, again, about which nothing was done even though BGPC’s own Standing Orders required expenditure of over £50 to be agreed by the council at a council meeting. Standards have only slightly improved since that incident.

Another reason to be circumspect about BGPC taking on more responsibilities is the gross and dangerous over representation of the farming and the land owning sectors. This has led to the failure to call those sectors to account for their own responsibilities such as mud clearance from roads, proper maintenance of public footpaths and their duty to clear riparian ditches, costs for the latter two responsibilities now being an unjustified expense on the the public purse.

The bunker mentality and closed minds of the BGPC have resulted in the council ignoring good advice on several occasions. A prime example was the refusal of the NDP Steering Group to accept that the NDP was not ready for Reg.14 in June 2016. Another example is the refusal to accept the advice of the insurers that taking on road maintenance is not a good idea.

Another major objection to BGPC taking on more responsibilities is that all these functions are actually county council responsibilities. Why duplicate at parish level managed by amateurs and with the attendant costs? I repeat, the two main functions being considered are footpaths and road surfaces. The former is, in law, entirely the responsibility of the landowner, who may claim 25% of some of the costs from the Highways Dept., and the latter is better managed by the county contractor. We do not need to pay for an extra administration to spend footpath moneys sent from the county council, known as P3, when all that is needed is for landowners to honour their responsibilities and claim their 25% directly from the Highways Dept.

I can see no merit in expensive, badly run, badly trained, inexperienced, non representative, antidemocratic parish councils taking on any more responsibilities and would rather see them abolished, an idea being actively promoted by those outside the bubble of HALC and parish councils.

13Jan18

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