I notice from recent reports in the local press that Sefton MBCs' Political Parties appear to be jockeying for the position of making the lowest claim on our pockets through Council Tax. Why do they concentrate on 'cuts and savings'? Is it because they believe their Party interests are the overriding factor and voters will choose the cheapest option? In other words their political self-interests come before the community. Is this the only way they think?
This is not the sort of debate I approve of, I want to know what our local needs are; for example, is the population aging and by what sort of figure, are the number of children in school going up or down, these factors should determine a budget. Or on a more immediate point what do we know of local demands and needs, for instance, the huge increase in waiting list for allotments in Formby is another example of changing circumstances.
I want to hear the Political Parties addressing a wide range of issues in detail, I want to know what their priorities are, where they would spend more and where they would spend less. In other words I want a carefully conducted debate about the issues and needs in our local communities. I want to hear alternative constructive proposals on how to meet those needs as they change year on year. I don't want to be treated as a fool simply faced with a choice as to which is the 'cheapest option'.
I for one will be arguing that next year at the Parish Council level we should introduce 'participatory budgeting', where we involve the public in helping to determine the precept. It's your money, you are best placed to decide what the local priorities should be, what to spend money on.
And to answer your question, the precept is the sum of money that a Parish Council agrees to add to your basic Council Tax bill, in common with other statutory agencies. Last year Formby residents shared a total of around £35,000 to meet the budgetary needs of the Parish Council, approximately £3.50 per household per year. I will write on another occasion about that expenditure.