21st Sep, 2020

Sharing Government crisis cash with parish and town councils rejected by Stratford District Council leader

Ian Hughes 11th May, 2020 Updated: 11th May, 2020

A SUGGESTION Stratford District Council (SDC) should share Government Covid 19 funding with parish and town councils has been rejected.

Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick urged principal authorities , such as the district council, to discuss the funding with parish councils where parishes were performing Covid-related services.

But Tony Jefferson, leader of Conservative controlled SDC, in a letter to all town and parish council clerks, said it applied only to councils in financial distress.

He wrote: “Far be it from me to point out that parish councils have no restrictions on the

precept they can raise so why should any be in “financial distress.”

He went on to explain the financial impact of the pandemic on the district council.

“The total estimated cost of the emergency to SDC is over £8million, in terms of additional expenditure but, more significantly, lost income. To date the Government funding for the council has been £1.34million, leaving a shortfall of approximately £7million.

“I sincerely hope that further Government financial assistance will be made available to the

council but there is no certainty over this.

“As a result the Council has insufficient funds to meet its own requirements and cannot consider

providing grants from the £1.34million received.

It prompted criticism from opposition Liberal Democrats on SDC.

Lib Dem leader Susan Juned said: “A number of our town and parish councils have been doing

very valuable work supporting the community during the pandemic and this has cost some of them money for which they had not budgeted. The precepts for this year have been set which mean that it would be 2021 before they can raise funds through that method.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the parishes and towns have had funding rejected without even being able to have their case heard. I hope very much that Coun Jefferson will reconsider and at least look at their

claims.

He should also be making the case to central Government, on their behalf, explaining how local government actually works and arguing for a much better settlement of the costs to local government and communities of dealing with the impacts of Covid-19. This is not a time for ‘divide and

rule’ tactics’.”

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