Ward committee, team and budgets
New Arrangements - Cllr Cannon outlined the new arrangements around neighbourhood working, including the Ward committee, Ward team and Ward budgets. Such arrangements have been designed to empower local residents and to support Ward members in identifying, developing and delivering on local priorities. There is also some budgetary devolvement to Wards for allocation to local priorities.
Ward Budget - The Ward budget for 2015/16 is as follows:
Pride in York Fund £12,621 *
General Ward Budget £9,466
Community Care Fund £4,733
(these three elements make up the total ward budget of £26,820)
Pride in York Fund (One-Off) £29,180
Highways Programme £15,776
(*reduced pro rata to £6,311 for the remainder of 2015/16)
General Ward Budget - Community groups will be welcome to submit applications for grants under the General Ward Budget.
Ward Highway Programme Budget – the Ward Highway Programme Budget is in addition to the highways services already provided by the Council and enables residents to identify schemes that cover things like the resurfacing of footpaths, cycle paths and public rights of way and improvements to existing street lamps. The Council will publish a list of highways schemes in November that will be funded from the main council budget in 2016/17. The Ward Highways Programme Budget can be carried forward to fund a more significant scheme if this is deemed appropriate.
Cllr Crisp informed the meeting that councillors would be offered training in December regarding the process for the new Highways Budget arrangements.
Ground Maintenance – Wards are being asked to identify priorities for future expenditure. Cllr Cannon referred to the consultation information available for residents to put forward their views at this meeting. Cllr Crisp informed the meeting that the Ward Team has been provided with a list of grounds maintenance tasks. She confirmed that these had been split into two sections: those which can only be completed by the Council due to health and safety implications, eg. operating machinery or working with hazardous chemicals, and those which could be picked up within the Ward, perhaps through volunteering.
Councillor Cannon outlined how the ward committee can engage with residents to help it establish ward priorities that will influence how ward budgets are spent. Councillors are working towards gaining a better understanding of the important issues in the ward through consulting with residents through their ward survey and activities at the ward committee meeting. They hope to announce their ward priorities at the next ward committee which is likely to take place in December. This will enable them to decide how to spend the budgets. She also confirmed that the ward will be expected to save around 20% of the Grounds Maintenance budget.
AGREED: Kristina Davey will circulate the Grounds Maintenance Budget information to residents that have provided their email address so that they can feed back their views to councillors.
At this point a number of questions were raised by residents who also gave their feedback about the recent survey into what the budget should be spent on.
Q- Priorities seem very ‘black and white’, it feels like we have to be willing to sacrifice many important issues in order to prioritise one?
A- Councillor Cannon responded by saying that at the moment the ward should focus on ‘bigger picture’ issues.
Q - Residents raised concerns that if volunteers feel as though the jobs that they are helping with have come down from government they will resent it and it will become increasingly difficult to find willing volunteers.
It was suggested that there was a fine line between encouraging voluntary work and abusing it.
A - Councillor Derbyshire explained that if volunteering numbers fell then that specific job would go into the council pot.
Q- As main roads run through the area which other people use, will the council take responsibility for them?
Q- Are there options to use part of one budget on issues that fall within another budget?
A- There is a principle for what the budgets are used for. There will also be a shift from the council doing everything to locals helping with voluntary work due to reductions in the council’s budget.
Q- Are you in a position to receive applications prior to the end of the financial year?
A- Cllr Crisp responded by informing the meeting that some applications have been agreed because they were seasonally dependent. First we must agree on what is necessary through establishing ward priorities and then we can plan how to divide the budget. The best time for people to apply for grants will be from December onwards once we agree our ward priorities.