Town council intends to provide more services and initiatives

Date: Tuesday 4th April 2017

Sir, I am responding to the article headed “Penrith residents being charged twice for council services?” (Herald, 25th March).

Eden councillor Mike Eyles is quoted as stating that “the residents of Penrith are getting the same services”. This is incorrect.

The town council’s budget for 2017-18 includes less than £5,000 for the additional cost of devolved services, which is less than two per cent. of the total precept.

The vast majority of the budget is to provide a range of new services and initiatives for the people of Penrith. These include the development of statutory planning policy in the form of a Penrith neighbourhood plan, and a five-year plan that identifies the council’s priorities and includes funding of £15,000 towards the Castle Park development group and a £2,500 contribution towards play equipment at Fairhill, an events program of £29,000, £8,000 for Penrith in Bloom, £4,000 to support various “greening” initiatives and £10,000 towards Christmas lights and events.

In 2017-18 the town council has increased its contribution towards sponsorship grants for Penrith groups and organisations that need financial support for projects and for resources that benefit the community of Penrith.

Robin Howse counsels the town council to be “very wary of what they agree to take on from the district”. I can assure Mr. Howse, and everyone else, that the town council is going through a detailed due diligence process for each service or asset proposed for transfer.

The result of this process is then reported publicly to a full meeting of the town council where councillors decide whether or not to accept the assets or services on the basis they are offered.

John Lynch is quoted as saying the town council is “profligate and has got nothing for the council tax rise”. I was a little surprised at Mr. Lynch’s comments. He is a town councillor and a member of the council’s finance committee. He appears to be unaware of the detail on which the town council’s budget is based.

The 2017-18 budget reflects the council’s intentions to provide a range of additional services and initiatives. Yours etc,

DAVID WHIPP

(Chairman, Penrith Town Council)

St. Andrew’s Place,

Penrith.