Rebuilding the High Street Cemetery wall

The impact on the parish council tax

Potterspury Parish Council has for many years been responsible for the maintenance of the High Street Cemetery. In June 2020 a section of the cemetery wall began to bulge and it ultimately collapsed in November 2020. After commissioning a structural survey, obtaining an outline design, and going out to tender, the Council commissioned the specialists Underwood & Weston to repair the wall. The cost of the rebuilding project was approximately £20,000. The wall is now complete and we have received many compliments about the standard of the work. It now has modern foundations with traditional lime motor masonry and looks able to last for many decades.

To fund this work the Parish Council tried to access grant funding, but ultimately had to resort to its own resources as none were available. We looked at the feasibility of spreading the financial burden through a government-backed loan scheme, but this would have meant delay in getting the work done and a very long pay-back period. There were also clear indications that the public were prepared to see the work funded directly through their Council Tax.

A break down of the parish council budget 2022-23. The parish council clerk is the only paid member of staff, who is assisted by the elected (and volunteer) councillors.

The Parish Council has therefore paid for the worked directly by using its reserves. Although the Parish Council’s reserves remain above that required by financial regulation, it needs to maintain them at a sufficient level to deal with any unexpected problems. Therefore, we need to replenish our reserves but must do it in a way that is affordable for those paying Council Tax.

The plan adopted by the Council is to replenish its reserves over two years. Over this period the Parish Council proportion of the Council Tax will be higher than usual but we anticipate that it will return to more normal levels in 2024. This coming year 2022/23 the Parish Council part of the Council Tax will increase from £78.20 per year to £92.80 per Band D property. 1

The Council has worked hard to reduce costs in other areas and without the wall rebuilding project the Parish Council’s portion of the Council Tax would actually have gone down to £75.95.

1 We quote the cost for Band D properties because this is the government standard when referring to average costs across council tax. It gives residents a rough idea of what they can expect to pay depending on the banding of their property.