Council needs a long term plan


From: Kelvin Hinton

Harold Avenue, Hailsham

Last week Hailsham Town Council met to agree its budget for 2018/19 and to set the parish precept that will be part of the overall council tax.

What started in September as a proposed one per cent increase grew to three per cent in November and last week on the night grew to an increase of over nine per cent .

It is normal practice for an organisation such as the town council to have a stated vision expressed via some form of corporate document, ie a plan or other document that sets out what it wants to achieve. This is lacking in the budget process undertaken this year since the town council has never prepared such a plan.

At the September 2017 meeting of the council’s Finance Committee I made representations about including a public consultation into the budget making process along the lines that other parish/town councils do. I was subsequently advised that this would not be done.

Had the opportunity for some form of public consultation on the emerging draft budget been taken this would have offered some transparency and involvement for the public. It would have been an opportunity for the council to set out its priorities and make its case for the resources sought via the precept.

The absence of a published business/financial plan and no public consultation means that the public are unable to know what the future direction of the council is in terms of its priorities. Making decisions on such matters on a year-on-year basis only in the absence of a longer term plan is not best practice for an organisation/business with a total budget of approximately £1million and for a council that serves what has been and continues to be a growing town.