I would like to share with you some information which I presented at the March 2022 council meeting in order to set the record straight following circulation in the parish of certain erroneous statements regarding parish finances.
It has been suggested that the recent very substantial vote of residents in the western part of Boars Hill in favour of joining Sunningwell Parish “would mean even more parish funds being directed away from Sunningwell & Bayworth” whilst elsewhere it has been stated that [a larger parish] “would further divide our communities”.
These allegations are almost the opposite of the truth!
Firstly, they ignore the fact that it was a Sunningwell village councillor who suggested that the western part of Boars Hill might like to consider joining our presently fairly small parish.
Secondly, Sunningwell parish has for generations consisted of the four communities of Bayworth, Sunningwell village, Long Furlong and the eastern part of Boars Hill all of which live amicably together. Of these, the last named comprises about 38% of the parish electorate. However I would say that Sunningwell village is recognised throughout the parish, and beyond, as the “capital” or centre of parish life.
As for “even more parish funds being directed away from Sunningwell and Bayworth”, at best, this only shows the ignorance of the author of this statement.
I have analysed SPC spending over the past five years excluding items of general administration such as the clerk’s salary and audit fees etc which can be said to benefit all communities.
If we then look at expenditure which may be said to be directed largely at a given community, it is quite true that three fairly large sums have been spent primarily for the benefit of Boars Hill. The speed limit reduction to 30mph along Foxcombe Road cost £5 745, the grant to the Friends of Boars Hill to help fight against the Peking University attempt to overturn the green belt was £5 000 and the inter-active speed signs for Boars Hill are costing about £8 600. That makes a total of about £19 345.
So what about the villages of Bayworth and Sunningwell? – which it is claimed are suffering from a diversion of parish funds.
Well, amongst other things, £6 543 was spent on the Bayworth Triangle footpath and £2 500 has been disbursed for a new defibrillator in the village which is in the course of installation and over £500 is spent every year to maintain the Triangle.
Whilst Sunningwell village, our parish “capital”, has in fact done extraordinarily well over the last five years. Net of private donations, £20 494 was spent to purchase and safeguard the village green and some £3 000 is spent each year to maintain the green and its boundary. £41 058 was spent on resurfacing the Sunningwell village car park and over £6 000 on maintaining and de-silting the village pond. Further sums of several thousand pounds each have been spent on such items as village hall repair, flood prevention, grants to SPADE and to maintain the church cemetery as well as various village events and numerous smaller items.
All told, spending in Bayworth and Sunningwell over the last five years has totalled over £121 000 or about 85% of the total! – compared with £19 000 (or 15%) for Boars Hill. Given that Boars Hill voters almost certainly contribute more than 40% of the parish precept income, it can be seen that Bayworth and Sunningwell, far from losing out to Boars Hill, rather benefit greatly from its participation. The substantial vote of confidence given to Sunningwell parish by those Boars Hill residents presently in Wootton parish can only be of benefit to everyone.
And to cap it all, judicious management of parish finances by the unpaid volunteer parish councillors has enabled the council to REDUCE the parish council tax for the new financial year 2022/23 by no less than 25%!
Colin Weyer – Chairman, SPC