Information regarding your Council Tax

From the Parish Clerk

Our Rate Demands have arrived this week and you may have noticed that the Etchingham Parish Council share is shown as £76,000 – this is incorrect and is actually last year’s figure which Rother District Council has acknowledged is their mistake and for which they apologise. The increase from that figure to the actual one of £82,000 is correctly shown as just over 11%. The following is an article written by EPC Chairman Cllr John Barnes, that will appear in the next Parish Magazine but seems an appropriate way to explain how, having managed without an increase at all last year, EPC has been forced to take this action for the forthcoming year.

Paulette Barton

The Background to the forthcoming 2024-2025 Rates for Etchingham Parish

After managing to reduce our precept (the total amount the Parish Council asks Rother District Council to collect on its behalf) last year,  the Parish Council had hoped to keep any increase to a bare minimum. While this increase only amounts to £1.65 per month at Band D, it is more than your council had hoped to request as, at a time when prices are going up generally, it realises only too well that every pound counts – your councillors pay rates too.

Unfortunately, the Parish Council has been blown off course by a quite unexpected event. Part of the terrace behind the shop and one of its neighbours has become detached and the Environment Agency thinks it likely that it will topple into the River Dudwell. The Environment Agency has therefore required the two properties concerned to complete the necessary repairs to a specification that satisfies them. The process of establishing how that is best done and commissioning the necessary work is well advanced. We are indeed fortunate to have a skilled engineer as our Vice Chairman to progress this highly technical matter.

However, not only does that mean that we have been unable to proceed with the sale of the shop premises, but there has been a considerable impact on our 2024/25 budget. The finances had already had to weather the loss of income from the shop premises, which is why we were on the brink of a successful sale. It now has to deal with a double whammy. The repayment of principal and interest on the loan which financed the original purchase of the shop will have to continue and provision has to be made for a further loan to finance our share of the repair work to the river wall.

Better news, but again at a cost, came with the news that the County Council had agreed to meet half of the cost of the work identified by TESAG to improve the safety of our roads. However, that has meant we have had to set aside £3,500 to service the necessary loan to meet our share of the cost should the work begin in the 2024-2025 financial year.

While the new play equipment in the Queen’s Gardens has already been paid for and is fully guaranteed, we shall need to start making provision against the time when the equipment in the Viper Playpark comes to the end of its life and of course pay for general maintenance of both these areas.

Inflation has meant that we have to be mindful across all our other budget headings especially as our 5-year insurance contract is in its final year with an inevitable but as yet undetermined rise in cost to come at its renewal.

Fortunately, however, major work to the trees on village owned (public) land is unlikely to be necessary as a result of the work done in the last few years on the recommendations of the arboreal expert who was commissioned to make a full report on all such areas in 2021. We will probably look to repeat this very worthwhile exercise in 2026 – this sort of inspection regime is also a good way to keep insurance costs down.

The details of the approved budget are on the website and the Clerk/Responsible Finance Officer (or one of your councillors) will be happy to answer any questions. We have had to make provision for an expenditure of £82,000 this year, but if savings can be made as the year progresses – this is always in the back of our minds – we can begin the process of rebuilding the reserves against future capital expenditure sooner rather than later.

Cllr John Barnes

Chairman, Etchingham Parish Council