Fears for the future

A group of Selston councillors fear their council may disappear following proposals by Ashfield District Council to scrap its grant funding.

The parish council currently owns and maintains all community buildings and 17 recreation grounds across the parish. But its ability to run community services may soon be abolished.

“The £31,000 grant is paid to Ashfield District Council from central Government to pass onto the parish councils. But Ashfield is proposing not to pay over the money, effectively taking services from Selston Parish Council,” said council chairman Sam Wilson.

“We are looking to pass the recreation grounds over to Ashfield as we won’t be able to afford to maintain them, which will cost the district council more in the long run,”

Ashfield District Council said it needs to make savings of £800k for the 2014/15 financial year in order to balance the budget.

Cllr Chris Baron, council leader, said: “We regret having to make any cuts and would prefer not to be in this situation. The scale of the reduction in Government funding makes some reductions inevitable.

“Councillors have had to consider many areas of discretionary spending and are proposing to cut back on some areas where the council is not legally obliged to spend.

“The cuts to public sector funding nationally have been so significant that the impact is felt not only by county and district councils, but also by parishes.”

Coun Robert Sears-Piccavey, who represents the Underwood ward, said the parish council has built up strong partnerships with groups like the Community Payback Team, allowing it to deliver services cheaper.

He said: “The parish council has worked really hard over the past 18 months working with residents and voluntary groups to maintain the services offered by the parish council.”

The annual grant from Ashfield District Council has allowed Selston Parish Council to keep the same hire rates for more than 30 community groups who use the parish hall and cannot afford higher rates.

But Coun Sears-Piccavey warned: “If we have to increase the charges many of these groups will have to close, which especially affects vulnerable and elderly residents leaving them isolated in their homes.”