Council cuts £51,000 in grant funding to High Peak parish councils

High Peak Borough Council is cutting £51,000 in grant funding to parish councils across the borough due to a “black hole” in its finances.

By Ben McVay
Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 4:45 pm

The borough council took the decision after the Government axed its Revenue Support Grant funding - which it passes down to smaller councils across High Peak.

Parish councils use the funding primarily for the upkeep of children’s play parks and grounds maintenance.

Since the news was announced several parish councillors have condemned the move.

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Councillor David Lomax, right, with High Peak Liberal Democrats president Barrie Taylor in 2013

Councillor David Lomax, who represents Whaley Bridge on the borough council, described how it was the “central areas of High Peak which seem to miss out all the time”.

He said: “We see the amount of money being spent on buildings in Buxton and Glossop and all the money which will be coming from the Future High Streets Fund.

“Yet they cut the grant to the central areas.”

Whaley Bridge handed over responsibility for its play parks to the borough during local government reorganisation in the 1970s - meaning the loss would be easier to bear.

However Councillor Lomax says parish councils such as Chapel-en-le-Frith and New Mills would feel it much more keenly.

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He said: “It’s a big source of income – worth as much as £30,000 in New Mills – and residents in those areas will end up paying for their own play parks as well in Buxton and Glossop.

“It’s going to mean precepts going up for most parish councils.”

Speaking about Whaley Bridge Coun Lomax said the cut would mean a loss of about £10,000 - which would have been spent on street decorations such as hanging baskets.

He said: “A lot of people come to the canal basin and we want to make it an attractive place - high streets are struggling so this won’t help.”

Nigel Gourlay, of Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council, which stands to lose over £9,000 for the upkeep of play parks, said: “To govern is to choose and High Peak Borough Council has chosen to cut a grant which parish councils use to provide play equipment for children.”

A spokesman for High Peak Borough Council told how during the last eight years the Government had gradually removed its Revenue Support Grant from the council’s funding – culminating in its total removal in 2019-20.

However the authority had continued to pay the £51,316.69 to the 15 eligible parish and town councils during that time.

Councillor Alan Barrow, executive member for Finance and Corporate Services, said: "This funding was initially introduced as a specific grant from Government. However, since then, along with over a million pounds of other government funding, this particular funding has been cut from the council.

"As part of keeping the council's finances in good order, our medium-term financial plan includes a review of this funding with a proposal to reduce it over the next three years.

"The council will continue to pay over £200,000 a year to support our parishes and may be able to increase that funding to mitigate the impact of this change, but when funding is reduced from Government there is an impact."

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