At its November meeting, the Parish Council agreed its budget for 2020/21 and set the precept for the year at £99,006 which is an increase on the

previous year. There are a few areas of business where costs have increased significantly and councillors felt that the maintenance of existing standards in the village, for example around cutting of verges and grassed areas, was very important. Additionally the Council has approved further work to explore the potential to make significant improvements to the sports fields, including an option of a full size artificial pitch which can increase the range of sports available (eg hockey) and reduce the postponement of games due to the weather.

The Council has also looked at other projects which it hopes to progress as a result of its developing Council Plan and specifically the expansion of the availability of public access defibrillators to the majority of households in Stocksfield, Broomley and Hindley. An additional £5,000 has been added to the budget in 2020/21 for this purpose. Councils are also required by law to make provision for contingencies and councillors decided to include £5,000 for contingency funds. Whilst the use of reserves was considered, councillors wanted to ensure that reserves are not used for routine operational matters and that existing reserves can continue to grow in the event that the contingency funds are unused.

The findings of the Council’s residents’ survey, which was undertaken in December 2018, were a significant factor in the Council’s decision making. There was widespread support from respondents for the principle of increasing the precept to fund additional work with only 16% being opposed to the idea. Ultimately the yearly payment to the Parish Council from a Band D dwelling in 2020/21 will be £74.24* which is an increase of £9.62 compared to the previous year.

* Based on the County Council’s indicative tax base