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18 November 2017CHRISTMAS COMES TO FISHBURN

Please join us to sing carols as we switch on the Christmas tree lights at

The Village Green

Wednesday, 6th December, 2017

7.00 p.m.

Fishburn Band will be playing a selection of

Christmas carols

Santa Claus

FREE children’s rides from 6.00 p.m.

One FREE burger or hotdog or turkey/pork roast plus one hot or cold drink per person

EVERYONE WELCOME - ADMISSION IS FREE

SUPPORTED BY FISHBURN PARISH COUNCIL AND FISHBURN BAND

17 November 2017BIG REVAMP FOR SPORTS PAVILION

FISHBURN'S sports pavilion will undergo a major revamp as parish councillors gave the go-ahead for an overhaul of the existing building.

Parish councillors have concluded that building a new football facility from scratch is not feasible but the Council wants to begin work on a much-needed refurbishment of its dilapidated changing rooms at Fishburn's football pavilion off Butterwick Road, i.e. a proposed changing facility project, as well as drainage to the football pitches. 

The existing changing rooms will be redesigned and could include four changing rooms; male and female showers/toilets; disabled access; small kitchen; store rooms, and a separate room for officials/referee.

Cllr. Andrew Pearson, Chairman of Fishburn Parish Council, has said: “This is about turning a building which is a bit of an eyesore into something which is going to really benefit the community and improve the sports fields, along with all the other work which is under way."

The Parish Council believes in the power of sport to create cohesive communities, and parish councillors are working in partnership with stakeholders and volunteers to create an improved sports facility. It now depends more upon the grants to fund the project than upon the will to make it happen. It is very important that the people who will benefit most (young people) are involved in the design, development, and delivery of the project, which is more likely to be successful as a result of the energy and strengths that exist within the community.

10 November 2017FUNDING APPROVED: Fishburn Youth & Community Centre

Fishburn Parish Council on Thursday 9th November 2017 resolved unanimously that the sum of £2,720.00 shall be granted to Fishburn Youth & Community Centre to fill the current shortfall and it was further resolved unanimously that matched funding (£1 for £1) shall be awarded to Fishburn Youth & Community Centre up to a maximum sum of £6,000.00 per annum in each financial year 2018/19; 2019/20; and 2020/21, such sum payable as and when funding is raised by the Youth & Community Centre.

09 November 2017NEW STREET NAMES PROPOSED FOR DEVELOPMENT

THE Parish Council approached the applicant and landowner of the proposed new residential development of up to 70 dwelling houses north of Salvin Terrace, who indicated that he would be willing to support street names put forward by the Parish Council provided the reason for the choices and the derivation of the name is acceptable.

It was agreed at the parish council meeting on Thursday 12th October to submit all the street names put forward by Members that reflect local, geographic or historic significance in the area and are compatible with surrounding street names, depending on final site layout.

The first choice was Garmonds, with Street, Road, Close, or View after the name [Gormond the Dane gave rise to the name Garmondsway]. Thinking of the area's mining heritage: Shaft Close, Pony Close, Wheel Close, Pitman Close, Banner Parade, Colliery Close, and Shaftsbury Street. Middleham [an Old English name for 'middle settlement or farm']; Bourne [the village is first recorded in the medieval period when it was known as 'Fissebourne'];  Skerne [the River Skerne forms the southern boundary of the parish; and Adelmo [Adelmo (Arthur) Santi was an Italian ice cream-maker and a self-made man whose great-granddaughter is BBC New Tricks and EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite], all with Street, Road, Close, or View after the name.

03 November 2017FISHBURN YOUTH CLUB

Members of the public attended the meeting of Fishburn Parish Council on 12th October 2017 and submitted 13 written questions relating to Fishburn Youth Club. The Parish Council unanimously agreed to a request for an extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council which was held in the main hall at the Community Centre, Butterwick Road, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday 2nd November 2017, so that members of the public could hear the Council's responses to the questions which had been submitted:

Q1. Were Fishburn Parish Council aware that the Youth Service would close if they choose not to support it? Answer: The Parish Council was informed that it was highly likely that current services would be reduced if sufficient funding was not secured.

Q2. Do Fishburn Parish Council believe that a youth club should be part of the village Answer: Yes; definitely.

Q3. Why has the public not been consulted on this decision? Answer: Councillors are democratically elected as representatives to routinely consider issues and, after hearing all sides of the debate, to exercise their own judgment in making decisions about what should be done on behalf of their whole local community. As part of its commitment to improving the level of public participation, the Council has unanimously agreed to a request to hold an extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council to receive comments from members of the public on this issue.

Q4. Sedgefield council are supporting their youth club which has considerably less kids going, why won't Fishburn continue to support ours? Answer: The Parish Council believes Sedgefield Town Council may have more money available to support a youth club; that the youth club in that parish has been operating for a short time; and that the club has little or no money to support itself.

Q5. As we enter into darker, colder nights, where do councillors suggest or expect kids to go? The parks aren't an option (meaning investment in these is wasted this time of year). Answer: The Parish Council acknowledges the importance of the junior and senior youth club sessions in Fishburn in trying to keep young people off the streets, albeit for a limited number of hours per week.

Q6. Is supporting community assets part of the council's responsibility. Answer: The management committee is responsible for the Youth & Community Centre. The Parish Council owns or has responsibility for several community assets and has a legal duty first and foremost to consider what its own financial responsibilities and commitments are.

Q7. Is the decision not to fund the youth club down to lack of money within the council? If so how much does the council hold in reserves and how much does it spend annually? Answer:  The Council is well aware that it is still facing a period of austerity. The Council's resources are wholly derived from public funds and it has an obligation to ensure that it watches expenditure and provides a cost effective service. Parish councils have no legal powers to hold revenue reserves other than those for reasonable working capital needs or for specifically earmarked purposes. General, i.e. un-earmarked revenue reserves, usually lie within the range of three to twelve months of gross expenditure. The audited accounting statement for financial year ending 31st March 2017 shows the sum of all current and deposit bank accounts and cash holdings held was: £46,004. The total expenditure or payments at the end of the financial year was: £182,854.

Q8. How much does the parish council get from council tax? Answer: The Council's income is wholly derived from a local tax collected by Durham County Council on behalf of the Parish. In 2017/18, the Parish Council requested a precept level of £71,322, an increase of 1.77%  from 2016-17 [plus a local council tax support scheme (LCTS) grant of £10,500 = £81,822]. This money is used to pay to maintain and improve facilities and services for local people, deliver activities and events, and run the Council.

Q9. From [the Treasurer of Fishburn Youth & Community Centre'response to your statement I understand that if the community centre picks up the costs for the youth club the full site is at risk of closing down in two years time, we all know that people at the centre are already working flat out why do the parish council think it is acceptable not to help on an ongoing basis? (In your statement you said that £7k was given to the community centre and £9k from Former County Councillor Lumsden this was for the community centre roof and had  nothing to do with the youth service this was also in 2015 also the money from county councillors is irrelevant in your response because these have nothing to do with parish council funds. Answer: The Parish Council would like to see a funded youth club open and attended, and supported in a long-term, sustainable way.

Q10. How do parish councillors suggest moving forward to enable the youth club to re open? Answer: The Parish Council has agreed to work with the management committee, which owns and has responsibility for the Youth & Community Centre, to ensure a valued community asset can remain on a viable and sustainable footing. The Council will be turning its thoughts - at the ordinary parish council meeting on Thursday 9th November - to setting the Parish Council's budget and precept requirement for the next 2018/19 financial year. It had already decided to consider a proposal from the Youth & Community Centre to increase the precept by £11,688.00 per annum [an increase of 16.38%] for 'community services', namely building maintenance; manager's salary; energy bills, when setting its budget and precept [usually in December/January].

The Council would also draw attention to the continued possibility of the Government extending the capping controls to parish councils from 2018/19 whereby they are required to hold a referendum if they wish to increase council tax by more than a set percentage, often set at 2%. This is something that has been discussed for a number of years now, but not yet enacted. The Government remains concerned about the general level of rises in precepts and the prospect of a limit still exists. If the Council were to increase the precept by 16.38% as suggested, it would be obliged to hold a costly referendum.

Q11. With feedback from the public and points raised above, does Fishburn Parish Council stand by its decision not to fund a youth club? Answer: Yes; the Parish Council stands by its decision not to make a contribution to the on-going funding. The Council was asked for a grant up to £6,611.04 to bridge the gap for the provision of a youth service. It would prefer to see a youth club supported in a more long-term and sustainable way. 

Q12. How do parish councillors show that they are acting in the best interests of the village? Answer: All parish councillors work hard to keep the parish vibrant and volunteer their time and expertise freely for the well-being of their village.

Q13. And lastly the public of Fishburn would like to arrange a parish meeting so that the responses to these questions can be heard by all. Answer: The annual parish meeting must by law take place between 1st March and 1st June. Instead, the Parish Council has agreed to a request to hold an extraordinary meeting as soon as practicable [at 6.30pm on Thursday 2nd November 2017] so that the responses to these questions can be heard by all.

13 October 2017STATEMENT: FISHBURN YOUTH CENTRE

AS part of its commitment to improving the level of public participation in local government, Fishburn Parish Council allocates a maximum of 20 minutes for public participation at the beginning of its meetings when members of the public are invited to speak, and if matters raised are not on the agenda these can be used to form part of the agenda for a future meeting at the discretion of the Council.

Several people attended the meeting of Fishburn Parish Council on Thursday 13th October 2017. The group selected two spokespersons to address the Council and they submitted 13 written questions relating to Fishburn Youth Club, which parish councillors discussed after the public participation period.

The Parish Council's written answers have been sent to the person nominated to speak on behalf of the members of the public who were present. In the meantime, the Council unanimously agreed to their request for an extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council to be held in the main hall at the Community Centre, Butterwick Road, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday 2nd November 2017, so that members of the public can hear the Council's responses to the questions which have been submitted.

18 September 2017FISHBURN YOUTH & COMMUNITY CENTRE

STATEMENT

FISHBURN Youth and Community Centre has announced the closure of youth service, which has generated a range of comments. I wish to thank those residents who have taken the time to make the Parish Council aware of their views on this important issue. Community sites and social media can often be unreliable sources of information, so I hope this short statement helps to clarify the Council's position.

On 14th July 2016, Fishburn Parish Council acknowledged the importance of youth services in Fishburn, following Durham County Council’s withdrawal of funding for youth service provision, and authorised the payment of £10,000.00 to Fishburn Youth and Community Centre 'directly for youth provision'. Only £7,147.56 was paid because some activities were removed.

The Chair of Fishburn’s Youth & Community Centre’s Management Committee asked for an item to be placed on the agenda for the Parish Council to consider a proposal for the Parish Council to increase its precept (the amount of money it requires via Council Tax) by £11,688.00 per annum with effect from the financial year 2018/19 - for community services, namely community centre building maintenance; manager's salary; energy bills, not for youth service.

This meant the Community Centre would pick up the cost of the youth service to mitigate any concerns residents who do not have children might have about funding youth services. The management committee indicated that without any funding the youth service would not continue past September, so there was also a request for a pro-rata (proportional) grant up £6,611.04 to bridge the gap for the provision of a youth service until the next financial year.

The Community Centre benefitted from a £7,000.00 grant from Fishburn Parish Council and a further £9,000.00 grant from the then County Councillor Rachel Lumsdon to make the centre’s roof water tight to ensure security and longevity and other necessary repairs. Michael Parkin, Committee Chairman, said at that time: “We are still very shocked about the generosity of the councillors in agreeing to offer the grants of £16,000.00 towards the replacement and improvements to the centre’s roof. We are also extremely excited about being able to redecorate the hall which is crucial to securing future bookings”.

On Thursday 14th September 2017, parish councillors received a detailed presentation from the Treasurer of Fishburn Youth & Community Centre on the proposal. After careful consideration, it was unanimously resolved [agreed] that the Parish Council shall make no decision on the proposal to increase the precept by £11,688.00 per annum until setting its own budget and precept requirement for the 2018/19 financial year [usually in December/January]. After considering a report on anticipated income and expenditure in sufficient detail to enable the Council to form an opinion about its merits and risks, it was also resolved that the request for a grant up to £6,611.04 to bridge the gap for the provision of a youth service shall be refused. Parish councillors realise this decision may be disappointing for some residents but trust most people will understand that there were good reasons for safeguarding public money.

Members might decide to raise council tax payers' bills to ensure the Community Centre can remain on a viable and sustainable footing in the future, but the harsh reality is that the Parish Council has a duty first and foremost to consider what its own financial needs and statutory commitments will be. As well as maintaining current projects e.g. a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA), and improving them, the Council wants to develop several future projects to improve the village, e.g. the three play areas which require attention, levelling up areas of the cemetery, as well as funding for drainage to the football pitches, and for creating a much-needed new football pavilion. There is also the continued possibility of the Government extending the capping controls to parish councils from 2018/19, often set at 2%.

Councillor Andrew Pearson

Chairman of Fishburn Parish Counci

18th September 2017

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