East Lindsey District Council’s plans to off-load responsibility for delivering key services to town and parish councils could go down the pan.
That was the warning from members of Woodhall Spa Parish Council
The cash-strapped district council is looking to save £6million over the next four years and is considering devolving control for some services to towns and parishes.
ELDC has produced a ‘Transformation Document’. It outlines more than 40 different services that could come under the banner of towns and parishes .
In Woodhall, councillors say they are open to the idea of taking on more responsibility.
For example, they are keen to take charge of Royal Square from ELDC.
However, parish councillors have rejected any suggestion of taking on the village’s public toilets as part of a deal.
They say they are worried about the financial implications of running and maintaining the well-used loos.
And, they add, it highlights growing scepticism among town and parish councils about ELDC’s proposals.
Smaller councils are worried they will have to hike their share of council tax bills to raise the extra revenue needed to pay for services - like the toilets.
They also claim that, without funding for training and resources, they will struggle,
ELDC leader Craig Leyland attended a meeting of Woodhall Spa Parish Council last week.
He heard parish councillors express a number of concerns.
Parish council chairman David Clarke said ELDC’s financial plight was well documented but said more details about proposed changes were needed.
Coun Clarke said: “What is being proposed so far is very one-sided. They (ELDC) are trying to off-load certain things - but only things that they want us to do - not what we might be interested in doing. We need more discussion, more details.”
Coun Leyland said he took Coun Clarke’s comments ‘on board’ but suggested parish councils in East Lindsey had fewer responsibilities than in other areas of the country.
He admitted the district council had not ‘communicated very well’ regarding proposals to hand over responsibility for footpath lighting
Coun Leyland said ELDC wanted an ‘open and honest’ dialogue’ with all town and parish councils but stressed difficult decisions ‘had to be made’.
He said some towns - notably Louth - and some parish councils - including Woodhall Spa - had been proactive but admitted ELDC still had ‘some way to go’ to get a positive message across.
ELDC has seen its share of Government funding slashed and the system of rate support grant - worth £12m - will end in four years. All district councils have been promised more revenue from business rates but Coun Leyland admitted ELDC was uncertain how much funding it would receive.