Some questions were raised in responses to the recent consultation on the Parish office. The Parish Council said they would be answered

Residents comments regarding the Parish Office

Comment Response
I feel this is a significant expense for the village and do not fully understand the necessity from the information provided  

As outlined at both the meeting and in the consultation notification it is felt that a Parish Council Office will benefit the community as it will provide a clear place of business for staff and councillorss alike. This will be extremely important as the community grows  While the initial outlay seems significant, the life of the Portakabin is 60 years, which equates to a cost of £500 per annum (Including Fixtures and Fittings.  

Is this the most sensible solution and all other alternatives have been explored I would support.  

All alternatives proved to be more costly.

I work for the county council where funding is extremely tight for adult and children services. I therefore believe this to be a frivolous spend and do not agree with your business case.  

While the Parish Council appreciates the cuts in various services, including adult and child due to under budgeting/overspending by the county council, there is little we can do.  The precept funds granted to the Parish Council are earmarked for the benefit of the community, such as; lighting, management of green spaces, allotments, etc.  However, we do support the youth of the community through grants to the playing field, youth club, and Old School Hall.

Waste of money  

With the development of Harpole, it is felt there is a need for a more defined structure in which to conduct business for the Parish and provide a safe place to speak to employees about performance, etc.  Presently meetings with various organisations/developers are haphazardly arranged at the pub or councillors homes, which is unacceptable.  We currently employ two staff who work at different locations, we believe it will be beneficial to both them and the community alike that they are local and available to provide help and support.  Additionally, as the Parish grows the number of staff employed will also grow, therefore it makes sense to have an office available as part of the growth planning.

Without knowing more information on who runs the bowls club I.e. if it is the village or council why a £35 per hour charge.  

The land on which the bowls club is situated is owned by the Parish and rent is received.  However the actual building is owned by the bowls club and they charge £35 an hour for the hire of the bar area, which again isn’t an appropriate venue to carry out business or provide office facilities.

How many hours is the office going to be occupied?  

The expectation is that the office will initially be opened for a minimum of four half-days per week where the clerk or executive planning officer will be on site.  Additional time will be reserved for various meetings by councillors.

Far to expensive  

As previously stated this was the cheapest option.  The total outlay will be £30,300 and if divided by the life of the Portakabin the monthly cost will be in the region of £42 per month.  Additionally, given its mobile state its use and situation the office can easily be changed to allow it to be used in another capacity.  For example, a storage unit, and Staff location to be used in the management of open spaces and the proposed country park which will fall under our remit.

Spend it on filling pot holes.  

While the Parish Council interacts with Highways in the endeavour to get roads and footpaths in the Parish fixed, we are not responsible for the completion of the work and precept funds are not earmarked for this activity.  Residents can report issues via  fixmystreet.com 

We have managed without a dedicated office until now.  Also, a Portakabin is hardly a secure building for the storage of documents.  

More like struggled without a dedicated office.  However, the Parish will grow considerably over the coming years, work is due to start next year.  It would be foolish not to plan ahead and have a venue where we can easily display plans, not only of the developments but also of proposed enhancements such as a Community Centre for residents to review and make suggestions.  Additionally as previously outlined staffing levels will grow and it is advantageous to plan ahead for this happening.

A Portakabin is not fireproof.  

No building is totally fireproof, however, there will be a fireproof safe included in the fittings.  Additionally, it should be noted that at present documents are stored in homes of councillors which is not acceptable. 

Why not revamp Harpole School Swimming Pool so the children can learn to swim.  

This has been investigated previously and the cost of such a revamp would be far beyond the resources of the Parish Council.  There would also be considerable ongoing running costs that would be the responsibility of the school which has no budget for this.

Why not use ‘Scarecrow’ money raised for the village.  

The Scarecrow committee, although supported by the Parish Council, sets out to raise money for various organisations and good causes within the village.  Without prior notification that monies raised by the Scarecrow festival would be used by the Parish Council for this purpose, it would not be deemed an appropriate use of the funds.