Posted by Eric Langford
The council’s year has mainly been influenced by the repercussions caused by financial circumstances that parishioners already know about. This time last year the Council had taken on a £30,000 loan to keep it out of the red. Based on planned stringent cuts to service costs, greater use of volunteers and a change in the council’s business model whereby costly committee structures were abandoned and replaced by lead councillor support groups, it is pleasing to report reduced Council costs. However, the most significant factor in enabling us to reduce the precept this year was the unexpected £14,000 surplus made from the beach car park. While it was a shorter period of beach car park management than previous years and the council also helped fund the temporary toilets, there are no records of such large sums of money being made by the beach car park before.
The council found itself inheriting the threat of a county court judgement from Anglia Water, quickly resolved by payment of the outstanding bills. At the same time it emerged that there were £2,800 of penalty notices for unpaid taxes owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, resulting in the requirement for the Council to pay over some £24,000 to HMRC to clear unpaid employee taxes back to 2007.
With the Office computer database destroyed and financial and employee payroll records missing, a couple of councillors put in a tremendous amount of personal time in building an evidence base to challenge an unfair dismissal appeal and a small claims court case for underpayment of wages, dating back to 2005. These were both successfully defended; however the Council incurred £3,500 in legal costs. When set against the potential of some £25,000 in compensation had the Council lost…it proved to be a good result for the village.
A positive feature for the future is the high number of volunteers who have been engaged in so many aspects of the council’s activities. These range from activities such as cutting grass verges, clearing dog muck at the beach, replanting the roundabout at Alma Road, planting bulbs and pruning the lime trees in Lodge Walk. Others have repaired guttering, painted seats, replaced/repaired fences, removed obsolete concrete lamp posts and cemented in damaged kerb side bollards. This newsletter is a shining example of like minded volunteers cooperating with each other in producing and delivering this to every home in the village. Each and every one of our volunteers, be they councillors or just willing members of the public, have all demonstrated the same sentiment of “I just want to help the council and the village to get back on its feet and improve the lot of the community we all live in”. The Council is both grateful and proud to have so many willing helpers and I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the council to say a big thank you to all those involved in helping our village move forward.
Another big help to the council has been the voluntary contributions of money, time and resources – we have had donations for 3 large litter bins at the beach, fluorescent jackets for car park attendants, wooden planters and 2 yellow grit bins. Some £4,000 in donations from individuals, small and large organisations ensured we were able to maintain the toilet facility at the beach. Donations of time and money by villagers and holiday makers have pushed the beach road footpath “TROD” initiative forward.
Finally, a big first for the village was the West Norfolk Village Olympics – Snettisham entered a team for the very first time last year with about 40 villagers of all ages involved in the many different sporting challenges and we came a commendable seventh out of nine villages competing in our village size. This bodes well for this year’s team doing even better! Let the Council know if you would like to be involved in a team this year.