Town Council Precept
Birchwood Town Council’s portion of the Council Tax for the 2023/2024 financial year will be £120.66 on a Band D property. This represents, an increase in regard to the Town Council’s portion of the Council Tax of just over £3.47 per year, or 7 pence per week more for a Band D property.
Members are mindful of the current increasing demands on our residents regarding the cost of living and have therefore not increased the local portion of the Council Tax more than they think is absolutely necessary (2.5%) well below the rate of inflation (11.1%) as it stood in December 2022.
The funding received by the Town Council will be allocated to cover general inflation in operational costs and services supplied to the Town Council, and will enable us to endeavour to continue to offer the current level of services within the area, including the additional grass cuts between those undertaken by the Borough Council.
A precept requirement of £376,816.00 has been submitted to the Borough Council by the Town Council for the 2023/2024 financial year.
Full and detailed discussions regarding the 2023/2024 budget and future precept were undertaken during meetings in November and December 2022. These considerations are published in the minutes of those meetings.
There has been a decrease of eight homes in the number of Band D properties in Birchwood for 2023/2024, which if the precept had not been increased slightly, would have equated to around -£1,640.66 less income to the Town Council for the next financial year.
Anticipated balances to be carried forward from the 2022/2023 year end are £346,456.00.
What does the Precept pay for?
The Town Council is often asked what their Council Tax is used to pay for.
The Town Councillors themselves, do not receive any payment or expenses, with the exception of the Chair during his/her term of office. All the work your Town Councillors undertake in representing residents is done on a voluntary basis.
The Town Council campaigns on local issues, and lobbies other agencies (including land owners) to take action, or rectify defects, which are in the interests of the local community. It normally comprises of twelve Councillors, who are elected by the people of Birchwood. The twelve Councillors represent four wards within Birchwood; Chatfield (2), Gorse Covert (3), Locking Stumps (4) and Oakwood (3).
There are currently three part-time administrative staff based at Parkers Farm; The Clerk. the Responsible Finance Officer/Deputy Clerk and an Administrative Assistant, who, together with your Town Councillors, deal with matters of concern to local residents, on a daily basis.
There are many things which the Town Council does on a daily basis; delivering and coordinating services, to meet local needs and striving to improve the quality of life in the parish. We liaise with partner organisations and landowners regularly.
Birchwood Town Council is quite unique, in that it has its own community maintenance resource, currently made up of a full-time Senior Maintenance Operative, and three full-time, and two part-time, Maintenance Operatives. They are on hand, five days a week, to tackle things such as litter picking, some landscape and horticulture maintenance, footpath gritting in winter, as well as many other jobs.
From 2017 the team took on some additional, intermediate grass cutting, on the Warrington Borough Council land located in Birchwood. This is done in between, and in addition to, the Borough Council's grass cutting schedule.
You will probably have seen the team out and about in the area in our distinctive vans. Two of the old diesel vehicles that had come to the end of their serviceable life, were replaced with much more environmentally friendly electric vans, in December 2021.
The Team undertake a wide variety of tasks including litter picking, landscape maintenance, some footpath gritting in extreme icy conditions, the installation and maintaining the hanging baskets around Birchwood Mall (paid for by the shopping centre), the maintenance of local planters, checking and cleansing several play areas daily, along with various other tasks as they crop up.
As the Town Council does not own any land in Birchwood (with the exception of our car park and a small piece of land adjacent to our office), any landscaping or other maintenance cannot be done without the prior permission of the landowner. The Town Council works in partnership with other local organisations such as Warrington Borough Council and Your Housing Group, which the Team and Officers liaise with on a regular basis.
In addition to the two main landowners in the area: Warrington Borough Council and Your Housing, there are also other pockets of land that are owned by organisations such as The Woodland Trust, the Home and Communities Agency and several private landlords - it can be a bit difficult at times trying to find the right landlord to ask for permission to undertake necessary work.
The Maintenance Team have undergone specific training for the work they carry out and this training is undertaken and upated regularly, however, there are some aspects of landscape maintenance they are not trained for, such as cutting down large trees; in cases such as this the landowner would have to arrange to have the work done.
In recent times the role of the Maintenance Operatives has changed significantly in order to pick up some work which is either no longer carried out or which has been cut back significantly by other organisations.
In any given week, the tipper truck usually goes to the waste site twice to tip off. All of this rubbish has been collected from the streets, bins, paths and parks in Birchwood.
The Town Council also funds/part funds some community projects. Examples of these include supporting Birchwood Carnival each year, part funding the upgrade to Birchwood Brook Footpath, part funding the refurbishment of the play areas and the addition of the outdoor exercise equipment on the Forest Park, funding additional benches and waste bins in the area, and, most recently, in 2023, put £20,000 towards the refurbishment of the play area in Locking Stumps and £1,500 towards a memorial plaque and information lectern on the Forest Park, to commemorate the people who worked in the Risley Ordnance factories.
In addition, the Town Council owns, and is custodian of, the Grade II Parkers Farm and the adjacent barn buildings. This is an asset which ultimately belongs to the Birchwood Community.