All councils will have to find cuts

I WISH to reply to the letter (News Post Leader, August 4) referring to the presence of myself, Anita Romer, and Bobby Nixon on the Seaton Valley Parish/Community Council.

We are also Northumberland county councillors and obviously find ourselves from time to time defending the barrage of abuse aimed at the Liberal Democrat-run county by members on the Labour-run parish council.

Throughout Northumberland there has always been parish councils; the only area without was Blyth Valley and Wansbeck.

On unification this had to be addressed and the way to appoint parish and town councils was to make it a political election.

Obviously if more individuals had put their names forward as Liberal Democrat candidates there would have been no need for Bobby or myself to stand.

We were very fortunate that Liz Vuyk did take up the challenge and was duly elected together with Susan Dungworth and myself for Hartley Ward.

Many of the town and parish councillors in the south east are also county members. I will not apologise for the fact that this proves to be a problem with Labour supporters who frequent the Seaton Valley parish council meetings.

The point raised in the letter referred to the ‘cuts to the services forced onto parish councils by Northumberland County Council.

As a member of the executive of the county council it has been my privilege to go around other parishes and put the situation of reduction of services and redeployment of assets to them.

I have been greeted by great courtesy and a willingness to work together to do what is best for the local residents and their areas.

I wonder why there is so much negativity in Seaton Valley – the area I most care about?

Bus shelters: The floor will continue to be cleaned by the county, the frame and replacements would be parish responsibility.

Seat benches: These will become parish council assets but would be removed if too dangerous and could be replaced by donation from residents as a memorial.

War memorials: these have never been maintained by the county and there are grants for their upkeep.

Grass cutting: this will continue to be done by the county but any more cuts than the usual 13 a year will be the parish’s responsibility.

Public toilets: if used by visitors and tourists, such as in Seaton Sluice, these will continue to be cared for by the county.

Litter bins: will become parish council assets in April 2012, replacements, if necessary, will need to be paid for. However, dog waste can be put in ordinary bins negating the need for special ones.

Signage replacement: will become the parish council’s responsibility.

Flower beds: county is prepared to plant up all beds with perennials before April 2012, after that the planting of annual bedding plants will be the parish council’s responsibility. There is already a grant of £1,000 per village in Seaton Valley to prepare for Northumbria in Bloom.

Play parks and sports fields: will become the parish’s responsibility in two years’ time. Even these do not need to be a financial burden as local businesses could buy replacement play equipment and residents may want to buy a piece as a memorial. Rents could come from the hire of the sports fields.

Money will need to be found to pay for much of the services.

Yes, raising the parish precept will need to occur. However, the figures quoted are those erroneously released last winter and for which the county has apologised many times.

This is a scare mongering tactic to be taken with a ‘pint of salt’.

It is difficult to give accurate figures as money can be found from several organisations.

Ideas from residents would be most welcome. Individuals may like to take on the care of a particular bench seat, I do.

County councils throughout the UK all have to make cuts or find ways of being more efficient due to the millions of pounds no longer given out by central government.

ANITA ROMER