Playgrounds are our responsibility

THE criticism of the town council’s proposals to improve its dilapidated playgrounds (News Post Leader, September 15) is ill-informed and short-sighted.

With the support of all political groups we are looking to replace playgrounds at Norwich Way, Chichester Avenue, Nelson Avenue, Mortimer Chase and Majorie Street.

This will be a phased programme over several years and will ensure all areas of Cramlington have modern playgrounds that will provide real play value for children.

But Mr Swinburn says we should not be doing this because it is the responsibility of the county council.

Not true. Playgrounds became the responsibility of the town council in 2009 and if these facilities for our young people are to be brought up to an acceptable standard, it’s down to the town council to make it happen.

It will cost money to make these improvements, but let’s see it in context.

If we carried out all of these works in one year the cost to the average householder would be measured in pennies not pounds.

But these works will be phased over several years, which means that the financial impact for residents will be minimal.

Mr Swinburn is particularly irate that this will impose a major tax burden on Cramlington residents.

Currently the town council annual precept is £21.68p for a Band D property in Cramlington. For Blyth its £32.71p and for Morpeth it’s £100.24p.

The reality is Cramlington has the lowest precept of any town or parish council in south east Northumberland.

Moreover, all money raised by the town council, through its precept, is spent in Cramlington, unlike the council tax which goes into a county-wide pot.

Your correspondent is also critical of the county council’s failure to reduce its council tax bill to take account of services transferred to the town council.

Again, not true. Taking inflation into account, the county’s zero percentage increase for this year equates in real terms to a cut of 4.5 per cent.

The county has taken account of transferred services and these no longer figure in their budget calculations.

The so called double taxation is a figment of the imagination.

Finally, any proposal by the town council with financial implications for next year’s budget will be subject to consultation through the Cramlington People’s Panel.

Membership of the panel is open to all residents and I would urge all residents to sign up and make their views heard.

DAVE SHAW

Chairman

Cramlington Town council