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Councillors discuss the consequences of devolved services
THE possible options of accepting more responsibility, including taking on the cutting of grass verges, from the county council was discussed in Princes Risborough this week.
At the monthly meeting of Princes Risborough Town Council, Cllr Bill Bendyshe-Brown who is the town's county councillor, outlined the devolution proposals.
Buckinghamshire County Council has come under fire for the way it has handled its grass cutting service with overgrown verges angering residents.
The council has put forward a plan to devolve some of its maintenance services and give funding to town and parish councils, who would form a cluster to share services among themselves.
Cllr Bendyshe-Brown told the town councillors Risborough would get £15,000 from BCC for the devolved services for the year 2015/16, which would then go up to £17,500 before dropping to £12,500 by 2018/19.
He said: "We can either take on the devolved budget which gives us all the opportunities that are in our hands and what we can undertake is in our hands.
"There is money that is set aside to help us with set up costs. For instance, for training our operatives and the like."
He said if the town council took this option and want to maintain the current standards the council currently sets for its parks, then they would probably have to raise the precept.
Cllr Bendyshe-Brown said the second option is not to take the devolved powers and the service will go down, and the town would lose its already devolved service budget.
The town's cluster would include Lacey Green and Longwick, and could include Bledlow, Great Hampden, Kimble, Ellesborough, Bradenham and possibly Hughenden.
He said the town council needs to move quickly as the devolved services would start in April next year.
Cllr Alan Turner said: "We need a full written proposal and time to digest it. I would suggest the best way forward would be a separate meeting."
He said if they had to raise the precept it would in effect, be double taxation and they need to consult the public.
He added: "The county council aren't reducing their portion of the council tax. They just put it up. We are getting less for more."
Cllr Gary Hall said: "The town is a mess. All services are going to hell in a handcart.
"This is the opportunity now to turn things around. Maybe it would take a public meeting.
"We have got to have some interaction with the public."
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