Olney Council report for February 2014
Ian Stokes was the only member of the public to speak in this slot. He was concerned about the Pelican Crossing on the A509 near Midland Road, noting that many times he’d seen cars cross the lights at red. He felt this was due to a combination of inattention and plain not wanting to stop, and that, especially since the crossing is used by School children and elderly people, the problem needed attention. Debbie Brock said she’d highlight the issue with Milton Keynes Council (MKC).
Joe Stacey reported that the current status of MKC’s housing requirements for the borough’s rural areas is that 326 additional houses are required. While that’s considerably less than its previous figure of 1760, he noted that Woburn Sands had indicated it would like no further houses, having already taken significant numbers.
Dickens of a Christmas
Jeremy Rawlings gave a brief update on what was a successful Dickens of a Christmas Day. The weather on the day was very good, and it was generally thought to be one of the best since the event’s inception.
Deidre Bethune explained that the Council’s accounts had been internally audited and received a glowing report. She then noted a couple more points from the Committee’s last meeting. The Committee had recommended that the Council take out its insurance with AON, which came in considerably cheaper than competing quotes, and this was agreed by full Council. The Committee had considered a three year draft budget and precept for the accounting period 2014 – 2017. It had voted to approve this budget, which will set the precept for the first year at £166,000, a 2.67% increase on the previous year. It would then rise by 1.2% for each of the following two years.
Peter Geary felt that planning a three year budget was proving a useful exercise, helping the Council take a long term view of its finances. He also asked Deidre if the budget took into account the planned reductions in Government funding over the next few years. She confirmed it did, meaning that, in spite of the rise in precept, the Council’s overall income would barely rise at all.
MKC budget consultation
MKC had drawn up a detailed consultation document on its budget for 2014-2015 and sent it to its local Councils for review. Olney Town Council (OTC) discussed it at this meeting. Various Councillors felt that the document was so long and detailed that it made it hard to find the parts on which it’d be useful to comment. Peter Geary explained that the detail had been provided in order to allow Councils to see exactly the information they needed, rather than risking hiding information by, for example, gathering too many figures together under one total or summarising too heavily.
Jeremy Rawlings noted that, like many other Councils, it was likely that MKC would in the coming years stop its Youth Services budget. As Chair of Olney Youth Centre, Jeremy felt it’d be beneficial for this budget to continue. Councillors agreed that OTC’s feedback would be that Youth Services should be retained, that some of the previously cut bus services should be reinstated, and that it did not wish to see a reduction in library opening hours.
Community Asset Transfer (CAT)
OTC had asked MKC whether it would be possible for the Cattle Market and Fountain Court car parks to be transferred to OTC under the CAT program. MKC had replied in the negative – that it would retain these car parks. From the comments of some Councillors, it wasn’t completely clear why the question had been asked in the first place.
Olney Town Colts FC
As reported before, Olney Town Colts FC is moving towards obtaining planning permission to build changing rooms in an extension to the left of the tractor shed, approximately symmetrical with the toilet blocks to its right. Councillors were broadly in favour of this development, noting a few issues. Deidre Bethune questioned whether sufficient space would remain available for the Council’s tractors and other machinery. Tony Evans confirmed that it would. Peter Geary, aware of ongoing occasional problems with the sewage drainage from the building, asked if the existing drainage capacity was sufficient. Tony felt it probably was not, and that the Council should request plans for both surface and foul water drainage. Tony noted the need to end up with a machinery compound as safe as the current one and with suitable access, without any cost to OTC. Finally it’s likely that, once planning permission is obtained, the land will be passed to the Colts on a long term lease for a peppercorn rent, much as happens for other Clubs’ buildings.
The Council gave permission for the Newport Pagnell & Olney Lions to hold Motorama on Sunday 8th June. Permission was also given for Booze on the Ouse to be held on Saturday 28th June, this year with the marquee located between the tennis and all weather courts, close to the Colts’ planned new building.
MKC is consulting about how it should in future provide transport for those who are disabled or have difficulties using public transport, and had sent a consultation document to its local Councils to discover their views. The suggested options included on-demand shared taxis and various volunteer driver schemes. Debbie Brock noted that the existing service was creaking under the weight of demand and not able to fulfil expectations. The Council will feed back its wish that any changes should not result in Olney suffering a reduction in this service.
Two wicker pancake race runners have been ordered and will shortly be installed in one of the Market Square flower beds.
Next Meeting - 3rd March
The next meeting will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 3rd March in the Council Chamber in the Olney Centre. Members of the public are always welcome to attend and, if they wish, speak at the start of the meeting, or at any point that the mayor decides is appropriate.