Stone Parish Council

Annual Council Budget 2015-16

Budget at a glance 2015-16We have formally approved our annual budget for 2015-16, a year poised to see the parish assert itself as a community seeking to enhance the local environment via production of a Neighbourhood Development Plan, and which is inspired to enable development of its youth through construction of a dedicated centre for scouting and Duke of Edinburgh Award activities.

We welcome feedback regarding this year’s budget proposals and provide a snapshot of supported activities below.

To kick off, we have reconfirmed our extremely popular annual calendar of community events offering a fantastic mix of activities for all ages, and which are all free for residents to attend.

This includes Stone Fete, the Easter Egg Hunt, Remembrance Service and Christmas Light Switch-On; as well as continued support for the popular monthly senior citizens tea & cake mornings, providing an opportunity for social interaction, provision of valuable advice, and educational presentations by topical speakers.

You may also not be aware but we look after almost 60 acres of parks and gardens across the parish, including carrying out playground inspections, rubbish collection, and sports pitch maintenance, for which some new equipment is now required and has been included in the budget.

Stone Pavilion continues to be a venue much in demand from social hirers and local groups and organisations, while also providing important services to the community. Footfall at the building averages around 500 people every week, demonstrating what a valuable resource it has become and which now provides vital income to support the council’s budget.

With local elections also taking place in May 2015, a need for new member training and support is likely and we are preparing to address this through an enhanced internal communications system and strategy that will ensure members are up to date with information, aware of emerging local issues, and are provided access to guidance and materials to assist them in performing their role.

We pride ourselves on the standard of our performance and have been accredited with ‘Quality Council Status’ since 2009. With a revised council award scheme just launched, we will seek to reconfirm to residents that we operate at the forefront of best practice, achieving excellence in governance, community leadership and council development, through aspiring to achieve the auspicious Quality Gold Award.

We are regularly touted as a sector leader in digital and social media communications and deploy a variety of communications tools to ensure we reach and engage as many local residents as possible. We will continue to do this in 2015 to engage residents and ensure your views are heard on key discussions regarding parking issues, Neighbourhood Plan activities, and awareness of local election information.

We are extremely pleased to be continuing our parish apprenticeship scheme providing local youth with an opportunity to gain beneficial work experience and skills while achieving a relevant qualification. These two apprenticeship placements bring our total staffing number to twelve officers, whose combined salaries amount to the same cost as one chief executive of a district or borough council providing, we think, excellent value to local taxpayers. View our Staffing Structure…

Unfortunately, we have also been required to confront declining financial support in the form of reduced grants to support services, resulting in a sizeable deficit to manage.

Dartford Borough Council continues to show commitment to pass on grant funding unlike some other district and borough councils, although resolved to reduce this for 2015-16 to reflect the reduction in the Revenue Support Grant provided to local authorities. In total, we face a reduction in funding of £9,439, equivalent to 23% of grant funding provided in the previous year.

Unlike other tiers of authority, central government doesn’t provide any grants to enable parish and town councils to achieve a council tax freeze resulting in the need for the annual parish tax to increase from £71.01 to £74.37 for a Band D property to ensure we can maintain our high standard of service. This represents a rise of £3.36 (4.7%) per year or 6p per week.

We are committed to ongoing reviews of expenditure to ensure efficiency across all services and give significant attention to income generating activities to reduce pressure on local taxpayers as much as possible.

To submit comments regarding the budget, or to request further information regarding any of the elements proposed in the budget, please email us

View the full budget breakdown – Budget 15-16