Parish Councils will no longer have to fear losing all financial support from Brentwood Council thanks to pressure from local Conservatives.
The Leader of the Council had previously announced that the grants given to the Parish Councils would be reduced to zero, causing much angst locally. He even tried to blame the Conservatives for the cut by closing to have inherited the situation.
According to both the minutes and witnesses of the meeting between him and the Parish Councils, it was claimed that under the Conservatives, the Council had a policy of reducing the grant given to the Parish Councils to zero and that the new Lab / Lib led coalition were unable to do anything about it.
Conservative Group Leader, Louise McKinlay said,"I am delighted that following pressure from us, the Leader has had a change of heart. It is the right decision. It is not and never has been a policy of ours to cut all funding to the Parish Councils. They do some great work in the rural areas, addressing matters that in many cases, would fall back to the borough council if they didn't do it. Whilst greater financial independence would undoubtedly help to make them stronger, to cut off the financial lifeline completely would be unfair and counter productive."
Louise wrote to the Leader of the Council before Christmas, outlining the facts and position of the Conservative Group. She asked for a letter of clarification to be sent to the parish councils, explaining that the statements made by the Council Leader were totally false and that any decision to remove funding by the council was down to his administration and no-one else.
Louise added, "I have had to chase for the matter to be dealt with and I am still waiting. It is outrageous."
Keith Parker, Conservative Spokesman for the Community went on, "The Leader has clearly backtracked, which is good news but he needs to be upfront about making inaccurate claims that Conservatives were cutting the grants to zero, however much embarrassment that causes him. He cannot go round making statements which are simply false. He should do the right thing and clarify the position properly so as there is no misunderstanding, not attempt to push it on to someone else."
Louise will be outlining the detail of the Conservatives' policy of supporting Parish Councils, when the Party's alternative budget is presented later this year.