Windlesham Parish Council (WPC) recently posted a leaflet to all 17,000 residents of Windlesham, Bagshot and Lightwater outlining the financial implications of a 'Windlesham-only’ parish council.
The WPC leaflet suggests that a new Windlesham-only parish council’s costs would exceed its income, but the updated and corrected figures below show the complete opposite - that a new, Windlesham-only council would continue to generate an annual surplus.
Using the council’s own figures and subsequent clarifications, it is clear that the information in the leaflet is incomplete and that it also contains factual errors, double counting and a number of flawed assumptions, a few of which are listed below:
Around £130,000 ‘other income’ is excluded from the parish's overall income figures outlined in the leaflet. It is very unusual to build a financial projection that excludes 30% of your overall annual income!
Just one example of this is income generated by the Windlesham cemetery. Figures subsequently provided by the clerk, combined with published government burial data, suggest that over £40,000 of this ‘other income’ is attributable to Windlesham from its cemetery alone.
The leaflet itemises the maintenance cost for the Windlesham cemetery, but not the equivalent costs for the Bagshot and Lightwater ones.
That figure is included as part of the £98,392 of “attributable costs” - and the “one third / two thirds” apportionment means that the Windlesham figures include costs for 100% of its own cemetery maintenance, plus 33% of the Bagshot and Lightwater ones!
This ‘double counting’ of maintenance costs incorrectly adds around £5,400 to the Windlesham expenditure figures outlined in the leaflet.
Several people have publicly questioned why a new Windlesham council would require 11 councillors. The Terms of Reference for this review state that a minimum of 5 councillors is required - and local precedent is that 7 is a more realistic assumption.
Projected costs for councillor allowances are therefore £10,500 and not the £16,500 claimed by WPC in its leaflet.
Many residents have commented that the figures and the overall message outlined in the council leaflet seemed rather ‘one-sided’. We were promised “facts” by WPC and the leaflet they have circulated is incomplete, inaccurate and is based on a number of flawed assumptions. The corrections outlined above are all based on the WPC’s own figures and subsequent clarifications.
We therefore reiterate our view that a new, Windlesham-only parish council (Option One) will be able to continue to deliver the current level of services, it will be able to do so with its share of existing income and it will be able to continue to generate a surplus with which to meet future needs.