Happy new year and thanks to all those who attended our fireworks display in November and the winter festival in Queen’s Park Gardens on December 10. It was great to see so many of you. As some of you know, Queen’s Park Community Council last year approved a £20,000 donation to Avenues youth project, Third Avenue, following an emergency appeal from the centre after its Westminster City Council funding was cut to zero. We consulted with the community before this decision was taken. Around 30 responses to our call-out were received and all were in favour of supporting the centre. The QPCC donation was required to be match-funded, so for every £1 we gave, Avenues was required to raise another £1.
As part of the budgeting process for 2017/18, we are considering a further donation to Avenues of £20,000 – a fraction of the total amount needed to fund the youth service but still a significant contribution which could – for example – pay the salary of a part-time caretaker to enable the building’s use as a wider community centre; or fund a programme of holiday and half-term activities.
Councillors have looked for and identified savings, to enable us to continue to support Avenues while continuing to deliver on the commitments identified in our business plan including: a Queen’s Park Neighbourhood Plan; improvements to Queen’s Park Gardens including enhanced park management scheme; tackling anti-social dog behaviour; a summer festival, autumn fireworks display and winter festival; a residents’ newsletter (Queen’s Park Voice) and website; a grants programme supporting groups and activities for local people. We are in the process of hiring a development worker one of whose tasks will be to fundraise to provide further investment in our community.
In addition to the savings identified, an increase to the precept is necessary in order for the council to deliver this ambitious programme.
The “precept” is the Queen’s Park Community Council’s main source of income. It is paid by council tax payers in the community council area.
The proposed increase is £10,033 in 2017/18 – taking our total precept income from £145,151 to £155,184. On a Band D property, this equates to an increase of £1.98 per household spread across the year; or 16.5 pence per household per month or, in percentage terms, an increase of 6.9%.
Do you have any comments on this proposed increase or on the council’s proposal to offer financial support to Avenues for a second year? We are very keen to hear residents’ views. Please email these, or any questions, to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 2pm on January 25. You are also welcome at the council meeting at the Beethoven Centre, Third Avenue, on January 25 at 6pm where members of the public may speak.
In future years we are keen to involve residents in our budgeting process at an earlier stage, and would be glad to hear from any residents who would be interested in attending a workshop or other session.
Susanna Rustin, Chairman of QPCC, and committee chairs Katie Cowan (Chair of Environment & Open Spaces) Ryan Dalton (Chair of Communications and Events) Gill Fitzhugh (Chair of Neighbourhood Planning) and Emma Morgan (Chair of Policy & Resources)