Shustoke Parish Council welcomes the opportunity to address the issues raised by residents around the replacement of the play equipment within social media, and to provide some relevant background.
The Parish Council agrees an annual budget based on its projected costs but remaining fully conscious that it is Shustoke residents who provide the funding through a precept within the council tax. Because of the pandemic, Councillors resolved not to increase the precept for 2021/22, not wishing to add to the financial burden of some of our residents who might be struggling at the moment. As a result, the Council has limited opportunity to build up reserves quickly to fund big capital projects such as the replacement the play equipment. Nevertheless, the Council has had the benefit of a Jaguar Land Rover donation, and has been working toward a reasonable sum which we hope will be matched or exceeded by various groups which provide such funding. Applications have been submitted, but this is never a rapid process, as bids from a range of organisations are compared and prioritised by funders over a period of months. Unfortunately, the state of the existing play equipment was such that it was necessary to remove it before replacement items were available to prevent the possibility of injuries to children.
Councillors welcome the interest of residents in moving this forward, but hope that their energy and commitment can be channelled into one direction to prevent parallel bids for funding competing for the same sources of money. Residents would be very welcome to work with the Parish Council either as part of a Parish Council Play Equipment Working Group, or as a Parish Councillor. (Despite several advertisements and notices, we have had no volunteers enquiring about the current Council vacancies and are still keen to fill those vacancies as soon as possible.)
Social media comments often include wild speculation, and the Council can confirm that the recreation ground is held in trust specifically to prevent its development for other uses.