Christmas is coming – and here in Smalltown it’s time for celebration as we look forward to switching on the Christmas lights!
And this year, it’s going to be something really special. We’ve got a real big local radio celebrity to turn them on and the celebrations are going to last all afternoon, with live reindeer and penguins on Santa’s sleigh.
But hang on a mo’! Did I say penguins? Shurely not. That’s not right, is it?
Don’t penguins live at the South Pole and Santa and his reindeer at the North Pole? There’s no penguins at the North Pole. Didn’t the polar bears eat them all?
Never mind. We’re not going to let a little detail like that spoil the festive fun are we? We’ll just dress them all up in Santa suits. And anyway, this is Smalltown so nobody will know the difference. Job done. Turn those lights on…!
Here in Smalltown we really, really believe that our town is the jewel in the County’s crown – but that doesn’t mean we should sit on our laurels. Oh no! We need to live up to that sparkling reputation and prove just how wonderful we are!
But how should we go about doing this? Now, that is the question – but being as wonderful as we are, we’ve naturally come up with an answer.
Smalltown Town Council has contributed £5,000, the Borough Council has contributed £15,000 and the Smalltown business development group ‘ourwonderfulsmalltown.org’ has lobbed in an further £5,000 to invest in a brand new group : The Development Management Organisation.
So what’s the DMO going to do for us? Well, we’re not sure yet. The money that’s been donated is just for a fact finding study to decide what the DMO might do if we decide we need one after the study has been completed. After all, we might decide that we don’t need a DMO so it will have been money well spent, because it will produce a cost saving produced by not investing any more money in something we don’t need. I think that’s clear?
And the best thing about it is that its cost them nothing to set it all up, because it’s not their money.
It belongs to the ratepayers – and they don’t count.
Here’s a first for the Small Town Man blog – a video!
News from Smalltown Beyton in Suffolk where the local parish council strongly objected to a local resident filming their council meeting. Sally Maynard is in dispute with the council because geese on the village green are being killed by dogs and cars. She wants them rehoused.
Since the law changed in August, she has a legal right to film proceedings but the council clearly didn’t like it, tried to have her ejected and dissolved the meeting. Since then, 4 councillors have resigned in a fit of pique. Classic Smalltown behaviour!
Take a look at the video for a view of local democracy in action :
News from Smalltown Bury St Edmunds that the council has flogged off a property they own in Well Street (see left) – a street voted by readers of the Times as ‘one of the top ten most desirable streets in Britain’. One wonders what the other 9 were like – especially when you bear in mind that this top ten street is in a top 100 crap town.
Well Street is a wonderful place. Conveniently placed for the Shopping Mall that backs onto it and the cafes on the corner, it has the added convenience of resident’s only parking and very attractive double yellow lines. There’s also a Samaritans’s call centre for added local colour. Wow, I wish I lived there!
Seems the council have owned the property since the 1990’s and it was used for housing homeless families. For the last 18 months it has stood empty, so presumably Bury is now officially a homeless free zone. One could, of course, make the alternative assumption that the local residents have driven them away because they lowered the tone and property prices. Shurely not! Not in Bury St Edmunds. The people there are so tolerant.
Anyway, whatever the reason the council has trousered a quid under quarter of a million for this high des res, so jolly well done them. And it’s good to know there’ll be no homeless people on the streets of Bury St Edmunds.
Well, not in Well Street anyway.
Here in Smalltown we’re very proud of our tourist business. We’ve a pretty little town and people come from all over to look at our gardens and our churches, visit our market and shop in our quaint, old worldy town centre.
So you can imagine how we feel about the council’s decision to shut down our Tourist Information Centre in it’s lovely old listed building next to the car park. It’s scandalous! Now we have to wander all over town to Information Points when it used to be really easy and a showcase for what we had to offer.
But needs must. Money is tight. We’re all in it together and sometimes these sacrifices have to be made. So the staff have gone – well actually they’ve gone to other locations – but they’re not at the TIC any more. And then there’s the rent saving. £45,000 odd a year in all. That’s got to be worth the sacrifice hasn’t it?
Such a shame that the lease has 4 years to run and the council doesn’t have a new tenant to take it over, so we’re still paying the same rent for what is now an empty building. Never mind. It’s the thought that counts.
Great news for our local hospital here in Smalltown! We’ve got more money to spend!
It seems that we were budgeting for a deficit in the coming year of £8 million but now the Smalltown NHS Trust management team – who are very, very clever people – have approved a new budget with a deficit of only £6.3 million. This means we have an extra £1.7 million in the pot that we can spend. Jolly well done us!
We asked one of the Trustees, Jane Moneyspender, to comment. She told us “It’s really, really simple. The projected deficit for 2014/15 was £8 million but because we’ve been so clever this is now a lot lower so we have an extra £1.7 million that we can spend without being any worse off than we would have been before. This is excellent news for the Trust and it’s customers!”
Seems to us here at Smalltown Man that they have invented new ways of counting money, but then it could be that we’re just not as clever as the people at Smalltown NHS Trust. Oh dear.
Nurse, bring the screens…
Well the economy may be improving, but here in Smalltown we understand the necessity of keeping our costs under control.
We need to save more money so we’re going to do this by investing in a major consultation exercise to get our ratepayers to come up with the ideas we pay our councillors to come up with. Makes perfect sense.
Of course, we have reserves. Quite substantial reserves in fact. But we still need to reduce our costs in order to keep our council tax bills down as low as possible. After all, there is an election coming next year!
So why don’t we spend some of our reserves? We asked a councillor for a comment. He said…
“Yes, it’s true that Smalltown has a healthy balance in it’s reserves. In fact we have so much we could let you off council tax for a whole year and still have some left over. But it’s still necessary to cut our costs because if we used our reserves to subsidise our spending, then we wouldn’t have big reserves and we need those to cover rising costs.”
Well that’s cleared that up, then…