It’s the time of year when Councils have to report their accounts for the year which ended on 31 March. The figures can make interesting reading. Let’s compare Wantage Town Council and Grove Parish Council.
Wantage received a total of around £410,000 from different sources for the year. Grove received about £335,000.
Where we see a major difference is in how the money was spent. To a large extent this comes from the fact that Wantage Council owns no buildings or land, other than the market square, allotments and the cemetery; other public amenities are owned by the District Council.
So Wantage spent £120,000 on salaries and office expenses, whereas Grove spent about £190,000. However, the latter included around £95,000 for outdoor staff who maintain all the land around the parish not just that owned by the Council but the verges etc. as well. (Including the land just sold at auction.)
Grove also spent over £30,000 on maintenance but was nevertheless able to contribute to events and give about £30,000 in grants and donations, principally to GroW Families Community Group, Sweatbox and the Letcombe Brook Project.
Wantage was able to spend £20,000 on events, added £100,000 to reserves and spent £100,000 on grants and donations to local organisations such as the Vale and Downland Museum, Sweatbox, the Children’s Centre, Wantage Independent Advice Centre, and the Letcombe Brook Project.
There are differences also in how the income of the two councils is made up.
Grove received about £240,000 in council tax from the residents and about £30,000 in developer contributions. They own the Old Mill Hall and much of the green space in Grove so received about £65,000 from use of the Old Mill Hall, sports pitches, and other sources, including money from the County Council for maintaining the verges and County- owned land in the Parish.
Wantage received about £333,000 in council tax and about another £50,000 in grants and developer contributions. However, it has little other income apart from £25,000 in fees for allotments, markets, fairs and the cemetery.
What we don’t know is how much is contributed in council tax by the residents of Wantage and Grove to the District and County Councils, nor what is spent by those councils in this area.
What we do know is that the Beacon, Leisure Centre and most of the parks and green spaces in Wantage are owned by the Vale, so any income and maintenance costs are down to the District Council.