CROWLAND PARISH COUNCIL: Belt tightening due to rent rise error
A warning of short-term spending cuts due to an underpayment of rent on land used by Crowland farmers has come from parish councillors.
During Monday’s meeting, it emerged that a rent rise from 2014 for land owned by the Somerley Estate and rented out to the parish council was not reflected in payments made over the last four years, resulting in £21,000 worth of arrears.
There will be a little bit of pain to be absorbed and so we need to make some decisions about the money coming in to the council because the underpayment will obviously have an effect on what costs we can absorb
Coun Bryan Alcock, finance committee chairman, said: “Crowland Parish Council is a tenant of the majority of the land owned by Somerley Estates around Crowland and has been for many, many years.
“The parish council manages and re-lets the land to a variety of local farmers.
“It also manages and lets a similar amount of land owned by the council itself, with the Somerley Estate land being part of the overall landholding owned by the Earl of Normanton and his family.”
As part of the deal, the parish council pays 90 per cent of the land rent to the Somerley Estate but when the rents went up in 2014, the new rate was not applied.
Coun Alcock said: “There will be a little bit of pain to be absorbed and so we need to make some decisions about the money coming in to the council because the underpayment will obviously have an effect on what costs we can absorb.
“It’s unfortuate and it’s one of those things that shouldn’t have happened which means that we’ll have to keep our eyes on the ball more closely in future.”
• Work is set to start shortly on an access road and “communal building” at Crowland’s new allotments site off James Road.
Bad weather, planning and legal issues have held up allotment holders looking to move over onto the site.
But in a letter given to the Spalding Guardian, the parish council said that work should start in mid-April and take about “six weeks to complete”.
The letter said: “We have now been able to give instructions for the building of the access road and communal building to the chosen contractors.
“Meanwhile, works to complete the irrigation system, with all necessary testing, is imminent and should be complete within the next few days.”
Meanwhile, two parties have expressed an interest in redeveloping the existing Abbey Farm allotments site, also in James Road. and they will meet with members of the parish council’s asset working party in the coming days.
• A scheme to build six houses on land in Crowland once used as a school playing field has been opposed by several residents and Sport England.
Planning committee members are due to consider plans by Hampshire-based BB Homes to develop land in Chapel Street at a meeting on Monday.
But neighbours have objected due to narrowness of the road and the limited view for drivers turning out of Chapel Street into Broadway, whilst Sport England fears the loss of the playing field itself.
In a statement to South Holland District Council, Crowland district councillor Angela Harrison said: “Much of the length of Chapel Street is barely the width of two cars which means that if there are vehicles parked along this road, emergency vehicles and HGVs are unable to pass.
“Turning out of Chapel Street into Broadway is usually problematic, not only due to the buildings immediately left and right, but also due to there usually being cars parked outside both premises.
“The application suggests a further 24 vehicles, which will only add to the congestion on this narrow street, and for a prefabricated garage at a bungalow to be relocated close to the junction of the proposed access road to the site.
“Placed in this position, it will hinder the view of drivers exiting the driveway from the application site.”
• Parish councillors are to host a team from Lincolnshire Highways Department for a “walkabout” in Crowland on Monday.
The meeting, organised by Crowland county councillor Nigel Pepper, will include further talks about the safety of the A16/B1166 “Radar Corner” junction.
Sspeaking to the Spalding Guardian last month, Coun Richard Davies, executive member for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Average speed cameras were installed along this section of A16, including Radar Corner, in December 2016 and we are currently looking into whether they have had a positive impact on safety.
“We also recently undertook a study looking into how the A16/B1101 junction in Crowland could be made safer, with the installation of a roundabout at the top of the list.
“However, at the moment, there is currently no funding available for such a large project.”