Official response from Stoke Poges Parish Council
In light of recent events we would like to make our position clear as we work extremely hard for the benefit of all our local residents and will explain the legal restrictions and limitations that have brought about our decision. These have already been conveyed to all parties directly involved with the matter.
When the Parish Council is required to make a decision, members have to be satisfied with the answers to these questions: ‘Is it legal?’, ‘What are the risks and are they mitigated?’ and where a cost arises ‘Is the council allowed in law to spend taxpayers’ money on this and if so, is it value for money?’.
The Parish Council investigated if they could facilitate child-minded children on the allotments, however, legal and HMRC advice is that allowing child minded children constitutes business use. The Parish Council sought legal opinion on this.
Stoke Poges has 55 allotment plots, for which there is a waiting list. The cost of maintaining these plots is heavily subsidised by your Council Tax and therefore business use of any kind is prohibited. Businesses have, in the past, taken on allotment space to benefit their business. Businesses should not benefit from community-subsidised facilities.
Upon obtaining a plot all holders are made aware of the contents of their contract, and sign an agreement that they will not use the plot for any business purposes. Agreements are up to date and in line with national legislation and law.
If the Parish Council were able to facilitate such a request they have a statutory duty to ensure a Safe Guarding Officer is in place, meaning extra duties and ongoing training for the officer as well as parish councillors, who are all volunteers. This would constitute spending money in support of a private business and would be unlawful.
If this were to be implemented, it would have the consequence of a significant increase in local council taxes, something which we believe is not fair to ask of the local community so that one individual can be catered for.
The Parish Council prides itself on listening to villagers’ views and has been in discussions on this matter for seven months. All legal and practical reasons for reaching the decision have been explained in detail to all parties. However, as they have not been made clear to the public in the subsequent petitioned argument – the Parish Council felt it necessary to issue this statement.
We do not believe in significantly raising the council tax of every resident of Stoke Poges in order to facilitate an extra benefit offered by one local business.
Decisions are made ensuring your Council tax is spent wisely and used in the best interest of the whole village, not individual residents.
What the Parish Council have done for the wider community:
Built a sports pavilion and hall for football clubs and uniformed groups (cubs, beavers, scouts, brownies and guides). This is a community space.
Purchased extensive playground equipment for all ages for both recreational areas
Installed an outdoor gym
Installed a multi-use games area in Bells Hill Rec.
Installed a hard surface safe exercise path in Bells Hill Rec.
Installed disabled and double buggy access gates into the recreational areas
Refreshed the Village Green, planted and maintain it.
Reinstalled the flagpole and Beacon
Installed new village Christmas lights and Christmas tree
Set up the Good Neighbour Scheme
Commissioned a War Memorial on the Village Green
Built new bus shelters
Organise community events, Carols on the Green etc. litter picks
Help set up the Stoke Poges Store Cupboard during Covid lockdowns
Publishing and distributing the quarterly magazine Stoke Poges News to every home in the parish.
Installed four village defibrillators in partnership with Southern Counties Ambulance Service.
Stoke Poges Parish Council