Suffice to say the Parish Council’s balances are good and in line with expectations. Once the annual audit is complete the accounts will be available for scrutiny. A financial report is presented to the Parish Council each month. Members receive a monthly breakdown of income together with details of the expenditure (payments) and expenses. Members also receive a copy of the review of spending against the Council’s agreed budget. This provides members with comfort that their spending plans are proceeding as hoped, or with information about areas where spending is higher or lower than anticipated.
As it stood on 31st March 2022, the Parish Council held a ‘general reserve’ of £83,431.02.The council subsequently received 50% of its precept (£14,892.50) for the financial year 2022/2023. The Parish Council has regularly been advised that the level of the general reserve is a matter of judgement. If it is too low, then it may not be enough to cover unexpected expenditure or emergencies; if it is too high, then local electors have paid a tax which is not being used for the benefit of the local community.
The Parish Council is strongly advised to review the decision to ring-fence or earmark £35,000.00 from general reserves for improvements to the building and community facilities at Lynemouth Welfare Pavilion. The Parish Council has a duty first and foremost to consider what its own financial needs and statutory commitments will be.
As part of what is known as a section 106 agreement, ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) Lynemouth windfarm pays money each year into a wind turbine fund managed by the Parish Council and distributed for local projects and regeneration. In November 2021, a grant of £15,000.00 was made from the money in SPR’s community account reserves to Lynemouth Recreation Ground (LRG) towards new playground equipment for younger children.
It should be noted that the agreed expenditure on the new Centennial Nature Garden project (£31,609.00) exceeded the reserves in the Scottish Power Community Account, which meant that funds needed to be temporarily used from the current account (general reserves) to bridge the gap whilst keeping the wind farm account open with a small balance (£968.85) until the next community benefit payment is received. It is the first time ever SPR’s community account’s balance has been cleared at the start of a new financial year. The community benefit payment figure for 2022/2023 is £9,405.08.
Clerk to the Council and Responsible Financial Officer (RFO)
3rd May 2022