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What does the Council do?

These notes were put together by one of our Councillors to help the other Council members answer some of the questions that residents ask from time to time. Please take the time to read the document if you are wondering what does the Council do..

'On occasion you may be asked “what does Earby Town Council do?” I have tried to put together a document that may help answer this question, although there are probably things missing, but it may help you if you are ever asked.

First of all, the “myth” about us being paid to be Councillors. It actually costs each and everyone of us money for the privilege. (our fuel, computers and printers, telephone calls etc etc) we do not have any allowances whatsoever. We have a Town Clerk/CFO which is an essential in dealing with the running and legalities of any council, a cleaner for 3 hours once a week, a part time janitor for cleaning of the toilets every day (none at the moment) someone to water the plants 2 or 3 times a week from 1st week of June until the end of September. A lengths-man has just been appointed for 2 days a week, this will increase once we have the equipment etc to deal with all our care of parks and playgrounds.

Over the past 7 or 8 years, Pendle Borough Council has shed areas that they do not legally have to maintain. This has more or less been a case of either we take over these areas or we eventually lose them. None of these things bring any funding with them, yet they still have a cost, which Earby Town Council has had to find.

It started with benches, bus shelters and toilets, followed by parks, play grounds and sports pitches, the old PBC offices, the Council car park, dog run area at Hill Top and quite soon we will be owners of the Croquet Club land, the Cemetery Road car park. We already had the allotment sites on School Lane, Cemetery Road, Stoney Bank/Bailey Street, Rostle Top, Rushton Avenue. We had many years previously purchased the Council Office building, at the rear of the old council shop, and what is now the small building in between for storage and the use of the PBC road sweeper. We also purchased the piece of land between our offices and the beck, which we built up and made into the boiler room and garaging for one of our pieces of equipment. The playgrounds are sited on The Waterfalls, Rushton Avenue, Cemetery Road and two sites on the Northolme Estate.

We had the same take it or lose it scenario with the old Youth Hostel which we took on, in a dreadful state of disrepair, and have spent two years and a considerable amount of money upgrading and refurbishing it to what we have now. This will open at Easter of this year (2019) and will provide a source of income as it now has tenants who will run it as a business. The future looks very bright indeed for the newly name Holiday Hostel.

We have the all- weather pitch on Cemetery Road and the Junior pitch by Springfield School, and the Hill Top Football Pitch and Pavillion.

Naturally these all have to be cared for, with replacing old fencing being an ongoing situation, mowing, repairs, inspections etc etc.

We have for many years provided Christmas Decorations and of late have brought back the “big tree” for the town,  (which was suspended for a few years due to the constant vandalism). Lights in the Bus Station trees were added 3 years ago and lamp post “wrap rounds” x5 were introduced last year and a further 5 more will be introduced this year. Floral decorations during the summer along the main street and Bus Station  and flags for the street and public buildings for various occasion. We also have two flag poles, one on the bus station which flies various flags at different times of the year and the one in the Memorial Park by the War Memorial, which flies the Union Flag all the time as a tribute to our Armed Forces and Merchant Shipping Fleet. The War Memorial is regularly cleaned and 7 years ago we added a Memorial Kerb around the paved area of the flag pole and Memorial, to honour service men and women who for reasons unknown,  were missed off the original WW1 Memorial and also to honour the men who have been lost whilst in service, in the later conflicts.

We do some of the mowing ourselves, but until we are in a position to mow all the pitches and parks etc we have Ground Maintenance Contracts with PBC, naturally all this has to be paid for. We also pay money for the country side upkeep of our rural paths and styles.

CCTV cameras also now incur a cost to ETC. (app £350 a month). These have all recently been upgraded and are in great condition with superb clarity.

We. ETC, have 4 private CCTV cameras, 2 on the bus station and two on the Council car park, put in place to help safeguard the property from vandalism.

We took over the toilets on the bus station and at the Station Hotel and spent a considerable amount of money upgrading and refurbishing these as both sites were in a very poor state. Sadly, we have them closed at the moment, due to vandalism, which has cost many 1000’s of pounds to keep repairing and both sites were targets from the day we opened them. We are exploring avenues to try and make them more vandal proof and they will eventually be re-opened, but probably not until 2020 as a great deal of cost is incurred in security doors etc.

Another area where we suffered badly was with flooding. 4 times in the past 8 years which although has been covered by insurance still incurs quite a few costs. Flood alleviation measures have been put in place at the Council’ s expense. i.e. flood doors, gates and barriers etc etc.

We installed a wood pellet burning boiler and a hopper for the pellets, alongside UPC Panels on the roof, this provides heating and lighting at very competitive rates, and we are being as “green” as possible.

Besides the actual care and upkeep of our parks and playgrounds, these places have to be legally inspected every week by a qualified person and reports issued. Over the next few years we will have our own in-house qualified inspector, after various statutory courses and exams which once again all incur high training fees.

We own a considerable amount of equipment already. Although more will need to be added at a later date as we take on more of the work itself. The front office space will be developed as a workshop and storage area to enable us to have all the equipment in one place which will be far more secure and cost effective than having various items stored in different places around town.

A Utility vehicle for towing the watering system and various trailers. Also used for Christmas trees, flags and a multitude of other things and including delivering the market stalls when they go out on hire. This vehicle is also used by the Flood Wardens/Group in times of flood event.

Watering system (New unit this year 2019)

Snow Plough and Gritter (plus tons of salt in storage alongside a large supply of sand bags for flood events.) plus containers in strategic places for sand bags and barriers.

Industrial size mower.

4 other hand driven mowers, strimmer’s, mobile generator and various other implements.

The Council is now also charged a fee for replacing litter and dog waste bins.

We organise one of the largest and well attended Remembrance Sunday Service in the area, with a Parade from the community centre to the Memorial Park. In the past, the Police have always been on hand to manage the traffic. This will not happen in the future and we need to get two Councillors on to official training courses on Traffic Management with Certification. Without these trained Traffic Managers we will not be issued with a Road Closure Permit and therefore would not be allowed the Parade, These courses cost app £200 per person.

Burglar and Fire Alarms have to be tested once a week, and logs books kept, with Annual Inspections by professional inspectors.

The Parish Rooms are available for outside groups to hire for meetings and events.

Once the car park is extended into the space where the youth shelter used to be, this will add further 10 parking places, which the town is short of, and will also allow the whole of the car park to be used to hold specialist markets, car boot sales etc etc.

Council has a Surgery every 1st and 3rd Friday, 10.30am until 12 noon, in the Parish Rooms where everyone is welcome to come along and ask for advice or information.

We have two information board for public notices which are very well used, one on the bus station and the other on the “front office” frontage.

We have a gas fired Beacon which we purchased 5 years ago, and we are now a signed up member to any National Beacon Festivals which are organised by the Office of the Queen’s Pageant Master. These events are held above Earby on the Picnic Site. These again take an enormous amount of site management, ( and traffic management if we also have a torch lit procession)

Trained Councillors go out and grit areas where LCC and PBC do not usually get to, i.e. steep road ends, areas around older people’s accommodation etc etc. This is usually done after tea when the Councillors come home from their work.

Our Public Liability Insurance premium has quite naturally risen by a considerable amount to cover every eventuality. All property, land, playgrounds, indeed anything at all that we own is covered.

Money is set aside every budget and ring fenced to cover replacements for various items so that money is on hand when the time to replace things arrives.

One of the Councillors and/or The Clerk also acts as Health and Safety Officer as all occasions etc have to have Risk Assessments, a copy of which has to be lodged with Zurich 7 days prior to the event.

The Clerk and various Councillors go on training courses to keep ahead of changing regulations etc.

Councillors are Summoned to Full Council once a month and only extreme reasons for not attending are acceptable.

We have merged 10 Committees into 4 large Committees and each meets every 6/8 weeks. Councillors who have chosen to be on a particular Committee are expected to attend.

The precept money pays for all this, but wherever we see a chance we apply for grants for various things and from many different places. The last one being £1500 from the LEF to refurbish the Hostel woods/garden.

As said at the beginning, this will not cover everything we do, but could be helpful in conversations.

Vera Cocker 29.3.19'