Egremont town council: Precept rise 2019/20

Egremont Town Council has this year increased their precept by 5% which equates to an overall amount of £6,970 and for the majority of residents in Egremont parish that lives in a Band B property, it will mean an annual increase of £2.43 per year meaning it remains at less than £1 per week.

Egremont Town Council believe that this offers the residents of Egremont parish good value for money and would like to remind residents of what we do and what we are responsible for:

Egremont Cemetery – our award winning cemetery is maintained by our full time curator who keeps the grounds in an excellent condition. A contractor is paid to cut the grass 12 times per season and a contractor digs the graves when required. Quite some time ago, Egremont Town Council took the decision to restrict burials to only those who lived in Egremont parish as it is the residents who pay the precept towards the upkeep of the cemetery, people from outside of the parish can still have their cremated remains interred in the cemetery but they are charged an extra rate for doing so.

Our curator is an asset to our Town Council and goes over and above what is expected of him. It is thanks to him that the Jubilee Garden within Egremont Cemetery has been awarded “outstanding” (the top award) every year since 2014 in the RHS annual competition. He is responsible for planting and maintaining the flower bed opposite the cemetery and is very much involved in the annual Cumbria in Bloom competition making a lot of planters himself from recycled materials.

Within the cemetery is two listed chapels which the Town Council is responsible for, they are not in the best condition and the Council is looking at obtaining grants to at least keep them safe.

Egremont Town Council is also responsible for the house that sits within the Cemetery itself, it is currently leased out to tenants and the Town Council is responsible for the building itself and any exterior repairs.

Egremont Market Hall – this hall is used for a variety of functions including craft fayres, exercise classes, conferences, meetings, birthday parties, concerts etc. Egremont Town Council recognises that it is a community hall and as such, have again, not increased the hall hire fees to ensure it is affordable for all. Every month there is the regular Farmers Market bringing in a variety of goods which otherwise Egremont parishioners would have to travel further afield to see, we have also in the past donated to the community bus which brings in people from Bootle way who not only visit the Farmers Market but bring their custom to the local businesses too.

Every year, Whitehaven Theatre Group put on a fantastic pantomime for all to see and it shows the hall off to its best, it is used annually for the crab fair event and concert goers have reported on the great acoustics in the hall. Last year, we invited two local and very talented artists to paint a mural on the back wall of the stage which they did very successfully so now instead of looking at a plain brick wall, you can see their depiction of Egremont Castle in all its glory.

The Market Hall is fully accessible for disabled users with a disabled toilet and a stair lift to access the room upstairs, there is a fully fitted kitchen where people can cook & prepare food and a bar facility which is run by the Rugby League Club in partnership with the Town Council. The main hall floor has also recently been fully refurbished and is ideal for all functions. The Market Hall however is an old building and there are ongoing issues that need to be addressed which are not always an easy fix when the building sits within the conservation area but the public is encouraged to come and view the hall to see what we offer – just contact the office to arrange a date to pop in.

The Market Hall is also home to the Town Council office which is at the rear of the building, the Town Clerk and currently two part-time staff occupy the upstairs rooms and the office is open from 9am – 1pm from Monday to Friday. Anyone is free to call in to ask for advice and as a service provider, we

hold the recycle boxes, lids, cardboard bags for anyone to pick up and which will save them travelling to Whitehaven. The public can visit the office to see plans for recent planning applications, they can report any street lights that are out, potholes or anything else they have concerns about, the staff can then pass on these complaints to the relevant authorities. The office also holds all the cemetery books and have the records dating back to 1864 when the cemetery opened and visitors come from far & wide to see where ancestors are laid at rest.

Egremont Town Council owns two allotment sites – Bridgend and East Road and manage the Sandholes allotment site which belongs to Copeland Borough Council. Anyone who resides in Egremont parish is free to put their name down on the waiting list for an allotment by calling into the office, ringing in or emailing.

Egremont Town Council owns the Bowling Green pavilion which sits on Copeland Borough Council’s land which the Town Council pays an annual rent for. The Bowling Green itself which is available for all the public to use is managed by a Bowling Green committee, last year, the green had a total makeover and people can go and sit in the grounds and appreciate the work that has been carried out, it is a great pastime for young and old and everyone is more than welcome to visit and have a go.

The Town Council is affiliated to the Lengthsman scheme which is funded by the parishes of Egremont, St Bees, Haile & Wilton and Beckermet with Thornhill and this allows for a workman to carry out work across these parishes for 2 days per week and Egremont believes that we get great value for money. Our Lengthsman carries out litter picking, weed spraying, painting and repairing street furniture, path maintenance, grass cutting, he also helps by taking part in the annual Cumbria in Bloom planting so if any parishioners know of any areas of concern, please contact the office and we will try to address them.

Egremont Castle within our parish is also maintained by the Lengthsman with funding from Lord Egremont and together we are striving to improve the grounds by adding wild flowers, we have already seen the improvement of the sensory bed thanks to Bookwell School and this year, the three local primary schools will each have a flower bed that they will be responsible for. This is fantastic news to hear that the Castle is being utilised and enjoyed again by the whole community and what it was meant for so please go in and take a look. Unfortunately, things are spoiled by the few irresponsible people who walk through the grounds and allow their dogs to foul without picking up after them on top of which there is the odd spate of vandalism but it hoped that with the extra input put into the castle by the school children and others, people will respect this and aim to keep the Castle the wonderful place it is meant to be.

Egremont Town Council has an annual donation budget of £1,000 set aside and anyone is invited to submit a request for funding with preference given to those that benefit people within our parish. Last year grants were given to Lowes Court, Rugby Union flood defence scheme and towards the foodbank to enable an advisor to continue attending the Egremont sessions. On top of our donation budget, we set aside a £1,000 youth grant and The Youth Partnership and the Phoenix Youth Centre (who has attendees from Moor Row – within Egremont parish) have both benefitted in the past.

Though Egremont Amenity Committee has organised the town’s Christmas lights including the tree in Bigrigg and Moor Row with financial assistance from Egremont Town Council, the Council has now agreed that the hard work of the Amenity Committee in lighting up our town and villages since 2012 should continue and therefore we have taken over (for at least the next 3 years) the responsibility of the lights at an approximate annual cost of £15,000 per year as we believe that Egremont parishioners deserve their parish to be lit up at Christmas time and we believe it is money well spent.

Unfortunately due to government cuts, more and more responsibilities are falling onto the local councils and one such extra responsibility is the bus shelters which used to be under Copeland Borough Council’s remit but Copeland will no longer replace a bus shelter once it becomes irreparable so it then falls to the Town Council to make the decision as to whether or not they will fund the cost of replacing it, last year alone over £600 was paid to replace panels that had been daubed with graffiti or broken so it is not a cheap fix.

Also due to government cuts, any street lights that currently belong to Copeland but become irreparable, will not be replaced, this is something the Town Council can consider replacing but with costs of around £2,500 to replace each light plus running, maintenance & insurance costs on top and the fact that there is a lot of lights that, as time goes on, will all become defunct, this is something the Town Council is very concerned about but cannot commit to.

Egremont Town Council regularly arrange community litter picks and the public are very welcome to attend, we get a lot of support from the schools, Calderwood, local businesses etc and if anyone knows of a particular grot spot, then please inform the office and we will try to address it.

This year, Egremont Town Council will again be entering Egremont into this year’s Cumbria in Bloom competition and we hope to improve upon last year’s fantastic award of Silver-Gilt, businesses will be contacted to see if they will ensure their frontages are cleaned up and they will be asked to provide some kind of floral provision outside their shop to enhance the 45 flower baskets and 11 planters paid for by Egremont Town Council plus we will be adding to this by providing more planters in various forms and creating an Alice in Wonderland theme in Egremont Castle