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Louth Town Council Will Pay Hubbards Hills Trust Another 10000

November 30th 2016

Following a council meeting on Tuesday, 29th November at the Sessions House, the town council voted in favour of paying more for the upkeep of Hubbards Hills. For the past seven years the council has paid 35,000 per year for the park's maintenance to the Hubbards Hills Trust.

There are three councillors on the Hubbards Hills Trust board: Councillors Andrew Leonard, Jill Makinson-Sanders, and David Wing. On Tuesday Councillor Leonard made a case for increased funding of 10,000 per year, to be increased in line with inflation, in order to fund maintenance costs including litter, grass cutting, and dealing with vandalism.

There was a spirited debate about this. The town council doesn't have a vast budget, so 10,000 would make up a considerable part of it. I was one of the councillors to express reservations about the size of the increase. Councillors Laura Stephenson argued for more transparency about the accounts, asking for an extra meeting for councillors to be able to go over the Hubbards Hills accounts. This request wasn't agreed to.

Accounts for the Hubbards Hills Trust can be accessed at Companies House.

However, the outcome of the vote was for the town council to agree to pay this amount.

How will it be paid for?

The town council is funded by a precept, so it forms part of the council tax levied on local residents. So this increase in funding will lead to an increase in council tax of 2.08 per year for a Band D property (although most homes in Louth aren't in that bracket), bringing it to a proposed precept of 50.65 per year for 2017/18. (The precept is due to be set on Tuesday, 17th January 2017.)

It's noteworthy that this increase in costs can't be funded from council reserves because they are ongoing and to do that would soon deplete the council's budget.

How are the Hills looking?

The day after the meeting I decided to take a look at Hubbard's Hills and see some of the damage that has been done recently. They are showing signs of wear and tear and misuse. Posts have been taken out of the sides of the walkway entrance near the duck pond, which is itself due for dredging. There is a damaged wall in the vicinity that also needs repairing. Maintenance of the toilet block is the Trust's responsibility. The large bridge had to be replaced in 2014 due to vandalism, and further on there is a bridge that has had its posts taken out, replaced, and then has been vandalised some more. In addition, a large tree has recently fallen across the river and will have to be removed, which will cost money. There is also the need to inspect other trees to ensure the park is as safe as possible for visitors.

In all, there are a lot of ongoing costs involved which can't be avoided if Hubbards Hills is to stay enjoyable for all. Nevertheless it is still a place of great natural beauty no matter the season.

I remain conflicted about the council's decision. Hubbards Hills is very important for tourism in Louth, as well as being enjoyed by Ludensians all year round. But it isn't the town's only park, and it isn't the only expense the town council may need to consider paying more towards in future. Clearly the Hills will benefit from a bigger maintenance budget, but the ten grand price tag is very steep.



 


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