Several parishioners complained about spiralling parish charges before the meeting agreed to set the rate at 2.3p per quarter.But the biggest controversy of the evening was left for the charitable donation to the St Clement’s Sports Club.They eventually walked away with £1,000, but only after the Constable, Derek Gray, was accused of acting ‘unconstitutionally’ by trying to peg the donation at £600.Over 40 parishioners attended the meeting which heard that the parish finished the last financial year with a deficit of over £120,000.
This was blamed mainly on welfare charges which accounted for half of parish spending.While rates bills had generally risen by around 15 per cent, Mr Gray said this was necessary to keep the parish in the black.
With a total expenditure of £1.1 million in the previous year, he said that a rise of 0.1 pence per rate from last year was necessary.Mr Gray warned that the reform to the rates system could not be expected earlier than 2005 or 2006, so people had to accept the situation.The Constable introduced the accounts to parishioners, and proposed a rate of 2.3 pence per quarter that would have seen the parish on an even financial keel for the following year.
But he was barraged with complaints from parishioners about their rates bills.They complained that their rates bills had gone up by around 15 per cent, and a lower rate that would have left the parish potentially in the red for part of the year was proposed from the floor.Mr Gray told the audience that rates assessments were the job of a special committee, and that the meeting was not the right time to discuss them.
Last year, he said, the parish had subsidised rates bills by around ten per cent, but they could not go on doing that.After some debate the rate was set at 2.3 pence as per the Constable’s proposal, and the meeting moved on to the charitable donations.
For the first time, the St Clement’s Sports Club asked for money in a bid supported by St Clement resident Senator Len Norman who was out of the Island.Several club members spoke during the meeting and several proposals were made leaving some confusion.
Mr Gray appeared to shun a proposal for a £1,000 donation, but was told he was out of order from the floor.In total the parish spent over £6,000 in donations to 17 charitable groups, including Jersey Brook, The Samaritans and Le Squez Youth Club.