COLUMNIST: Mike Mendoza on council tax ‘surprise’

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IT IS always good to report good news and when we are living in difficult times, it is always good to hear that we have been saved money.

I had the pleasure of chairing the full council meeting, where the 2014/15 budget was discussed and set. To everyone’s surprise, the leader announced that after three years of setting a zero increase, he would like to reduce the Adur council tax by one per cent.

The reaction from all sides of the chamber was excellent, with absolutely no criticism from any opposition parties. This was an historic occasion for Adur and I am proud to have been involved. There was a recorded vote at the end of the presentation, where the proposal received 100 per cent support from all members present.

Brewers, Hall and Woodhouse are about to launch their seventh Community Chest, where they give out about £16,000 to West Sussex causes. Last year, Adur recipients included the Fishersgate Centre, Electric Storm Youth and the Springboard Project.

Applications are welcome from any voluntary or community organisation or group. Grants could be made in the following areas - youth work and activities, pre-schools, elderly or disabled, health and social care, local arts, conservation and the environment, animal care and local community.

Applications will not be considered from national organisations or those that are profit making or political. You can apply for grants of amounts between £300 and £3,000, or for practical assistance to help you to achieve your aims. Grants could be awarded for equipment, furniture, training, transport, professional assistance or specific project resources. The deadline for applications is Friday, May 10.

Do you remember the ‘good old days’ when kids could go out and play in the streets? The 2014 Adur Play Streets scheme is open for communities to organise their own street closures and have some fun on the streets they live in.

The scheme, inspired by the Playing Out project, originally started in Bristol by two mums, is a resident-led activity which allows children to play on their own street by closing the road to through traffic for three hours. Residents will have car access.

The Adur Play Scheme ran as a pilot last year and it was a resounding success, with more than 15 streets taking part and taking advantage of safe play in the roads they live in.

One of the main benefits of the scheme is getting residents and families to work together and be active in their own streets. Temporary Play Streets is an easy and manageable project for small communities to do. The communities team is on hand to support anyone wanting to organise their own play street session, especially the first one. Residents can now apply for up to 12 dates in 2014, with flexibility on the dates and days they choose.

I know there was a warning in last week’s Herald, but please still watch out for white lumps that look a bit candle wax being washed up on our beaches. It is likely to be congealed and rancid palm oil.

It smells rotten but dogs seem to like it and will often eat it if given the chance. It may make them very ill. Pieces are still being removed by our cleansing teams but there are reports of ill dogs being taken to vets after being on the beach.

Are you aware that Adur Council has a residents’ panel that officers and members use to consult with, invite to events and engage with on council services?

If members are invited to take part in a survey, they are sent a link to an online survey, which is received, completed and submitted online via the Adur website. The council aims to consult with members no more than three times per year but members may receive invites to other events and engagements.