Budget and bin charges are big blow to churches

I READ with some interest Peter Dutton’s letter (News Guardian, April 19) concerning the proposed charge being introduced of £20 per brown bin for collection next year.

I am sure the council will be looking at the mess that Newcastle City Council has found itself in concerning the imposition of the same charge.

It makes a mockery of recycling and composting and means that people will cram their green bins with garden waste alongside their household rubbish.

Surely it will cost more to collect the fees and police the scheme than it would to continue to do it.

At Saint Paul’s in Whitley Bay our churchyard is an amenity space for the community to use and enjoy under the Open Spaces Act 1906.

It is supposed to be maintained by North Tyneside Council but we find it difficult because of lack of council funding to have much done apart from the grass cutting.

The council does not have the resources to keep the churchyard as it should be kept. We have trouble even getting the fixed bins emptied.

We are as creative as we can be and as a congregation struggle hard to keep the churchyard a pleasant and safe place to be.

We encourage people to come in to sit quietly when the weather is good and may be eat a sandwich.

We have help from time to time from the reparation team who are carrying out community service.

In addition, members of our congregation and their families try their best to keep this vast space tidy and encourage wildlife and bio diversity.

To help us do this we are grateful to have six brown bins from North Tyneside Council.

I do not think we can pay £120 per year from our church bank account to have these emptied for something that we are doing off our own back, which is the council’s responsibility.

Churches up and down the country are also feeling the pinch in dealing with repairs, maintenance and approved alterations.

Not many people realise that it is down to individual congregations to pay for all of the works to their churches, which are often listed buildings.

Churches are responsible for 45 per cent of the country’s Grade I listed buildings.

We are custodians for the future and anything that we do have to be with the highest level of workmanship with expensive materials and applications.

George Osborne has decided to withdraw the Listed Places of Worship Scheme (LPWS) from parishes.

This meant that church treasurers could claim zero VAT on certain works and will no longer be able to do so.

Even claims on spending where 20 per cent VAT is paid and then application made for the reclaim of this tax, it is cash limited so St Paul’s recently only received between half and three quarters of its claim for works completed in the past few months.

Parishes and congregations are struggling hard to raise funds to do these works, keep parishes vibrant and this is a double whammy from the national budget.

Douglas Hurd has said “The church has, on the whole, a pretty raw deal and this is just one example of it.”

If you feel strongly about this matter, please write or e-mail your MP and ask them to vote against this measure within this year’s budget.

SANDRA GRAHAM

Churchwarden

Saint Paul’s

Whitley Bay