The Quarry Park in Shrewsbury was where I took my first steps as a toddler, where I played football, where I tried and so often failed to flirt with girls, and where (to my eternal shame) I celebrated A-Level results helped along by plastic cups filled with a strange 90's concoction known as 20-20.

"The Quarry" has always played an important part in the lives of anyone who has lived in Shrewsbury for any length of time.

But I never knew - or even stopped to think about - how it was funded or maintained. It was just always there.

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The fact is, this vast 28 acre site with it's tree-lined avenues and immaculate gardens, is paid for by the lowest and least wealthy tier of local government, the Town Council.

It's a big, expensive job for a body which gets nowhere near the income of County or CIty Halls. But that's not normally a problem because the park can pay for itself. Food and drink stalls throughout the year, and big, high-profile summer events generate the income which can keep things going.

Then, along came Covid-19.

With the events cancelled, and the ice-cream and coffee vans banished, there was no income from the Park. If this were a private business, it might try to mothball to get by; close the gates, furlough all the staff, apply for a Government loan and a business rates holiday, and look to reopen when the virus is gone. But it can't.

It can't close because it's a public open space. We still expect our daily exercise, so the parks need to be open and maintained. All that money still needs to be spent, even though the usual income has vanished.

It can't take a break from paying business rates because that is only an option for small businesses. Not public bodies.

And it can't get any more financial help from Government because Government says it doesn't have the power to fund smaller councils like that.

Cancelled events means financial losses for councils. Credit: ITV News Central

Shrewsbury Town Council's problem is shared by more than a hundred other town and parish councils, which have reported cash flow problems caused by Coronavirus. And not all of them have such expensive pieces of civic life to pay for.

They will have lost money because local fitness classes or dance shows are not hiring the village hall (but these high-maintenance buildings still need to be maintained).

They will have lost money because football, rugby and cricket clubs are not using the playing fields, so not paying fees (but the vast fields still need to be mown and kept secure).

They will have lost money because groups have stopped hiring out rooms in the Community Hub (but the business rates on those properties still need to be paid).

The irony is that in recent years, many councils have been told they need to stop relying on the tax they get as part of the local Council Tax precept, and get innovative. They have been encouraged to spend a lot of money on big community buildings so they can generate their own income by hiring out conferencing space or letting retail units to cafe franchises. But those who feel they have taken a risk by doing the right thing, are those who now find themselves struggling as their customers are locked down.

Credit: ITV News Central

There is a call from some for Government help. In response, ministers say they have already handed out £3.2bn to local councils to help them through the Covid crisis. But that misses the point that this money has been handed to the principal councils (county and city), not the smaller ones. When parish and town councils ask if there is any left over for them, they are told "no" - the grant barely covers what is needed by the bigger authorities (who, after all need to deal with social care, schools and health and safety among a long list of responsibilities).

But the council clerks and chairs I have spoken to aren't asking for lorry-loads of £50 notes. The issue which comes up again and again is business rates. To them it seems strange that the owner of a small shop is exempt from business rates during the crisis, but public bodies paying for public facilities are still hit by the bill. This money would eventually find its way back to local government in any case, so this would seem to be a way to stem the cash flow crisis.

I asked the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government specifically if they might consider a break on business rates for small parish councils. I have not yet received a reply.

One day this crisis will be over. Local parks and village halls will still exist. Even those councils with the worst cash problems will survive... They are, after all, public bodies, not businesses. But some of the buildings, facilities and services - some of those local gems which we have taken for granted as part of our lives for decades - could suffer.