Town council increases precept to fund events, improvements and staff training
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Weston Town Council has agreed on a small rise in precept to fund community events and town enhancement studies, public arts grants and restore the staff training budget.
At a town council meeting on Monday, the authority set its budget of £2,612,270 for the next financial year, up from £2,567,270 in 2020/2021.
This means people living in a band D property will pay £100.11 - compared to £98.37 last year - for town council services from April, a rise of £1.74 annually.
Councillors agreed on a joint proposal between the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties to add an extra £45,000 to the budget. This will be used to restore the staff training budget, worth £20,000, increase the community events budget by £10,000, and add £5,000 to the community services budget for public art grants.
The budget increase will also boost the council’s strategy and planning budget by £10,000 to fund feasibility studies for a community centre, Silica information point and Marine Lake enhancements, as well as Grove Park Toilets, making one Weston park suitable for people with disabilities, seafront lighting enhancements, a new allotment site and plant nursery.
In addition, the proposal also suggests using the surplus from this financial year, worth £30,000, to create earmarked reserves to fund a street art festival in Weston, at £20,000, during 2021/22 - Covid-19 restrictions dependent - and to put aside the provision of £10,000 for a Showers On The Beach event.
Cllr Ian Porter, who represents Worlebury, said it is ‘ludicrous' to expect people in town to pay for another precept increase and argued why the £45,000 was needed when the council had not spent last year’s funding.
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Councillor for Bournville, Catherine Gibbons, said the ‘minimal’ increase in precept is for ‘the right reasons’ and for a ‘very small amount of money’ which will offer a light at the end of the tunnel as we come out of the pandemic.
Cllr Helen Thornton, who represents Uphill, said: “We proposed a very small precept increase to, in the words of the town council strategy, ensure our town becomes a more vibrant, prosperous, cleaner, greener, safer and inclusive place for everyone to enjoy.
“For three pence a week, we believe this is great value.”