Town leaders freeze council tax

PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 January 2011

Archant

WESTON residents will not be hit by a rise in town council tax after the authority decided to freeze its budget for the coming year.

The town council had been looking at raising its precept by 5.66 per cent but has managed to shave more than £66,000 off its proposed budget.

This means that there will be a zero per cent increase in the authority’s portion of the council tax bill.

And Band D householders will actually pay 0.77 per cent less in town council tax this year because there are more homes in the patch.

The precept was decided at the authority’s full council meeting on Monday evening, where one resident spoke out against the proposed increase.

He said the town council had increased its budget by 55 per cent in the ‘last few years’ and he was expecting a reduction.

Councillor Keith Morris, speaking on behalf of the council’s ruling Conservative party, proposed to reduce the draft precept by removing nearly £40,500 from The Blakehay theatre bar budget and transferring more than £26,000 from general reserves to spend on other costs.

He said: “The Blakehay theatre bar will be advertised and this will hopefully lead to an independent operator paying us a rent.”

Cllr Morris also proposed to charge 50 pence entry at the water park for children from 10am-4pm during four months in the summer and 20 pence for using the toilets.

Several councillors congratulated the Conservative group for finding the savings, including John Ley-Morgan, but he said he still had ‘concerns over the budget’.

He told the meeting that the authority should have ‘hung out’ for a bigger contribution from North Somerset Council in relation to North Somerset Museum.

He added: “The millstone this facility will place round the neck of this council means there will be no wiggle room for some years to come.”

He also said that charging 50 pence for entry at the water park was ‘absolutely ludicrous’.

Cllr Ley-Morgan suggested charging £1 as a ‘realistic’ figure because VAT was included in the price and the council would only receive 42 pence per entry otherwise.

Councillor Mark Canniford agreed and said running costs at the water park would be at least £30,000 and the council needed to make sure it could invest in new equipment at the facility every three or four years.

Members voted in favour of freezing the precept and increasing the water park charge to £1.

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