At the meeting of the Town Council on Thursday 10th December, members considered the budget demands for 2021/22.

This year, more than any, it was a very difficult decision to make.  Generally, when considering the budget pressures the Council can offset much of its expenditure from the income it generates.  Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19 has created uncertainty around the income for 2021/22 to deliver local services that the council must manage.  The Council must also plan to support its community and help the town to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

During the meeting members recognised the importance of protecting the existing services provided by the council, and how important they will be in helping the town to recover.  Many residents will be familiar with the obvious services the town council provides, like the public conveniences, CCTV, allotments, street entertainment, events at the Civic Hall, the indoor and outdoor markets, Christmas lights and the funding of our beautiful bedding and hanging baskets.   But there are also hidden services that will be essential in the town’s recovery including over £72,000 in grants and contributions to voluntary and community groups as well as marketing, advertising and tourism resources to help promote the town, its traders and everything the town has to offer, all of which will be key to supporting the community and its recovery.

The Clerk, Samantha Roberts commented “It was essential that members approved the proposed budget and precept, by not doing so there would have been significant risks to the levels of general reserve funds held by the council during 2021/22 and the ability to continue delivering the existing services.  Although it was a very difficult decision members accepted and understood the advice of myself and our internal auditor to ensure sufficient funds are held, and not to rely on generating income during 2021 as the pandemic continues.”

The Town Council is asking its residents to help protect the existing services by paying an additional £1 per household per week.

The Town Council sets an annual precept to meet its budget demands which is collected as part of the Council Tax.  In 2020 this cost a Band D taxpayer £122.66 per year and in 2021 this will increase to £174.79. This is an increase of £52 over 12 months, just £1 per week.   This extra £1 per week will ensure the delivery of services throughout 2021 which members hope will aid in the recovery of the town after the pandemic.

The Clerk, Samantha Roberts added “the consequences of not increasing the precept for 2021/22 could have resulted in more difficult decisions by the town council in considering which services it could no longer deliver.  I believe members have made the right decision to put the town council in a position to support the community it serves.  It is also possible that once normal business resumes the town council can look to reduce the precept in future years or reduce some of its fees and charges for the benefit of residents”.