Skipton Town Council agrees to raise precept

OPPOSED: Wendy Clark

OPPOSED: Wendy Clark

First published in News

A precept rise of just under five per cent has been agreed by Skipton Town Council to make it more “financially resilient”.

The increase, which represents about 7p per week for the average household – or up from £80.86 per year to £84.71 – will also help towards the planned £90,000 refurbishment of the Coach Street toilets.

At Thursday’s council meeting, members were urged to accept the 4.76 per cent rise – rather than the two per cent rise recommended by officers – to guard the council against future possible reductions in grants by creating a new £10,000 reserve account.

The money would help protect against the possibilities of not receiving a £40,000 parish grant next year from Craven District Council and the likely capping by the government on precept rises.

It would also help the council budget for its planned move into Skipton Town Hall next year and to help pay for grass cutting - if the service was stopped by North Yorkshire County Council.

Deputy leader Councillor Robert Heseltine said it would be prudent for the council to protect itself against possible cuts next year and for its expected move into the town hall.

He said there was a strong indication that large town councils would be capped by central government along with district and county councils on the amount by which they could increase council tax.

He added there was also no guarantee that the parish grant, passed on to the council this year by Craven District Council, would be repeated in 2015.

On top of grant cuts, Coun Heseltine said the town council might have to take on the cutting of grass verges if the county council stopped doing it in 2015-16.

Coun Paul English said he supported investment in the town and it was a good thing that the council was proposing the refurbishment of the Coach Street toilets.

But not everyone was happy with the five per cent rise, including last year’s mayor, Coun Wendy Clark who complained there had been no forewarning of the proposed increased rise.

“I would’ve agree to a 2.04 per cent increase, but not a 4.76 per cent one,” she said.

Nine councillors voted to accept an increase of 4.76 per cent increase, and five voted against.

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