IT would be a ‘sad day’ if Craven Council stopped looking beyond its statutory duties and just collected bins and dog waste, heard councillors at a meeting which recommended a £5 increase in council tax.

Responding to a suggestion at last week’s Policy Committee that the council ‘rein in a bit’, Conservative leader Councillor Richard Foster said it was important that the authority was aspirational and added that no one wanted to see the district ‘wither away.’

Cllr Mark Wheeler (Ind) had pointed to the council’s budget consultation in which more than 75 per cent of respondents supported either maintaining existing levels of spending on discretionary services or introducing fees or charges.

He also pointed out that 54 per cent of people said they would be prepared to accept a two per cent increase in council tax - the lowest percentage in four years, while around 41 percent said they would accept a £5 increase - also the lowest in four years.

“With the uncertainty ahead, are we being too ambitious with our discretionary services. Maybe we need to rein in a bit and think about the services that we are obliged to provide, and think about them first,” he said.

But Cllr Foster said:”We don’t want Craven to wither. We could leave things like Skipton Town Hall, but we need to move forward and invest in the area. We could just sit back as a district council and just empty bins and in the future we might have to rein back, but at the moment we are balancing the budget and keeping things going and I think that is really important for Craven.”

Cllr Foster added that the Tour de Yorkshire, which will see Skipton hosting a start of the four day event, would bring people into the whole of Craven. The event will cost the council around £180,000, £125,000 of which is to come out of the North and West Yorkshire Business Rates Pool, councillors were told last week.”If finances do get worse, we will have to stop delivering, and I think that would be a very sad,” he said.

Deputy leader, Cllr Simon Myers, agreed it would be sad for the whole of Craven if the council stopped being aspirational. Everyone was aware of its demographic and the council wanted to help young families live and work in the Dales.

“We have attracted huge amount of funding because we invested in this and the day we stop doing that and think only about collecting bins and dog waste will be a sad day, because no one else will do it,” he said.

“Being a councillor is not just about paying lip service, but taking the decisions that we think are the right for the district.”