SKIPTON'S deputy mayor has claimed residents could be facing a 'worse case scenario' eight percent hike in how much they pay for town council services unless savings are made.

Cllr Peter Madeley claimed at a meeting of the council's finance committee that the council needed to raise £40,000 'just to stand still' and would have to make savings if it was to avoid an increase in its Council Tax precept.

All areas of the town council needed to be scrutinised he said ahead of December's precept setting meeting.

That included staff, the market, Christmas lights and events.

"We have to have a balanced budget, so we will have to look at where we can cut back," he said, adding: "We could be looking at an eight per cent increase in the precept if we don't make any cutbacks."

Cllr Madeley said the four times a week market was one area that needed looking at, and its lease it had with the owners of the now closed House of Frazer store to use the setts in front of the building for market traders.

"(The market) is not sustainable, we have to look at how the market can pay for itself," he said.

Cllr Robert Heseltine agreed, adding that he did not believe ratepayers expected to subsidise it. "This situation is not sustainable. It is very noticeable even on sunny days the number of vacant plots on High Street. "Something really drastic needs to be done. We can't put rents up, but something needs to be done," he said.

Cllr Madeley also suggested a different approach to the Christmas lights, which currently cost £34,000 per year, with half paid for by Skipton BID - which could end early next year unless businesses vote 'yes' for another five year term.

"Maybe we should look at purchasing our own Christmas lights. That would save money," he said.

There was also the Christmas market which Cllr Madeley said had been going on for 'ten to 12 years'.

"We should look at how we do that and how we can cut costs; a lot of councils are cutting out events completely. We don't want to do that, but we need to make savings."

Other areas were staff, public conveniences, and other events such as Sheep Day and Skipton Pride.

He also raised concerns about the church wall at Holy Trinity Church, which the council is responsible for and is being monitored after movement was identified.

"That will be very costly indeed, hundreds of thousands of pounds which will eventually be coming to us," he said.