Totnes Town Council sets precept
At a meeting of Totnes Town Council on Monday 7th January 2019 the budget for 2019/20 was set at £514,040. This figure is an increase of £45.35 per year, £0.87p per week on the average Band D property.
The increase takes into account a grant from Paige Adams Trust of £105,000 for rate abatement and an expected spend from the Town Council reserves of approximately £36,000. These actions have been taken to limit the increase as much as possible whilst still proceeding with essential assets improvements works and investing significantly in the appearance of the town. The public realm improvements planned are in direct response to the Community Budgeting process in 2017 which identified the community's wish to smarten up the town and invest to improve rather than continue with austerity measures.
Some of the projects agreed include:
- Refurbishment of the older building adjoining the Civic Hall to bring the space back into use and develop the Civic Hall hiring potential.
- Significant investment in the Market Square area to improve the appearance and usability of the space.
- Continuation and development of the 'Visit Totnes' tourism brand and extended opening period for the Visitor Information office.
- Continued funding for Caring Town and Citizens Advice to provide support and professional advice to more vulnerable members of the community.
- Payment of agreed funding to the Skate Park project.
- Continuation of the Arts and Culture project - bringing year round events to the Town to provide enrichment for residents.
- New Community Grants Scheme for local groups and projects.
- Paying SHDC to delay Pay on Entry installation in Totnes public toilets.
- Significant investment in the public realm including:
- funding for Totnes Gardens
- paying for year round weeding (and then composting) of open spaces
- investment in the Collapark play area
- investment in Bridgetown in conjunction with 'Bridgetown Alive'.
- picnic tables on Vire Island
- potential investment in Steamer Quay in terms of seating/accessibility
- improved signage at the key entry points to the Town
- 'Tidy Totnes' project being rolled out to all local businesses
Cllr Judy Westacott MBE said 'While it may be disappointing to some residents that our precept is to be increased, it is to ensure there will be no massive hike in future years and to ensure that the services that are important to the town can still be delivered'.
Catherine Marlton, Town Clerk, said 'Councillors were faced with a very difficult decision when setting the 2019/20 budget. South Hams District Council and Devon County Council are facing huge budgetary pressures and some services traditionally provided are facing cuts. The Town Councillors felt it was essential to protect Totnes by coming up with proposals to improve the appearance of the town, progress new projects and start a grants process to enable local groups to continue doing all the great work that makes Totnes such a unique place to live, work and visit. This decision should ensure that the Council does not need to increase the precept more than Retail Price Index for the next few years and will also cover the loss of the Council Tax Relief Grant from South Hams District Council from 2020/21'