Penarth Town Council has taken the unprecedented step today of issuing a press release to announce that the town’s council-tax-precept will rise in 2017/18 by an inflation-busting 4.96% – [way in excess of the current rate of inflation which is 1.2%].
In Tuesday night’s budget committee meetings, councillors had approved a report which stated that the “proposed budget for 2017/18 has been uplifted by £77,829 from the £670,406 to £748,235″ . [an increase of 11.60%].
There has not yet been a meeting of the full council to consider the budget proposals of its key committees [ see PDN http://tinyurl.com/jfkkmy6on ]. The full council is not due to meet until January 19th to ratify the committee decisions.
In its statement today , the council does not detail the £12,000 of budget cuts it agreed on Tuesday night – particularly in respect of the Summer Festival and Christmas Festival . The statement says only that the proposed changes “involve redesigning Christmas and Summer festival events and reallocating resources to improve various elements.”
The leader of the council Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) had also told the Leisure Committee on Tuesday night that the council’s Late Night Shopping event was being dropped. He said ” We feel it is an experiment which probably isn’t worth repeating at the moment – so that’s another saving”.
In today’s statement the council says only that “The Town Council will be happy to support the event via its website advertising at Christmas 2017” – which implies there will be no financial support coming from the council . It had been agreed to hold the event two weeks later than the 2014 and 2015 events – but that arrangement appeared to have been forgotten about by the time this Christmas rolled around.
In Tuesday night’s meeting Cllr Anthony Ernest (Conservative Plymouth Ward) said this was the first time he had ever seen a figure of over £1 million in the council’s estimates. This was “big expenditure for a town council” – he said
He also criticised the council’s convention of referring to the increase in precept in relation to “average Band-D” property. Cllr Ernest said there were comparatively few “Band D” properties in Penarth. “The reality is quite considerably different with properties extending up to the “Bands G,H and I” . In areas like Penarth the actual amount charged to occupiers was he said “quite substantially more” than the Band D figure quoted.
Today’s press release also says Penarth Council is to consider getting into debt to “trigger the improvement of services and facilities to the people of Penarth”. To pay for what it calls “significant investment”, and other unspecified future developments, it may consider taking out a “public works loan” repayable over 30 years . It says that the Town Precept [the segment of council tax which is paid to Penarth Council] would “underwrite the loan repayments”.
The council also says “ Consultations with the community of Penarth will be undertaken to evaluate if this is what the people of Penarth want to enhance our town now and for future generations.” More information is available from Emma Boylan, Town Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org