Bigger council tax bills for Axminster residents

Town Council increases its precept by a thumping 22 per cent as it moves to safeguard landmark buildings

AXMINSTER Town Council has approved an inflation-busting 22 per cent budget rise for the coming financial year.

Members agreed on Friday to increase the precept – the town’s share of people’s council tax bills - from the current �110,705 to �135,510, adding an extra �8.36 to the average Band D payer’s annual bill.

The vast majority of the additional money is needed for special projects to maintain local assets, like The Guildhall.

Mayor Andrew Moulding has defended the increase as “sensible”, representing just an extra 16p a week for households.

And Town Clerk Hilary Kirkcaldie said the actual increase in the council’s basic operating costs was only �958.

She continued: “However, in order to ensure that the town’s assets are kept in good order and compliant with modern regulations, a further �31,000 has been included in the budget for special projects.”

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Miss Kirkcaldie said these included �15,000 for priorities at Axminster Guildhall, �7,000 for the Old Courthouse, �1,500 to bring unused land at North Street into allotment use and �3,500 for identified works at the cemetery.

In addition, �1,000 has been allocated towards costs associated with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – reduced from earlier plans to spend �2,500 - and �3,000 towards a traffic survey to provide the necessary factual case for improving traffic movement through the town.

Speaking after Friday’s finance committee meeting Cllr Moulding thanked town councillors for their consideration of the budget and felt that the town had set an extremely sensible precept, which amounted to an increase of just 16p per week for each household.

He said “This sum has reflected the prudent way in which the town council carries out its business and enables the town’s assets to be well-maintained.”

** From next year town and parish councils may have their precepts capped by the government to prevent them imposing large per centage increases – unless these are supported in a local referendum.