Parish council with £2,500 in reserves for grass seed rejects bid to cap council tax
PUBLISHED: 16:03 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:00 14 October 2019
A bid to cap the council tax collected by a parish council has failed.
Broadclyst parish councillor Karl Straw saw his motion to reduce the authority's precept from £233.83 to no more than £160 per Band D household, be rejected by six votes to two.
Parish council chairman Henry Massey said the authority could not vote to 'arbitrarily' slash its precept by one-third, as it would immediately see funding dry up for some services.
Cllr Massey said the population of Broadclyst has increased from 1,000 people to 8,000 people in the last ten years, and the parish council provides services other parish authorities do not.
The vote, taken at Victory Hall on October 7, means Broadclyst remains the fourth most expensive non-unitary parish in the country, and the second most expensive precepting parish in Devon.
Cranbrook is the most expensive precepting parish, due to the maintenance bill for its country park.
Cllr Straw said Broadclyst Parish Council's precept has ballooned by more than 66 per cent in the last five years.
He said: "Broadclyst pays on average £233.83 against the Devon average of £42.20.
"Seaton pays £101.60, Axminster pays £88.64, Sidmouth pays £72.36, Honiton pays £71.08, Exmouth pays £60, and Ottery pays £49.03
"The average East Devon parish charge is £46.55 and in Devon the parishes charge on average is £42.20.
"My motion was to reduce the precept by at least £75 in 2020/21 and to introduce a policy of continued reductions until the parish as charging no more than the average across Devon."
Broadclyst Parish Council currently has £2,500 reserved for grass seeds for its bowling green.
However, Cllr Massey said nothing has been spent on grass seeds this year, and the figure would only be spent in full in a worst-case scenario.
Cllr Massey said Broadclyst has grown significantly from a 'relatively small size' since 2009.
He said: "We have to balance the needs of the people and groups who use the village as well as at the same time ensuring that we are giving good value for money.
"We provide a huge number of services for a parish council and, due to cutbacks in district and county council, have taken on additional services that otherwise would not be provided."
Cllr Massey said the council welcomes the input made from Cllr Straw and will be carefully examining its budget in the next two months.
Cllr Straw said he is planning to request the council set up a people's forum, which will invite residents to discuss what precept they would like to see the authority operate with.