Barnstaple Town Council has agreed to increase its council tax for the year ahead as it steps up its efforts to maintain the town.

A full council meeting on Monday saw councillors agree a budget of £781,449.

The increase means Band D properties will pay £110.16 to the town council, an increase of £11.35 on the previous year, or an extra 22p per week.

The council has cited a number of reasons for the increase, including the cutting of verges, the upkeep of planted areas, floral displays, and maintenance of footpaths, all of which ensuring the town looks tidy.

Money will also go towards the upkeep of the Guildhall, as well as supporting local services such as Age Concern, the North Devon Records Office and Citzens Advice.

Mayor of Barnstaple, Councillor Ian Roome, said the council was asking for more so the town ‘remains a great place to live’. He also felt the town council offered a great service for its 26,000 residents.

He said: “Barnstaple Town Council is the closest council to the local community, and we have over the last few years had to take on more services from the larger councils as they face cuts to their budgets.

“Residents told us they wanted more grass cutting and we have a duty to look after our heritage buildings such as the Guildhall.

“As with all organisations we face rises in inflation, increases in contract costs and as residents we are rightly demanding more so that the town, we live in remains a great place to live.”

The increase has been met with dismay elsewhere though. Ilfracombe and District Trades Union Council secretary Mike Creek said union members living in Barnstaple had voiced their concerns.

“Barnstaple Town Council will have increased their council tax precept by over 50 per cent over the past five years. This at a time when local tax payers see their bills rising at a considering increase with services being cut back each year,” he said.

“Band D council tax payers living in North Devon will see bills coming through their letter box during March at nearly £200 per month. Many residents will find this situation very difficult, leading to a lower standard of living.”