Councillors agree tax precept at full meeting on Monday

Barnstaple Town Council has agreed to increase its council tax by five per cent for the year ahead.

A full council meeting on Monday saw councillors agree the budget for the forthcoming year, setting its precept – the amount raised in council tax – to £672,751.

The increase means Band D properties will pay £98.81 to the town council, an increase of £4.24 on the previous year - equating to an extra 8.2p per week.

The council cited a number of reasons for the increase including the cost of town council elections in 2019, as well as an increase to roadside maintenance and funding for heritage-related activities and events.

Mayor of Barnstaple, Councillor Julie Hunt, said: “The town council has taken on a lot of additional responsibilities in the last few years, and this is continuing at a time when financial support that we have relied on from other councils is reducing dramatically.

“I think the public can see the benefit of our work – just look at the improvements to our roadside areas as one example – and people are more willing to pay a little extra if they can see what we’re doing with the money.”

The council has also pledged to increase funding for community organisations, and has cited a reduction in support from county and district councils and a rise in inflation as additional factors for the increase.

Stuart Upcott, chairman of Barnstaple Town Council’s finance and general purposes committee, said: “We’ve tried very hard to keep the increase in council tax to a minimum by reducing the amounts we spend on the ‘back office’.

“The prices we pay are increasing though, and our services are expanding.

“A survey carried out before Christmas suggested that residents do think we should be doing more, and that they’re prepared to pay a bit extra for that.

“The figure that councillors have agreed is their view of the right balance of all of these things.”