Barnstaple Town Council will raise its portion of council tax and reduce staff as part of a plan for a better Barnstaple. Councillors have agreed to raise its share of the council tax by 25p per week, to £86.68 for a Band D property. That represents an 18.2 per cent hike on last years figure of £73.35. On top of this, staffing numbers will be reduced from 20 to 17 through efficiencies and a greater focus on use of local suppliers for some of its internal service. Cllr Ian Roome, chairman of the councils staff committee, said: Weve looked long and hard at what staff we need to deliver our plan, and weve made some tough but important decisions as a result. I want to thank the staff for their patience during a difficult period of change and for their enthusiasm for our objectives. We have had to say goodbye to a few employees to get the right approach for the future, and we offer our sincere appreciation to those who are leaving us for their service to the local community. The councils vision for the next five years is to make Barnstaple a better place to live, work, visit, and do business, and to be a strong voice for the community. Councillors initial focus is on protecting the town against services that have been reduced or removed as a result of Devon County Councils Tough Choices policy, and on making Barnstaples heritage available to a wider public audience. This will include the town council formally taking over responsibility for roadside green and planted areas from April; a long-term rescue package to protect North Devon Records Office from closure; and refurbishment of the Guildhall. The council is also looking at putting forward options to develop Barnstaple Museum and will close Barnstaple Heritage Centre in March. Town mayor and council chairman Cllr Val Elkins said: This is a challenging but exciting time for Barnstaple and its Town Council. With the larger councils reducing their spending we have had to make some difficult decisions about how we can help to protect services that would otherwise disappear, like the grass cutting and the Records Office. By consulting with the public on their priorities we have produced an ambitious plan that will achieve as much as a small council like ours can deliver.