Town council votes for a seven per cent rise this year.
ILFRACOMBE Town Council has climbed down from proposals to increase its council tax by 16 per cent and settled for a figure less than half that.
Councillors voted at an extraordinary meeting last night (Monday) to increase the council tax precept by 7.34 per cent, which means a Band D property will now pay £61.33 for the town council portion of the tax, an increase of £4.20.
At the beginning of the meeting a proposal was on the table for a 16.18 per cent increase – or £66.38 – which councillors said was necessary to pay for the running costs it would incur when the council took overt the Lantern Centre.
Mike Creek of Ilfracombe Trades Council had addressed the council at the start of the meeting and told councillors that if they voted for a 16 per cent rise they should be ‘thoroughly ashamed of themselves’.
He said many had not had a pay rise for the past three years, while the council had increased its precept and the cost of food and living continued to rise.
“I remind councillors that two of our local electoral wards, Ilfracombe Central and Ilfracombe West are counted as the two most socially deprived wards in the county with Ilfracombe West not too far behind. Socially deprived means many people living in these wards have a quality of life that is ‘substandard’.”
The debate centred on the Lantern – Cllr Rod Donovan, finance chairman, said last year’s consultation had seen a majority of people wanting the council to keep the centre for the town, but money had to be set aside for a ‘worst case scenario’ to cover costs.
He also said there were other constraints on the budget, including the reduced precept grant form North Devon Council, plus £90,000 including loan repayments for the bus station and loss of rent to the Ilfracombe Centre with the withdrawal of Hennessy Marketing, parking enforcement officers and Pathfinder.
In the end a revised proposal was agreed to reduce the precept, with £20,000 to be taken from council reserves to cover any Lantern costs.