Proposals for 2.81 per cent are overturned as council decides on a lower increase this year

Ilfracombe Town Council voted last night (Monday) to increase its precept by two per cent this year.

A proposed increase of 2.81 was turned down following an amendment by Councillor Mike Edmunds for two per cent, which passed by eight votes to three, with one abstention.

An earlier amendment for no increase proposed by Netti Pearson was defeated by seven votes to five.

The increase is equivalent to £67.22 for an average Band D property, a rise of £1.32 per year.

In the past two years the council has raised its tax by more than seven per cent.

During his budget presentation, finance chairman Rod Donovan said grants from Government had decreased, with councils facing cuts across the board.

“Clearly with North Devon Council’s budget being reduced so much, they are looking to shut the things that might cost them money,” he said.

He said responsibility for the war memorial and town clock had now passed to the town council and it has also offered to take on public toilets in the town.

‘Picking up’

But he said the new Ropery Road car park had given an income of some £40,000 in the last year and the newly reopened Lantern Centre, recently taken on and refurbished by the council, was expected to be in profit by next year.

“The economy is certainly picking up, there’s a lot of investment going in and we are hoping to do our part to encourage this investment as well,” he added.

‘Drastic reductions’

Mike Edmunds said he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ they were only discussing 2.81 per cent: “We would all like zero council tax this year,” he said.

“We are all facing a budget reduction, at county and district. It’s drastic reductions right across the board and it’s coming from one direction only - central government.”

Not value for money

Two members of the public spoke at the meeting against any proposed increase. Mike Creek of Ilfracombe Trades Union Council said two of our towns’ electoral wards were among the most ‘socially deprived’ wards in the county.

“I am fortunate, I can afford to pay my council tax as things stand. However, there are many people in our town who struggle to live. Any increase in their costs cuts their standard of living.”

Graham Parkhouse also spoke against 2.81 per cent, saying: “I do object that we are not getting our money’s worth. A lot of people out there can’t afford this increase and they will find it difficult.”