Councils say they are being squeezed by cuts as bills look set to increase

It looks increasingly likely that people in North Devon and Torridge will be facing a hike in their council tax bills this year.

Both district councils and parish councils are facing difficult decisions as they try to maintain services with budgets slashed by the Government.

Devon County Council’s increase could be almost four per cent – it has voted to take the Government offer of an extra two per cent to help pay for adult social care.

Barnstaple Town Council has increased its share by 18.2 per cent – a rise from £73.35 to £86.68 a year for a Band D property.

In Fremington, the precept will rise by 15 per cent, and by two in Ilfracombe. There will be no increase in South Molton and Bideford is proposing a 3.94 per cent rise.

Barnstaple Heritage Centre has become one of the first casualties and is set to close at the end of March as the town council aims to protect services in the town and revise its heritage provision.

North Devon Council (NDC) will set its budget on Tuesday, February 2, and Torridge District Council on Monday, February 1, but both are likely to be facing tough choices to balance the books.

NDC executive member Rodney Cann said he believed a hike in tax was ‘inevitable’ if the council was to continue providing frontline services.

Police and fire authority members will meet early next month to set their share of the council tax.