Precept increase must be put into context
sir - I write in response to the letter in last week’s Gazette written by Mr. Simpson of Ilfracombe. He had criticised Ilfracombe Town Council’s decision to increase its precept by around 20 per cent for the forthcoming financial year.
As a town councillor (who happily voted in favour of this, along with around 95 per cent of my peers) I would firstly like to put this figure into context. The annual council tax bill for a Band D property is around �1,500. Of this payment, only �52 comes to Ilfracombe Town Council.
So what Mr Simpson labels a ‘ridiculous’ increase only amounts to an extra �10 per year (or 80p per month for those who pay their council tax monthly!). Even allowing for this increase, this figure still stands favourably when compared to other local towns such as South Molton (approx. �105) and Barnstaple (approx. �68).
While I agree that local authorities should be showing extra prudence during these times of economic difficulty, I would strongly argue that in order to kick-start regeneration from within our own town, Ilfracombe Town Council can be much more influential with an increased precept. The days of sitting on our hands and waiting for investment to come our way have long gone. We should not rely on going cap-in-hand to higher tiers of government in order realise the dreams of our community.
Regeneration should be driven from within our town, not from outside it. So I am proud that Ilfracombe Town Council are making a positive attempt to affect the future of the town we love.
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As for Mr Simpson’s comments about not attending council meetings because of the supposed “rubbish spouted there”, I would urge him to actually attend meetings on a regular basis. Aside from being the foundation of our local democracy, coming along to the meetings would allow Mr. Simpson to see just how much hard work is being put in by our 18 town councillors, and how much harmony and co-operation exists.
Considering some of the extremely poor councils that have served this town in the recent past, the current council (which have been awarded Quality Town Council status) are working hard to restore pride in our town.
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For example, our recently published 10-year strategy for the town shows vision, ambition and has been widely praised by many different organisations and all tiers of government.
Councillor Leo Cooper,