At Monday (20 January) evening’s meeting of the Town Council, councillors approved the setting of next year’s precept – an increase of 5.76% over this year’s level.
For a Band D Property the annual precept will be £206.37, an increase of £11.24 over this year.
Councillor Andy Ross, chair of the Finance & Policy Committee noted that the increase reflects general inflation, particularly in wages and salaries, but importantly includes some of the services that the Town Council has taken responsibility for such as the Youth Centre as well as maintenance of the two public toilets.
“We are very busy” he added, “Costs reflect the sort of things we are now involved in. Christmas Lights, Marlborough in Bloom, CCTV and now the tourist initiative, which is designed to bring business and help boost the economy of Marlborough.”…”All these come at a cost.”
Councillor Ross also pointed out that devolution of services from Wiltshire Council isn’t significantly reflected in this year’s precept but will in the following year. Wiltshire Council will be handing many aspects of its responsibility down to the Town Council, each with a cost which is currently borne by the County, but once devolved will become a cost to the Town, assuming that each process is deemed necessary to retain.
Services to be devolved include street cleaning, grass cutting, Markets, taking on more assets (land and buildings), looking after all of trees/hedges on (currently) Wiltshire Council land and verges.
Residents and the Town Council will have to decide whether such services are actually necessary, although much of which is being handed down is pretty basic and can’t be avoided, but the Town will have to find the money to keep these services managed.
Whilst Marlborough residents will have to bear the cost of these services as part of a further (significant) precept increase, the Council Tax bill commanded by Wiltshire won’t come down, we will all get less for more.