Saffron Walden's 14 per cent council tax increase is 'Good value for money', say councillors

PUBLISHED: 08:59 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 22:07 31 May 2010

ALMOST £80,000 will be added to the Saffron Walden taxpayer s bill to pay for services provided by the town council - but it is value for money, councillors insist. The cost of running Saffron Walden Town Council (SWTC) will increase from last year s £556

ALMOST £80,000 will be added to the Saffron Walden taxpayer's bill to pay for services provided by the town council - but it is value for money, councillors insist.

The cost of running Saffron Walden Town Council (SWTC) will increase from last year's £556,725 to £633,200 in 2010/11.

The huge cost increase of £76,475 - almost 14 per cent - is accounted for by the extra workload taken on by the town council from the district authority.

Some of Saffron Walden's most prized assets, including Jubilee Gardens, the Battle Ditches, Radwinter Road Cemetery, Dorset House Gardens and Bridge End Gardens, which were previously paid for by Uttlesford District Council (UDC), are now the responsibility of the town.

Cllr David Watson said: "We have had to increase the precept for the next financial year because of the amenities we are taking on and the extra three members of staff required to look after them.

"In the long term this will work out as excellent value for money because the town council will be able to run these services cheaper, and better, than the district council.

"People will see an improvement in the running of these facilities in the very near future. For example in the next couple of months we are starting work refurbishing Jubilee Gardens."

Cllr Watson argued that the actual increase in the tax bill for a Saffron Walden resident would be relatively small.

Last year's precept represented about £94 for an average Band D household. This year's increase will see that figure rise to about £106.

The budget was agreed at a full meeting of Saffron Walden Town Council last Wednesday, but it was not a unanimous decision as Liberal Democrat councillors abstained from the vote.

Cllr Richard Freeman said: "We appreciate that the Council is in a difficult position, having been required by their colleagues on UDC to take on responsibility for the town's open spaces. The cost to the ratepayers of Saffron Walden can only increase in future years."

FACTS

Some of things SWTC will spend money on in 2010/11:

£2500 on stationery

£22,000 on Christmas decorations

£10,600 grant to Uttlesford CAB

£19,500 on new and existing CCTV

£4000 on street furniture

£2500 on maintaining the Battle Ditches

£5000 on maintaining the skatepark

How do you think the council should be spending your money? Let us know by emailing editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk

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