Parish agrees to increase council tax

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PEGSWOOD Parish Council has agreed an increase to its council tax precept to help lessen the burden for the future.

Members voted for a 6.6 per cent rise to £88,890, partly to take into account moves by Northumberland County Council to transfer the responsibility for Pegswood Cemetery and the Welfare Park and Pavilion to the parish.

Changes to council tax benefit come into force in April, which will have an impact on town and parish councils, but to alleviate the financial impact during 2013/2014 the county council has provided a one-off grant.

However, the parish still went ahead with the council tax increase because the grant will not be provided for 2014/15. The rise will limit a potentially greater increase in the future.

Chairman Peter Stonell said: “By not reducing the precept after receiving the grant, we were seeking to future-proof ourselves against the Government using its powers to cap precepts and given that this is a one-off grant, the money would have had to be found next year in any case, making 2014/2015 a potentially very difficult year for precept payers.”

Members welcomed the county’s decision to delay the transfer of the cemetery, park and pavilion until 2014, but the parish will be charged running expenses.

Increases in staff and running costs and an estimated £1,200 to administer the elections in May were also taken into account.

Coun Stonell added: “The transfer of services delay provides us with a better opportunity to learn how things operate and to consider ways in which we can continue to provide these services for less.”