Residents face rise in council tax

A SMALL increase in council tax is coming the way of Morpeth residents.

Morpeth Town Council has agreed to put up its precept by two per cent for 2012/13, although members say the public will benefit from the main reason for this rise.

A total of £6,000 has been allocated for the development of a neighbourhood plan, with another £5,000 to follow in 2013/14.

Under the Localism Act, authorities can work with residents, businesses and landowners to produce policies for development and use of land.

And the new regulations allow this group to permit projects that they want to see built, in full or in outline, without the need for planning applications, as well as identify areas where they want and do not want new projects to be built.

As Morpeth is one of the first councils in the Northumberland to work on a plan, it will receive officer support from the county council.

Coun David Parker said: “We are embracing the neighbourhood planning concept with enthusiasm and we think £11,000 is a reasonable estimate for the costs involved over the next two years.

“For the first time, Morpeth residents will have a real say in future local planning policies.”

A total of £1,500 will be spent on promoting projects, such as the public loo scheme where people can use the toilet facilities at participating businesses, and the authority will take on the maintenance of the war memorial in Carlisle Park at an annual cost of £750.

Among the increases to existing budgets is a rise of £1,000 in bloom activities as the town will be part of Britain in Bloom this summer and an extra £200 for an expanded Civic Awards.

The budget has gone up by £16,200 to £595,460, but a grant of £5,000 from the county council to help improve and maintain the public toilets in Carlisle Park and next to The Terrace car park and money from reserves means the precept will increase by £10,410.

The average size household, Band D, will pay an extra £1.92 between April 2012 and April 2013.

All members voted in favour apart from Coun Derek Thompson, who abstained.

He said: “There is a lot of good work and actions I agree with in the budget, but I have always been a strong advocate of subsidising community centres as much as possible and so I don’t agree with the rent increases at our two centres (Storey Park and St James).

“Therefore, I can’t vote in favour of this budget.”