Bold move to minimise rise in council tax

A VILLAGE authority has taken the difficult economic climate into account when setting its Council Tax figure for next year.

Pegswood Parish Council had initially looked at raising the precept by about six per cent from £82,500 to £87,500.

But at its December meeting, members decided to make further savings to reduce this amount to £83,399, which means residents will be paying 1.09 per cent extra in 2012/13.

These included a decrease in the money spent on floral maintenance as Northumberland County Council has increased its weeding in the village and the Pegswood Community Action group will be planting bulbs and shrubs, which are easier to preserve.

And now that the Patton Way play area has been removed, the parish council decided to break from its lease with the unitary authority next year, saving just over £500.

Councillors were also expecting to have to deal with the transfer of some services from the county council, such as the cemetery, but the process is taking longer than expected.

Chairman Simon Willcox said: “I believe we can reduce the budget a little further because it’s a tough time for everyone at the moment and we don’t want residents to pay a noticeable amount more than this year.”

A total of £41,805 will be spent on administration and staff costs, £15,244 on parks and open spaces and £5,950 on maintaining street furniture such as benches, litter bins, bus shelters and notice boards.

It has allocated £11,000 for grants, £5,000 to a repairs and renewals fund, £4,400 for village projects such as the community garden in John Street and £3,000 to the allotments. It is also aiming to collect £2,300 income from sponsorship for schemes and competitions.

Deputy Clerk Kevin Cassie said: “Having an increase in line with inflation, about five per cent, may have been acceptable but the councillors have made a bold move to approve a minimal rise.

“This year we have used reserves to help with the budget, but we didn’t want to keep dipping into them otherwise we would run out, so we have looked to make savings where possible without impacting on our key services.

“And when community groups make a grant application for capital costs, we are advising them to try the Potland Burn fund as we can only help with revenue costs.”