Residents look at hike in payments

A TWO per cent rise in council tax has been agreed by Morpeth Town Council.

The authority approved the increase to its precept to fund a largely ‘standstill’ budget.

Projected expenditure is £28,000 up on last year to cover inflation, including additional administration costs of £17,200.

There will be an extra £5,000 to develop a Neighbourhood Plan, £2,000 for the recently-adopted Boundary Drive play area and £4,000 for allotments.

The council had expected to take over Swinney’s and Storey Park playing fields, the changing rooms at Storey Park and, in conjunction with other parishes, the management of Fairmoor Cemetery, but Northumberland County Council has delayed the transfer until 2014.

There were also fears it may have had to find an additional £41,000 following changes to council tax benefit. However, the Government has partially reimbursed principal authorities for the loss and the county council has passed the sum down, warning that no further grants will be given.

Chairman of the town’s Finance and General Purposes Committee David Parker said: “The committee has devoted a great deal of time formulating a budget for 2013/14. It was only in a position two weeks ago to complete its task.

“In consequence, the committee recommends that the council requires Band D council tax payers to find an additional £2.22 — about 4p per week for each household. This increase of two per cent is well below the current rate of inflation and in line with the council’s Medium Term Financial Plan.”