Towns set two per cent tax rise

A two per cent rise in Council Tax charges has been proposed by Morpeth and Ponteland town councils.

The authorities both set their precepts in recent weeks as part of the budget process.

In Morpeth the increase will represent a rise of £2.19 for Band D households to £111.80 a year for the town council’s share of the bill.

It follows a year-long budget review, prompted by Northumberland County Council’s decision to discontinue a housing benefit compensation grant of £42,000 to the authority.

The review aimed to absorb the loss, while avoiding any reduction in services by identifying cost savings, income potential and possible efficiencies.

Identified expenditure for the year includes £14,000 for repairs and maintenance of assets, such as play areas and community centres, and £6,000 for Morpeth Town Team to progress economic projects.

The usual county council contribution of £5,000 towards management of toilet facilities was taken out of the budget as it is currently reviewing such expenditure.

Community centre hire fees will rise in line with inflation, and discounts for charities have been standardised at 25 per cent.

Coun David Parker said: “The town council is a community leader and a provider of services, both of which impact on our budget.”

Ponteland Town Council agreed to a budget that will see Band D households pay £68.25 in 2015/16 – up from £66.91 this year.

There will be an average of a three per cent rise across the fees and charges in respect of Prestwick Cemetery. This follows a period of two years without any increase being applied to these charges.

It was noted at a recent meeting that these numbers may need to be further revised if the county council increased its fees.

In addition, as in previous years, a £1 increase across all allotment fees was agreed.

A figure of £14,983 has been made available for project (wish list) items. An evaluation of wish list items is being carried out and it is hoped that a meeting can be held in the near future to determine which projects will be agreed for 2015/16.

The county council and Northumbria Police are still to set their precepts.