12th March 2020

Bradford on Avon Precept 2020

At January’s Full Council meeting, Councillors voted on the Town Council’s budget for the year April 2020 – March 2021, which informs the town’s ‘precept’ – the funds raised for the Town Council’s direct use, allocated from residents’ overall council tax bills.

Over the past year the Town Council has been in discussions with Wiltshire Council over the devolution of various assets and services across the parish. This process will bring them under Bradford on Avon Town Council control and is part of Wiltshire Council’s drive to encourage communities to provide assets and services locally. Managing, funding and delivering these at a local level will give the Town Council much greater opportunities to set standards that meet the needs of residents and visitors alike.

A start has already been made on implementing some of the changes, through preparatory recruitment and system development. The team has been strengthened with the addition of a new Green Spaces Officer and extending the availability of Town Wardens, enabling the Town Council to cover increased service provision and its commitment to environmental schemes following the Climate Emergency declaration in March 2019. This includes the aspiration to develop a ‘green corridor’ through the town to benefit wildlife and increase biodiversity. The acquisition and management of areas such as Barton Farm Country Park, Poulton Meadow and The Strips are key to this strategy.

Other services set to move under Town Council control include street cleansing, further allotments, the cemetery, market, churchyards and grounds maintenance, as well as further play areas, a recreation ground and the Youth & Community building.

This year’s precept increase is expected to cover the full cost of these acquisitions. In addition, the council has managed to limit the increase by investing reserves, and through gains in areas such as revenue generated by the solar panels on St Margaret’s Hall. After discussion, the budget proposal for a precept of £885,590 was accepted which will require an increase in the precept of 17 per cent.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Dom Newton, said:

“Members are aware that this year’s precept increase will place a small additional ask on each household in the town – on average just slightly more than the price of a pint of milk a week. We have, as in previous years, sought to keep that increase to a minimum, aware of other pressures on household budgets.

The increase will directly support places and spaces that the Town Council has been asked to take on, and that it will be seeking to maintain at a standard the town deserves. To do so requires both physical resources and staff to plan and undertake that work. As with many service-oriented organisations, it’s not unexpected that staffing is, once again, the largest single item of expenditure – although showing a marked decrease on previous years as a proportion of the whole budget.

As ever, the Town Council is also grateful to the fantastic teams of volunteers within the town who help to reduce these costs and keep taxation to a minimum.”