12:00pm Saturday 18th February 2012
By Rene Gerryts
Bridport Town Council has achieved ‘Quality’ status and can now take on more responsibility.
The fact that it is a quality council means it already provides more services than most and they come at a price, councillors heard at their full council meeting.
The comments came as they voted on whether or not to accept a recommendation to raise the council tax from £119.47 to £132.94 for a Band D property.
The increase – of 11.25 per cent across the board – was agreed by councillors.
This would give the council a budget of £445,517.
Council leader Martin Ray said they had three options setting the budget – to have a budget that would see services cut, a 26p-a-week increase on council tax bills that would balance the figures and allow for all current services to continue or an additional 45p on residents’ bills and an extra £20,000 on the books.
Coun Julian May said quite a few residents were not happy about the increase, but fellow councillors defended the rise.
Mayor Coun Dave Rickard said: “It is very clear that as a town council we are being expected by the district and county to take on quite a few of their functions. They are being capped and have a lower rate of increase than we have.
“I see that as us taking on some of their work.
“Therefore it is only natural we have to raise some of the money more locally, which is what a lot of us have been asking for for a long time, almost by the back door we are getting a bit more local taxation and providing the services that go with it.
“People in Bridport have got used to expecting the town council to do things.
“In other towns they don’t expect the town council to do very much and quite often they don’t get very much.
“In Bridport they expect it and we deliver it.
“All the time we are getting requests to do things and we can only respond if we have a healthy budget to do that.”
Coun Ros Kayes said it was important to take advantage of the opportunities offered by ‘localism’.
She said: “The town council has done a phenomenal job in developing skills training centres – the third one is opening on March 9 and two others in the last nine months opened in a recession.
“That is because of the work the town council has done in supporting that community group.”
Councillors voted to accept the increase.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group