‘We may have to be brave on council tax’ Midhurst warned

Midhurst Library ENGSUS00120131022140125

Midhurst Library ENGSUS00120131022140125

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In a bid to save council tax payers in Midhurst from another big increase next year, town councillors are tightening their belts.

The first draft of their budget for next year looked set to see a rise of 27p per week for an average council tax payer in the town - representing a percentage rise of 18.71 per cent.

But in the wake of a hefty hike this year = partly to pay for improvements to the council’s new home at the Old Library and to invest in state-of-the-art Christmas lights shortly to be unveiled - councillors are anxious not to hit council tax payers with another big rise: “We have to be mindful after last year’s big increase,” chairman Mark Purves told fellow members of the council.

But vice chairman John Quilter warned they may have to bite the bullet in future as Chichester District and West Sussex County Councils continued to pull back resources: “We are going to have to pick up some of the slack,” he said.

“Because parish councils are not capped on their council tax, they think they can slide responsibilities onto us and withdraw services we feel are valuable. It is going to fall on us to be brave in the future and stand up to an increase in council tax which could be more than we would like to see.”

In a bid to ease the tax burden councillors looked at their ‘worst case scenario’ first draft budget and decided to scale back some of the £25,000 they had hoped to spend on new projects.

They are to carry out a full survey of the cemetery lodge to identify problems and prioritise repair work. They have removed funding for new equipment at Carron Lane recreation ground until a full survey of the area is completed. Only limited work will be carried out on the skatepark to ensure the competition can go ahead next year and grant funding will be sought for other projects.

Town councillors will be bringing back the draft budget for a further discussion before it is finalised.

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