Petworth precept set to increase next year

Petworth Town Council
Petworth Town Council

PETWORTH town councillors have agreed to a 50 per cent increase to their precept for the next year.

The average Band D tax payer will pay around £60 a year, up from around £40 for the Petworth slice of the council tax cake.

The precept will be £81,800 – up from £52,543 the previous year.

Other major items include the town council clerk’s salary at £20,000 from some £13,300. Another £2,000 has been set aside for the local election.

Alan Copus is vice chairman of the council and chairman of the finance and planning committee. He said: “This year’s budget is almost entirely spent on the day to day costs to maintain existing services and support for them.

“There is no capacity for any significant expenditure on new or replacement equipment and services. The council’s existing financial reserves are virtually all committed to provision of the very important neighbourhood plan.

“The council is embarking on a five year plan to improve the town’s services and facilities. The detail and phasing is still to be decided but for 2015/16 (which is year one of the plan) it is clear we need to make early replacement and upgrading of both the Rosemary Gardens and Hampers Green play areas.

“Additional money is required to top up the funds which Chichester District Council hold for provision of the long-awaited skate-park – once a site has been confirmed.

“Traffic is a well-known problem for Petworth and we need to get some professional advice on identifying and scoping what options might be available to help. Repairs are required to the war memorial and although we will get some grant aid towards this, we have to provide additional funds.

“Also provision of some additional dog waste bins will hopefully encourage some dog owners to act more responsibly.”

Youth facilities in the area will be given a facelift and £6,000 in the budget this year will go towards the repayment of a £50,000 loan for playgrounds, while £1,000 over the next year will go towards the repayment of a £10,000 loan for the skate park.

The war memorial will also be revamped thanks to £2,000 in the town budget.

General maintenance around Petworth has been given a financial boost - with an increase from £750 in 2014 to £2,000 this year.

Mr Copus added: “Of course we can’t deliver any of these additional things without the supporting cash.

“The council has therefore agreed to increase its budget for 2015/16 by a net 50 per cent over the current year. This will translate into a similar percentage increase in rates payable by Petworth residents for the town council element of their overall rates bill.

“For a Band D ratepayer there will be an increase in this element from about £40 to £60 per year to fund these welcome and significant improvements.”