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Council tax bills to soar in Newquay as town council almost doubles its precept

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: January 29, 2014

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COUNCIL tax bills are set to soar in Newquay after the town council almost doubled what it charges residents for its services.

People living in an average Band D home will have to stump up around £60 extra a year from April, £49.36 of which will go to Newquay Town Council.

Those living in some of Newquay's more lavish properties will see their bills leap higher still.

The council's members decided on Monday that the cash was needed to pay for "essential" services in the resort, such as public toilets, CCTV cameras and a new dog warden.

The news means taxpayers will be handing the town council almost twice the current amount – £111.35 a year rather than £61.99.

Cornwall Council has already agreed to bump up annual Band D bills by £5.64, while the police are expected to add a similar amount.

Town councillors broadly agreed that a cash boost of more than £330,000 was needed for 2014/15, largely to fund services they have taken over from Cornwall Council.

This includes around £190,000 on toilets, £30,000 for CCTV, £15,000 on weed killing and £19,000 to employ a dog warden.

The agreed precept was £760,000 – up 79 per cent from the current £423,750. The expected council expenditure is £825,420 for the year.

Emotions ran high and tempers occasionally flared during Monday's meeting as councillors were divided on how much extra cash they should squeeze out of the resort's taxpayers.

On one side, members and supporters of the finance and policy (F&P) committee, backed by the town clerk and financial officer, suggested a precept of £780,000.

But backers of the scrutiny working party, whose job it was to check F&P's sums and look for savings, believed a much lower precept of £627,200 would be enough.

Defending F&P, councillor Carl Leadbetter said Newquay residents had been paying 12 per cent less than the county average in council tax for the past two years, and the extra money was vital to safeguard the town's future.

He said: "All of these projects will serve the town for years to come but the programme needs investment. It's an extra £1 a week; that's not quite two litres of milk at Morrison's.

"We risk acting as an anchor and holding back progress. We are talking about essential services that the public wants protecting."

He was backed by Lyndon Harrison, who said: "If you asked most people in Newquay then [for an extra £1 a week] they would rather have toilets and security through CCTV. We are in this position because of Cornwall Council cuts. We need public toilets in this town, we need CCTV, and we are here to make a decision on whether or not to keep them."

But, Joanna Kenny, chairman of the scrutiny group, described F&P's proposed budget as "flabby and indulgent", saying the right move was to have a leaner budget but stash more money away in the council's 'reserves' pot for a rainy day.

She was backed by John Fitter.

It was agreed that £132,800 of the £760,000 precept would be placed in reserves.

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