precept - Aerial photo town centre and church

Nantwich Town councillors have voted through a council tax precept rise of 3.5% for 2024-25 – half of the original planned 7% rise first debated in November.

But again the issue prompted at times a heated debate among councillors, with some Labour councillors calling for a zero rise and to find savings elsewhere.

The budget also included a proposed rise of 6.8% on market stall rents and allotment rents, as well as an increase on Civic Hall hire charges and bar prices.

The 3.5% precept rise will see an average Band D property in the town boundary pay around £150 a year for the town council portion of their Council Tax bill.

Town clerk Samantha Roberts said the 3.5% rise would also allow the council to retain general reserves of around £413,000 by the end of 2024-25.

Authorities are advised to hold a certain amount of general reserves at the end of each year for financial protection.

Cllr Arthur Moran (Ind) backed the 3.5% rise, saying: “It’s very important we have these reserves, and the clerk has explained what could happen with inflation and salary increases.”

But Cllr Riddell Graham (Lab) warned against raising market stall rents.

“Our market is a great draw to the town, and a 6.8% increase on market rents is a bit high. I would prefer this to be lower.”

Cllr John Priest (Lab) pointed to the indoor market hall making a loss, adding: “I think we can keep the precept to zero.

“We need to take a measured approach so the precept does not continue to balloon. We need to be fair to everyone and not put the burden on the taxpayer.”

But Cllr Anna Burton (Lab) said there was too much negativity from “people sat here number crunching”.

“Our town is doing really well, it’s resilient, it’s vibrant and relatively successful, and I find it appalling that it all seems to be about the pounds.”

Cllr Peter Groves (Con) seconded Cllr Moran’s support for a 3.5% precept rise which was voted through by majority.

It also means the council has approved the proposed income and rental changes, and the planned maintenance programme.

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