St Ives councillors agree five per cent rise in precept

RESIDENTS in St Ives will see their town council tax rise by 5.25 per cent next year.

Councillors agreed to scrap plans for a �45,000 security fencing scheme at Hill Rise allotment and a �10,000 bus shelter to keep down its spending, but will still add about �31,000 to its budget through the tax increase.

The rise is �5.53 a year on a Band D property, giving a bill of �110.79.

At the meeting last Wednesday (December 12), councillors also voted to cut all funding for St Ives Town Initiative and extra funding for the Corn Exchange, which maintains its �4,000 grant, saving a total of �9,000.

However, they retained plans to spend �30,000 on new play equipment for Slepe Hall Field and Russet Close, �10,000 to renovate the bus station toilets, �10,000 for new computers for council staff, and �60,000 to cover a possible increase in staff salaries and pension funds.

It was also agreed to take �58,000 in loans to pay for solar panels on the Town Hall and for an amenity depot at the Hill Rise allotment. The council also injected �30,000 from its reserves to reduce the need to further increase the precept.

The �1,000 for the now closed Huntingdonshire Citizens’ Advice Bureau has been reallocated to Huntingdonshire Volunteer Centre.

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The mayor’s allowance was also raised by 5.2 per cent – to �3,573 – in line with inflation, and councillors backed the newly-formed St Ives Retail Group with �2,000 to help run the Tennerday scheme, which ran for the first time in October encouraging retailers to offer goods and services to customers for �10.

Councillor David Hodge secured �3,000 to provide seats along Ramsey Road and Festival Events St Ives (FESt) was allocated more than �9,000 – an increase of �5,500 – to provide a range of events in the town, including �5,000 for the Picnic in the Park event.

Mayor Councillor Debbie Townsend said that she was pleased to reduce the precept increase from a potential 30 per cent to around 5.25 per cent.

She told The Hunts Post: “I understand that it’s a lot of money, especially in these times, and I would have liked it lower.

“I would have liked not to have a rise but the council has set out what it wants to achieve. In some ways, our hands are tied as there is talk of capping us to the same levels as the principal authorities which would mean we would be limited to a �12,000 increase, which isn’t that much, especially with localism rules giving us more responsibility.”