February 6, 2018
Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge council tax bills to rise by 4.95%

Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge residents will see a 4.95% hike in their council tax bills this April after town councillors last night approved the increase.

A big £20,000 decrease in funding for Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge from Sedgemoor District Council due to central government cutbacks has prompted the Town Council to consider the increase.

It was agreed that the amount the Town Council requires to maintain local services next year is just over £600,000.

The hike in bills - which amounts to £4.43 per year or 37p more per month - was approved at a meeting of the full Town Council on Monday evening (February 5th).

Town Clerk Tatiana Cant said: "Sedgemoor District Council has been phasing out the Support Grant which they used to pass on to town and parish councils. This means that we will receive £20,819 less than last year. It has been very difficult to make adjustments to accommodate this serious deficit."

"The amount the Council requires to maintain local services next year is just over £600,000 and this means that the Town Council element of the Council Tax bill will rise slightly - by £4.43 per Band D property per year. This equates to 37p more per month per household."

Pictured: The increase was unanimously approved by councillors last night

She explained how the council decides on a figure for its budget: "Setting our budget involves looking at our expenditure for the previous year and anticipating our outgoings for the year ahead."

"We also consider the income we’ve received this year and our anticipated income for next year. Our main sources of income are the Princess Theatre, and cemeteries and allotments – but in all cases these also require expense from the Council to maintain them."

"Each Council Committee has scrutinised their own Committee budget and after careful consideration, councillors have now arrived at the final figure."

Services run by the Town Council include providing the Princess Theatre community space, maintaining three cemeteries, statutory responses to planning applications, maintaining allotments and supporting youth projects. The grant pot for funding to community groups remains with £45,000 to support local initiatives.

The Town Council has also agreed to support the Number 67 Bus route from Burnham to Wells, and Tatiana explained: "This is an excellent collaborative venture between all the parishes along the route but we are making the largest contribution - £5,500 as we are the largest parish. We have also allocated £2,000 towards promoting tourism in the towns."

Cllr Mike Facey, the Town Council's Policy and Finance Committee Chairman, added: "We need to put this increase into perspective with other Somerset towns - Bridgwater's increase is 9%, Chard's is 15% and Cheddar is 9.95% - so Burnham and Highbridge's rise is small by comparison."

"I am pleased to say will be maintaining all our services - there is no loss of staff or services, and will continue to keep up our high standards."

Cllr Andy Brewer noted: "The increase is just £4.43 a year or less than 10p a week."

The increase was proposed by Cllr Andy Brewer and seconded by Cllr Janet Keen with unanimous support.


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