Bury St Edmunds residents to pay an extra 70 per cent for town council tax precept

Bury St Edmunds town council to raise council tax

Bury St Edmunds town council to raise council tax - Credit: Archant

Taxpayers face a rise of nearly £10 a year as Bury St Edmunds’ town council aims to show it is about more than “just allotments”.

The group has confirmed it will up its band D council tax precept by £9.90 a year – from £13.50 to £23.40 – to help raise almost £130,000 in extra funds.

“I think this council is at a point where going backwards or standing still – neither are desirable or possible options,” said chairman Andrew Speed.

The rise of more than 70 per cent was mooted at last December’s meeting as the council said it wanted to play a more active role in what went on in the town, claiming they had not received the credit they deserved for events such as the ice rink or the popular Wolf Trail.

Among the spending plans is an extra £1,500 for each of the 17 councillors to distribute to projects as part of their locality budgets, a rise from £1,000.

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Councillor Thomas Murray was enthusiastic about how important the cash had been for residents this year, claiming the town council was now “much more respected” in his St Olaves ward.

“It does make a difference to the local community and they don’t think of us as just allotments,” he said. “They think of us as a town council that functions for the people in our areas.”

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The £13.50 figure has been frozen since 2010 and town clerk Julia Dyball said looking back at the records highlighted Bury’s band D precept was £13.95 in 2003 – showing it had bucked the trend and been dropped by previous town councillors.

Despite the large percentage rise, the town’s precept remains at the lower end of the county, with Clare’s council charging £112.50 for 2015/16 and Haverhill £111.75.

However, there were dissenting voices at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Peter Thompson abstained from voting on the budget and voted against raising the precept, comparing it to being asked for £10 by an “Oxfam chugger” in the street.

The council has proposed to use some of the money raised as grants to help various residents, groups and activities in the city.

“My approach to public funding is smaller state,” said Mr Thompson.

After a lengthy debate 12 councillors voted in favour of the 2016/17 budget, with Mr Thompson, Diane Hind and Kevin Hind abstaining. Mr Hind said he wanted to be sure the budget was “balanced”.

Fourteen voted in favour of raising the precept, with just Mr Thompson going against the majority.

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