For immediate release
Last year Waveney District Council increased the overall council tax cost to the Lowestoft taxpayer in creating the Town Council with no corresponding decrease in their own element of the council tax and with insufficient consultation with the people of Lowestoft. The Town Council noted that, in the rush to create the Town Council and transfer mainly non-revenue earning assets, the District Council had forcibly transferred many assets in a poor state of repair, left unfunded future project commitments (created by the District Council) and provided the Town Council with a budget that contained errors and was unrealistic considering the commitments transferred by the District Council.
Last night, following a lengthy budget-setting process, a proposed budget was placed before Full Council. A wide-ranging debate took place prior to the council voting in favour of accepting the budget. There were serious concerns that the Council would be requesting 13.32% increase. However, it was noted that, due to the small level of the current precept this would in effect increase the precept by 29p per week for a Band D property. If this budget had been set last year, the increase would have been just a further 1% on the increase set by Waveney.
The Mayor, Cllr Ian Graham, said "This is the biggest transfer to a newly created Council from a District Council for many years. We are determined to improve Lowestoft and not to manage its continuing decline. We have 20 unpaid local councillors committed to making things better, providing better value for money, bringing in new benefits for local people and ensuring that in the future there is genuine community consultation and involvement."
Our plans for the upcoming year include: a major Lowestoft-wide community consultation on the services and assets we provide; improving children’s play areas and actively seeking friends groups to help shape the future of their parks; seeking grants and conducting structural surveys for our heritage assets, including the Town Hall, to help protect them for future generations; consulting with the National Association of British Market Authorities about reinstating a market in the town; work with the people of Lowestoft to develop a Neighbourhood Plan for the future of Lowestoft; providing a community voice, including when cuts to services affect local people; and sponsoring events and festivals, including for the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Among other things, as part of its efforts to help increase the health of local people and encourage social and physical activity, the Town Council has made the decision to remove the charges for its leisure facilities, such as tennis, bowls, football and cricket from April 2018. Look out for details of the new booking system on the Council’s website in due course. This has already received a warm welcome from groups which could otherwise not have afforded to use the facilities.
The Mayor said: "We have now provided a strong foundation for the future which ensures the Council should not need to increase the budget more than inflation in future years."
Assets and contracts were transferred to the Town Council on 1 April 2017 through a Reorganisation Orderi drawn up by Waveney District Council. The District Council set the budget at £1,392,280. The first councillors were elected in May 2017 and the inaugural meeting was held on 16 May 2017. This was the first opportunity for councillors to consider the significant number of assets which had been transferred before the Town Council was able to make any decisions. The total payable per year (2018/19) for Lowestoft Town Council is shown below:
i The Waveney District Council (Reorganisation of Community Governance) Order 2017 can be viewed on the Town Council website.
District Council is empowered to create new councils and make such transfers under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.
|The Lowestoft Town Council Precept||2018/19 Per year (£)|