Gillingham Town Council has defended its decision to raise its annual precept – which forms part of residents’ council tax – to £764,594.13. This represents an increase of 17.88% based on a band D property, making a total increase of £2.27 per month in local terms.
The council said it was aware that an increase in expenditure was likely, resulting from the devolution of services from the district and county councils and the withdrawing of support for various functions they provided previously. For example North Dorset District Council had budget restraints and were unable to fully support the North Dorset Citizens Advice Bureau, so Gillingham Town Council agreed to put £10,000 towards that service.
Meanwhile the town council says it continues to provide roadside verge cutting throughout the town with limited financial assistance from the county council, maintains planted areas, some under licence from the county council, and provides festive lighting in the town at Christmas.
Mayor Barry Von Clemens said: ‘Street cleansing in the town is carried out daily with some financial help from the district council and the town council is responsible for 27.66 hectares or 68 acres of public open space, which includes 12 areas of playing space; a recreation ground that is fully equipped with an adventure play area, skate park, outdoor table tennis facility and shortly a multi-use games area; a cemetery and Garden of Remembrance.’
The council has also been hit by a pension shortfall hitting all local councils, which will require an additional payment of £16K a year for three years.