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How Sidmouth Town Council spends your Council Tax

Chris Lockyear – Chair, Sidmouth Town Council

Sidmouth Town Council has held 2 meeting since I last wrote in January. We had our usual February meeting on the 5th but also had another one in late January when we fixed our budget for 2024/25. I want to use this article explaining about how we set the budget and where we plan to spend the money. When you get your Council Tax bill in March from East Devon District Council (EDDC) there is a breakdown of where the money goes. The money is divided between Devon County Council (DCC), Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Devon and Cornwall Police, EDDC and Sidmouth Town Council (STC). In 2023/24 STC got about 4.3% of the total which is a relatively small percentage.

On 22 January we set our budget for 2024/25 at £713,945, which is an increase of 4.9% on the previous year.  A Council Tax Band D property will be charged £102.70 per year by STC. This sum is divided into 7 different categories with the largest 4 accounting for 94% of the spend. These 4 big categories are Council Services, Discretionary Expenditure, Freehold property and Staff.

Council Services covers a wide array of activities. One key element is funding for the Tourist Information Centre and tourism promotion. These are important for Sidmouth as we depend on visitors for much of our income. We also try to keep Sidmouth tidy by providing and maintaining flower beds and planters, cutting some of the verges, and weeding. These duties are shared with both DCC and EDDC, depending on who owns the land. At Christmas time we provide the seasonal lights, with support from the Chamber of Commerce. Sidmouth Town Council also run the Arches toilets as well as support EDDC providing other toilet facilities in the Sidmouth; we know these are important to both our residents and visitors. The final line items in this budget category is the cost of providing the Sidmouth Youth Centre at Manstone which is run by Young Devon. All these different services are important to different members of our community and the total in this area is £198,250.

Discretionary Expenditure mainly covers grants we make to organisations that put on the wide range of Festivals in the Sid Valley as well as the many voluntary groups that do so much for the cultural, sporting and community life. The budget in this area is £125,500.

Sidmouth Town Council owns land and property either directly or as Trustee and this needs to be maintained. The major sites are the Manstone Youth Centre building, the Ham, the Arches, Woolcombe House, and now also the Knowle Parkland since transfer from EDDC. We continue to try and invest to keep these assets up to date, for example by upgrading the playpark on the Ham which is shown in the photo. The total budget in this area is £166,445.

And of course none of this happens without the staff of Sidmouth Town Council who work hard to ensure the money is spent efficiently. The staff budget is £180,100.

And finally a word about how the budget is set. The Council staff prepare a draft budget based on the services the Councillors have agreed they want to provide, and this is then discussed with the Member for Finance and his deputy. Adjustments are made and a recommendation is then taken to the full Council meeting so that all Councillors can understand what is being proposed. In the January meeting we made some small changes but the bulk of what was recommended was supported.

15 February 2024
Last Updated
15 February 2024
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