Continuing to support the community and looking forward to the future, is how Sidmouth Town Council’s budget for the next financial year can be described.
With a substantially smaller increase to its precept than previous years, yet while still continuing to maintain the increased level of services it provides, the Town Council is busier than ever. The commitment to replace the Manstone Youth Centre building has received increased funding whilst funding has also been allocated to continue to support the various Covid-19 related schemes and initiatives in the Sid Valley.
The Council also agreed to award nearly £80,000 in grants and support to organisations across the Sid Valley, supporting both the younger and older residents, as well as cultural, sporting and environmental activities. The Festivals that entertain and inspire both residents and visitors alike were recognised including the Science Festival, Sea Fest, Literary Festival, the Carnival and the Walking Festival whilst Sidmouth Folk Festival, Sidmouth in Bloom and Sidmouth Town Band continue to receive support.
Member with Special Responsibility for Finance, Councillor Chris Lockyear commented “’This budget represents significant continuation in investment for youth services, tourism and the practical things that help those who live in the Sid Valley against the continuing backdrop and threat of Covid-19. I am pleased that at this difficult time, the Council has increased its level of support to help so many organisations that support the cultural, sporting and environmental activities in the Valley.”
In line with many other town councils across the country, the Council has been handed more responsibilities than ever before with many projects that residents have identified as important. To bring some of those priorities forward, whilst acknowledging the challenging times for the community, the Council has agreed to an increase in its overall precept by 4.7% which is its share of the Council Tax. The increase reflects as a £5.47 annual or 10.5p a week Council Tax increase for an average property for 2021/22 to ensure it continues to provide local services for its residents, businesses and visitors. The increase means the authority’s portion of the annual Council Tax bill for a Band D property will be £89.51 a year or £1.72 a week.
The precept, which was approved by the council on Monday evening (25 January 2021) will enable the Council to continue to provide its many local services and move ahead with its projects such as its aim to provide a replacement building for the Manstone Youth Centre. The new public conveniences on the seafront will continue to operate together with the new Skate Park constructed last year at Manstone Recreation field (once Covid restrictions allow). The Council will continue to ensure flower beds are colourful and attractive, and highway verges kept clean and maintained. Water fountains will also continue to be provided along the Esplanade. To support the environmental agenda, electric charging points will continue to be installed at key locations in the future and advice will be made available to residents to help them reduce their personal carbon footprint.
Chair of Council, Ian Barlow added: “The Council has been particularly busy in the past year helping our local voluntary and statutory services deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic. I am proud that Sidmouth Town Council was one of the first to harness the power of our fantastic local volunteers and deliver the Councils Covid-19 information leaflet. Working with other organisations such as Sid Valley Help and our wonderful community, we are as a town, weathering the storm and helping deliver support where needed.”