Town council budget increases to £400,000

Berwick's hoppa bus

Berwick's hoppa bus

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Berwick Town Council has agreed to raise its precept by nine per cent for the forthcoming financial year.

Maintenance and investment in play areas has been a key factor in the increase in the precept from £200,762 to £218,220.

This represents £68.97 for a Band D rated property and an increase of 20p per week in the council tax.

The total budget for 2014-15 is almost £400,000, with 40 per cent allocated to capital projects.

Play areas and play equipment account for a substantial part of the spend, with £100,000 allocated for new and revamped parks at Flagstaff Park and the Bonarsteads.

A further £20,000 has been earmarked for annual maintenance and repairs of seven more play parks the town council has taken over from Northumberland County Council.

There is also support for local organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, whose services are coming under increasing pressure, and the ongoing provision of the town centre Hoppa bus service.

The council is now also playing a key role in supporting events which will attract more visitors to Berwick, including the Berwick Autumn Festivals, the new Berwick Walking Festival, and the Lowry exhibition, a major event for Berwick. The Berwick 900 celebrations of 2015 are also being supported.

Mayor Isabel Hunter said: “We have kept the budget increase as low as possible, but we have committed to taking on play areas, which need maintaining and repairs.

“We want to do as much as we can to get more people to visit Berwick to help our local businesses, and making improvements to the town centre and its surroundings, whether its festive lights at Christmas or floral displays in the summer, is good for our residents and good for visitors.”

Finance chairman John Stephenson, in a speech to full council, praised efforts to improve the condition of public seats.

He also gave special thanks to the Freemen ‘for their continuing very generous contributions’ to finances.

He added: “Last year we received £15,000 local parish allocation which kept Band D precept down to £1 per week. We will not be receiving that this year which means an additional 10p per week on precept.

“The total budget requirement for the forthcoming year equates to an extra 20p per week for a Band D property which I believe is reasonable given our extra commitments.”

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