Town council sees freemen funding as a Christmas bonus

Berwick's annual income from the freemen trustees should be viewed as a Christmas bonus.

Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 8:55 am
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 9:17 am

That is the view taken by town councillors as it finally agreed its budget plans on Monday night.

The council has received more than £100,000 from the freemen for the coming year, prompting calls for it to be used to avoid a precept rise.

But Councillor Eric Goodyer said: “I think the freemen’s money has been used as a piggy bank and managed incorrectly, dipped into for pet projects.

“We cannot rely on that for revenue. It’s not guaranteed income and it’s not under our control.

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“My view is that it’s like Christmas bonus. We see how much comes in this year and then we hold meetings with the public on how to spend it the following year.”

He was backed by Mayor Hazel Bettison who pointed out the income from the freemen had been as low as £60,000 in the recent past.

However, Councillor Anne Forbes said she had been told at a councillor training event last Saturday that the freemen’s money should be treated as total income.