THE PRECEPT to pay for the Hedon component of council tax bills will remain the same as last year for the new financial year (April 2014 – March 2015). This was resolved at a marathon 2 hour 45 minute budget-setting meeting of Hedon Town Council last night.

Precept Hedon Town CouncilThe precept set last year of around £140,000 was offset by grant support from government funding of around £13,000 (via the East Riding Council) giving a town precept of £124,954 with a household charge to Hedon council tax payers of £59.37. The balanced figures for this year are expected to be very similar when published.

Hedon Town Council is one of only 17 town and parish councils to continue to receive compensatory grant support from government funding. East Riding Council has opted to support only those councils which last year sought to freeze or lower their precept. Some town councillors expressed a fear that any compensation funding next year might only be available on the same criteria. In a resolution passed at the end of the meeting last night, the council welcomed the continuing support available from the compensatory funding, but expressed disquiet at the ongoing reliance on such external and uncertain financial sources in order to balance a budget.

In making their decisions last night councillors went through each budget heading twice and on each pass sought to reduce expenditure. Several budget items were earmarked for further discussion on the first pass and were debated at great length before final decisions were made.

Out went plans to spend additional amounts on resolving Hedon’s vehicle and car parking problems this year: Plans for a local transport service around the town could not expected to be realised in the new financial year and so further research into that proposal will take place this year with a view to budgeting for 2015/16. Out, also, went a budget earmarked for a new car park in the town.

Disabled Access: A new project to make Hedon Town Hall more disabled-friendly and improving access to disabled people for functions and meetings taking place in the ancient building did get supported. However, only £4,000 was earmarked towards the £17,000 to £20,000 estimated costs. The council will determine how to make the project happen at a future Finance & General Purposes meeting, but one of the options to be discussed at that meeting is taking out a loan. Whilst paying for work via loans is nothing new for local authorities, this would be a step-change in how the Hedon Council does business.

Other issues from the budget meeting:

  • Spending on a tree planting and replacement scheme was reduced by half.
  • Plans to purchase a new mechanical grit/salt spreader for tackling winter snow and ice was dropped in favour of an additional, cheaper hand-pushed manual spreader.
  • Spending on the Hedon Town Council newsletter was cut resulting in only two editions being published instead of four.
  • The budget to complete the restoration of Horsewell Pond was cut.
  • A budget item aimed at making some Town Council meetings watchable online was dropped.

This article only gives a glimpse of the very difficult decisions made by councillors at last night’s meeting. During the process of the long meeting, plans and budgets which would have led to a 250% rise in the local precept, were streamlined to achieve a 0% rise for local residents.

The decision to maintain a freeze on the level of precept has not been a painless one. But, we ask, would local residents accept a rise in their council tax bills to pay for additional local services?

3 thoughts on “No council tax precept rise in Hedon for 2014/15

  1. To help explain the precept figures, particularly for the benefit of the Hedon Blog facebook contributor who thinks Hedon’s precept is a high one, perhaps the following list of precepts claimed by comparable market towns will be useful. These are the figures for the year 2013/14 and show that Hedon was indeed the lowest.. Obviously they cannot be compared like-for-like, because each town will have a different level of service to provide (eg more/less trees to maintain, more/less grass to cut, bigger/smaller cemetery to maintain etc etc), but Hedon residents can rest assured the Council continues to maintain a tight control of its finances for the benefit of council tax payers. WITHERNSEA £96.48 (per dwelling per annum) HORNSEA £92.25 HOWDEN £87.90 POCKLINGTON £70.35 MARKET WEIGHTON £62.20 HEDON £59.37 John Dennis, Mayor of Hedon

  2. What a shame the budget to complete the restoration of the Horsewell Pond was cut after all the time and effort Jim Lindop put into it.

  3. Thanks Ray, that is a pretty accurate synopsis of the way the meeting went. It was certainly a bit of a marathon, but we got there in the end!

    Pity though that none of the four candidates for the vacant seats could find the time to attend what is after all the most important Hedon Town Council Meeting of the year. They would have gained a valuable insight into how the Town Council operates, and, more importantly, they would have seen that we are not the disfunctional body that some bloggers would have you believe.

    However, what we did last night was exactly what we set out to do – ie ensure that our residents are not going to pay any more for the services that Hedon provides than they did last year, and indeed this will be the 5th year on the trot that we have kept our precept to exactly the same level. In these inflationary times that takes some doing, hence our two and three quarter hours session last night. OK, some projects on our wish list have had to be put on hold, but we can always come back to them in future years when things start to improve in the economy..

    I hope residents are content that their Council is handling the finances of the town in a thrift manner, and that we continue to work hard to maintain the services you have come to expect, whilst all the while keeping our budget in check.

    John Dennis, 667th Mayor of Hedon

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