For immediate release
The Town Council has set its precept for 2019/20. The precept is its part of the Council Tax demand. The Town Council continues to deal with the challenges faced by the unilateral decision of Waveney District Council to transfer over mainly non-revenue earning assets, many transferred in poor repair and with inadequate information and funding. A considerable amount of time and money has had to be spent on determining the condition of buildings and making repairs and improvements where possible.
Lowestoft Town Council faces large bills for maintaining assets such as the Town Hall, Marina Theatre and Denes Oval due to lack of investment over a number of years. These are to ensure that the buildings do not become unsafe or deteriorate such that they become a greater liability and expense in the future.
At the start of this budgeting process, the sums identified to carry out the immediate repairs would have resulted in a 46% increase in the precept. After months of work to identify savings and different ways of financing expenditure, this was reduced by over two thirds. The Council did not want to cut public-facing services but ultimately determined a further reduction on the increase, totalling £120k. It did this through delaying some budget items to future years and making small savings across the whole budget.
Part of the Council’s strategy for dealing with the financial commitments, is to consider taking out a loan to spread the cost of needed repairs over a longer period. However, every element of the expenditure will need to be subject to individual project-plans and costings and residents will be consulted on whether to seek loans for relevant projects.
For a Band A property the increase will be £8.31 per year (16p per week) and for a Band D property the increase will be £12.47 per year (24p per week). The precept will rise by 9.62%.
The Mayor, Cllr Ian Graham, said “We are delighted that we have already been able to improve many assets under our care. Play areas, such as those at Normanston Park and Stoven Close have seen major improvements. We created a beautiful memorial garden and helped deliver successful events in our open spaces in the town. Our Town Hall has had some emergency repairs and we anticipate that we will be progressing a viability study on its future shortly. The Marina Theatre is now more secure owing to our purchase of the Box Office Building and we will be investing to keep the main Theatre fit for purpose. We made use of our leisure facilities free in 2018/19 and we were greatly encouraged by the major impact this had on usage. We are looking at new ways to incentivise improvements in use and facilities through working with the Clubs in 2019/20. Although we are faced with an unavoidable increase in the precept, in real terms the figures are low compared to the impact of the bigger budgets of Councils such as Waveney District Council. The Town Council is focused solely on delivery benefits for Lowestoft.”
Contact details for the Council: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0330 053 6019
Further information on the Town Council can be seen at: www.lowestofttowncouncil.gov.uk