Village raises council tax by 18.2%

JPCT 070113 Phil Bowell - made an MBE for services to British Industry and the Bahrain Community. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 070113 Phil Bowell - made an MBE for services to British Industry and the Bahrain Community. Photo by Derek Martin

Steyning Parish Council says its 18.2 per cent council tax increase will cover the cost of legal fees and community services.

Its council tax precept rise will mean an increase of 25p per week for an average band D property.

The council said there are two key items relating to the increase, which includes two judicial reviews taken out against the council last year.

A spokesperson for Steyning Parish Council said: “In the last year the council was faced with an unexpected election for a new councillor as well as being taken to the High Court with two judicial reviews over the proposed skate park in the Memorial Playing Field, both of which it won.

“In the last few months the council has received letters from some residents threatening legal action over the noise from the proposed skate park and although planning permission has yet to be granted and, full funding found to build the skate park, the council believes that it would be prudent to include some legal fees and costs for a poll/referendum/election in the new budget.”

Steyning Parish Council Chairman Phil Bowell said it would be ‘irresponsible’ for the council not to have funds set aside for future legal costs.

He said: “We have had letters from individuals saying they will continue to concider legal action against the council due to a noise issue.

“It’s irresponsible of us not to have some contingency if it happens again.

“It’s right and proper that we take into consideration what could happen.”

He continued: “The budget proposed for this will not cover all the fees, should these residents press ahead with their claim, and some money from the reserves will most likely still be needed, but it will limit the depletion of these reserves.

“Should the budgeted funds not be used in the next year they will be put into reserves for such expenditure in the future.”

The council is also responsible for maintaining a number of ‘assets and services’.

“These include funding for the youth provision and the wardens both of which have made a significant impact on anti-social behaviour in the town and made Steyning one of the safest places to live in Horsham District. In addition the council provides a contribution for the swimming pool, maintains and runs the toilets in the High Street and runs the Steyning Centre which is a valuable community asset.

“The council manages all of these and the day-to-day administration of a very busy council office, with two full-time members of staff.

“To maintain the high management standards of its assets and services, the council has decided it needs a further part-time member of staff.”

“The council has done a comparison with other councils of a similar size and larger and believes that it delivers good value for money in the wider range of community services and amenities it provides over other councils.”

The tax increase will begin April 1 2014.