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New Swaffham budget approved and zero increase precept

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A new budget and precept for Swaffham has been approved by town councillors.

Chairman of the council’s finance committee Ian Pilcher told a full council meeting last week that the council tax precept has been set at a zero increase from the previous level.

He also said the precept value has been increased by £12,000 due to there being more homes in the area.

A new budget and precept has been approved for Swaffham by town councillors
A new budget and precept has been approved for Swaffham by town councillors

The meeting was assured by town clerk Richard Bishop and Mr Pilcher that there was scope for flexibility.

Plans include no increase for allotment holder's rents and casual market stalls. But normal markets will have a two per cent increase for the coming financial year, Mr Pilcher said.

There will also be no rent increase for Sue's News.

Mr Pilcher said: "Our responsibility is to deliver the most cost effective quality of life and this budget enables us to do that. There is plenty of scope for climate emergencies, hedges etc. I propose we accept this budget."

Conservative councillors Shirley Matthews and Paul Darby were the only two to vote against the proposals, while Wendy Bensley abstained on the grounds of not being able to read through the budget before voting on it.

Mrs Matthews said: "How can I agree to the zero per cent increase if I do not know how it came about?"

And Mr Darby said: "A lot of these things I am delighted with. It will be zero (precept) but it's the way it has got to that zero that I am not happy with. It could mean trouble for the future in years to come.

"I am sorry but this budget, at the end of the year, I can't see how it is workable.

"I think it's just moving things around to make things look different and it's just not a proper budget in my mind so I can't vote for it."

Town Council clerk Richard Bishop said that under the new budget for 2020/1, a total of £16,000 has been earmarked for restoring play areas in the town as well as £46,000 for street lights.

On the new budget and precept, Mr Bishop said: “It’s still a working document. The whole process is ongoing.”

It comes after Swaffham town councillors had overwhelmingly agreed to abolish personal allowances, equating to £100 per individual, in December.

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