MEDIA RELEASE: Council Tax and Theatres

 

TOWN MAYOR SAYS THEATRES ‘DISASTER’ AN EXAMPLE OF NEED FOR STRONG TOWN COUNCIL FINANCES

Barnstaple Town Council set its Council Tax at a Full Council meeting on Monday [23 Jan], following a debate about the news that North Devon Theatres Trust had gone into administration.

At the meeting, Town councillors agreed to seek urgent discussions with North Devon District Council to consider how the Town Council help re-open local theatres at the earliest opportunity.  Town Mayor Cllr Mrs Julie Hunt said of the decision “Local theatres are very important community facilities and of course contribute to the local economy well beyond just ticket sales.  The news from the Theatres Trust is a potential disaster for the area and of course our thoughts are with the staff and volunteers in particular.  It is heartening that town councillors have decided to put their weight fully behind efforts to rescue the situation for all concerned.”

Later in the same meeting, councillors considered the potential for this and other threats to local services in setting the Town Council’s element of the Council Tax for 2017-18.  Councillors heard how savings already made by the Town Council would pay for additional costs of highway verge maintenance, North Devon Record Office, and reduced support funding from the District and County Councils.  They also looked at other services that might need supporting in years to come, and the Government’s warning that Council Tax rises could be ‘capped’ from next year.  £50,000 was set aside to protect services and support the refurbishment of Barnstaple Guildhall, resulting in a Band D Council Tax of £94.57, a rise of £7.89 a year or 15p a week.

Council Finance Chairman Cllr Steve Upcott said “The Council has been put in a very difficult situation; on the one hand we see services being cut and people wanting us to intervene, on the other the Government is threatening to stop us making provision for this in future years.  Councillors were left with the choice of sitting on their hands when the community needs our support, or of setting some money aside at this possible last opportunity to help our town.”

Supporting the Council’s decision, Deputy Mayor Cllr Ian Roome said “The list of services under threat seems never-ending.  We’ve heard a lot of examples of likely  cuts - to health, social care, highways, licensing, and waste collection recently, and now we have news that our theatres are in peril.  The Town Council is a small organisation and can’t solve all of these problems, but we feel very strongly that we should put some money aside to help where we can.”

END

Contact: Will Austin, Town Clerk, will.austin@barnstapletowncouncil.co.uk, 01271 373311


 

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