Town Council Budget Proposals Published
Bridport Town Council has today [9 January] published its draft budget for 2024/25, including details of the likely impact on Council Tax payers.
The budget, covering the year from 1 April 2024, will be the first for a newly expanded Bridport Town Council area to include the parishes of Allington, Bothenhampton & Walditch, and Bradpole, and the western edge of the town that has to date been in Symondsbury parish. For the combined area, the proposed total budget increase is estimated at 6.4%, although the amalgamation of the parish areas and the ‘levelling’ of Council Tax charges means that this increase would not be reflected in bills. Instead, residents of the existing Bridport area in a Band D property would see an annual drop of about £85 in their annual contribution to Town Council services, whilst for residents of the parishes there would be a significant increase of up to £147 a year, or 2.83 a week.
Council Leader Cllr Dave Rickard said “We know that any increase in charges are unwelcome at this difficult time, but residents should also realise that for many years the cost of the Town Council’s work has been met solely by those living in the central area of the town, and central West Bay. The boundary changes from April remove this unfairness.”
The proposals, detailed at https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Estimates-2024-2025-ENCL-3867.pdf, are to be discussed at the Council’s Finance Committee on Monday 15 January (7pm, Mountfield), and the budget will be finalised at the Full Council meeting on 23 January (7pm, Town Hall). Both meetings are open to the public.
Finance Committee Chair Cllr Sarah Williams said “The proposed budget increase is more than we’d hoped to have seen, but the very high rate of inflation over the past two years, and continued pressure to protect services withdrawn by Dorset Council has left councillors with some difficult decisions to make. It’s worth remembering that if the proposals are approved, many people will pay less than the ‘headline’ Council Tax figure due to discounts and benefits available, and the Council will be able to continue providing for all residents of the whole of Bridport and West Bay.”
The budget is just one part of a wider change affecting the Town Council from April, which will see a significant expansion of its boundary, a split into five ‘ward’ areas, and an increase in the number of councillors from 18 to 20. Cllr Rickard said of the changes “I believe this will be good for the community, giving us improved democracy with elections in all areas, greater influence over Dorset Council and other larger bodies, a more cohesive approach to local services, and a fairer way of funding what we do.”
Town Clerk Will Austin said “It’s been a big challenge bringing together the budgets of four councils into one, as the first major step towards delivering the expanded Town Council. The expansion will take effect from April, and at the Council elections on 2nd May the public will have their say on how it should operate in future. We’re very keen to see people coming forward to stand and I’m sure the budget proposals will generate some interest. I’m happy to meet with anyone who is considering standing for election to talk about our work and the electoral process.”
More information on the changes can be found at https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/CG-leaflet-FINAL-consecutive-pages-1.pdf. For those considering standing for election, the Town Council’s guide can be found at https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/make-a-change/. The Council can also be contacted on 01308 456722 or via email at [email protected].
• Will Austin, Town Clerk, Bridport Town Council. Email [email protected] or tel. 01308 456722