The Town Mayor, Councillor Kate Buchanan said:
‘The Town Council’s precept is significantly less than the national average. There was a substantial reduction in grant funding from Kirklees Council for 19/20 which has continued this year. Additionally, the Ask Meltham project in 2019, identified a number of priority issues on which Meltham residents wanted the Town Council to take action. However, some of the solutions to the issues raised by residents do require additional funding. We have therefore reluctantly taken the decision to increase the precept. The precept for Meltham Town Council is a tiny proportion of residents’ total council tax bill, with the majority of council tax going to Kirklees Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and the fire and rescue authorities.
At a total cost of less than a pound a week for an average property, our services continue to represent value for money’.
There are several reasons why the Council took this decision:
- Cuts to grant funding
Unfortunately Kirklees Council has significantly reduced the grant it provides to the Town Council from over £7,000 per year to mere hundreds of pounds in 19/20, to nothing at all for 20/21 and the Town Council needs to replace this funding in order to protect the services it provides.
- Protecting Meltham Services
As Kirklees Council cuts services, the Town Council is stepping in to protect and provide for the residents of Meltham – e.g. contributing to library services in Meltham and arranging for footpaths and public spaces to be cut back of vegetation and cleared of litter.
- Ensuring the Town Council’s future finances are on a firm footing
For many years the Town Council did not raise the precept, or the increases were below inflation. However, this is not sustainable indefinitely and ultimately reduces the money available for local projects. We have taken steps to reduce our expenditure where we can but taking this action now will ensure that the Council is in a stronger financial position and able to operate effectively on behalf of our community into the future as well as continuing to provide and improve the range of facilities and services to the community.
- Improving our area
The Council listened to what residents wanted to happen in Meltham when they undertook the Ask Meltham project last year and the bulk of the increase in the precept will go on putting in place actions to address the priorities that residents highlighted. The Council continues to set aside monies for improvements to the Town Centre to ensure Meltham is an attractive and safe place to live, work and visit. We continue to make significant grants to community groups in Meltham and are planning a number of improvements to further enhance Robert Ashton Memorial Park over the coming years.
Meltham Town Council’s service provision includes allotments, litter picking and environmental improvements, children’s play areas, park facilities and maintenance, playing fields and gardens, public toilets, and sports facilities. It subsidises the library to protect this provision in Meltham and makes substantial grants to Meltham organisations to support community led activities.
The Town Council receives no grant assistance from central government, and therefore must be financially self-supporting. In addition to the Council Tax precept the Town Council’s only other sources of income is a small amount from allotment rentals and investment income.