Council aims to increase budget

TOWN council chiefs have proposed a major increase in their budget for the next financial year.

Cramlington Town Council had set a proposed budget of £220,900, almost £100,000 more than the previous year’s kitty of £130,000.

But members have agreed an amendment, dependent on Northumberland County Council’s consent, that would see a smaller increase to £192,900.

The suggested figure means the band D town council precept for Cramlington would be an estimated £21.78.

The cost of service improvements – including planting schemes, additional grass-cutting, litter collections and provision of new allotment sites – was set to rise from £20,000 to £65,000, but Coun Ian Ayres proposed an amendment to set the rise to £45,000.

Coun Ayres, pictured, said: “We are talking about building a future for the residents of Cramlington.

“Cramlington belongs to the people, and we have to move forward in that way.

“We have to support and protect our most vulnerable residents, and we want to have a budget that reflects this.

“We need to close the gap between those on higher incomes and those on lower incomes.

“I don’t think £65,000 is warranted at this economic time for the service improvements.

“I also want festive lights to come down to £5,000, and for salaries I would like to see £5,000 taken off for the development trust.”

Under the proposed budget, salaries would rise from £30,000 to £35,000, without a £5,000 allowance for specialist support to assist the establishment of a Development Trust, and there would be a £10,000 election fund.

Town councillors’ expenses will be cut from £4,500 this year to £2,500 next year if the budget is approved.

Other cuts are also lined up, including axeing £3,000 earmarked for town twinning and reducing the council’s insurance bill from £3,000 to £2,400.

The budget for allotments will increase from £7,000 to £9,500, and the town fair budget will remain at £5,000. Coun Wayne Daley said: “This budget gives us the opportunity to engage with what service the residents want and would like to see delivered and how they would like to see them delivered.

“There are some very positive things to come out of this budget.”