Council set to put budget up by almost three quarters

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a town council’s budget is set to shoot up by almost three quarters – a rise of nearly £140,000.

Cramlington Town Council’s precept is set to increase from £192,900 to £331,700 for next financial year.

The proposed 72 per cent rise will cover the cost of various services the authority, formed in 2009, is taking over from Northumberland County Council.

If the budget is approved, residents of Cramlington will have to pay an extra £10 a year to fund the £138,800 budget increase – up from £14.50 a year in 2011 to £24.

The extra cash would pay for £35,000 worth of improvements to the town’s playgrounds, the launch of a new kite festival, an easter event and a beacon to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

The council’s community chest is to be increased by £12,000.

Money would also be allocated for an increase in staffing to allow the creation of a development trust and possibly a chamber of commerce too.

Another £20,000 would be set aside to improve the appearance of roundabouts in the town.

Council chairman David Shaw said: “In 2011, the majority of householders in Cramlington paid £14.50 for services provided by the town council. This was collected by the county council as part of their council tax demand.

“For this, the town council provides playgrounds, allotments and festive lights.

“We also provide financial support to many voluntary and community groups and have undertaken a number of environmental improvement schemes within Cramlington.

“As well as providing these services, we are a focal point for local people to voice their concerns.

“In 2012, the county council will be transferring responsibility for a number of services to Cramlington Town Council, which will include bus shelters, public seats and litter bins.

“It will also extend to floral displays, and we will have the option to fund additional grass cutting where this is needed.

“We will, of course, also need to maintain and hopefully improve the services we already provide and continue to support local voluntary groups, particularly as other organisations are being forced to cut back on their support.

“This means that our part of the council tax demand will have to increase to cover the cost of these services.

“The cost to most householders will be less than £24 a year or £2 a month. All the money we collect is spent in Cramlington, and we will make sure that our spending reflects the views of residents on local priorities.”

Labour group representative Ian Ayres added: “We are a council that cares for the welfare of our residents.

“Any increase in budget for 2012-13 has to be set at the minimum.

“We have to listen to all our residents, act on what their needs are and to be advocates within our communities.

“In these tough economic times, our proposed increase is targeted to support the most vulnerable within the communities of Cramlington, especially the wellbeing of low-income families.”