NEWBURY Town Council’s budget is on target for this quarter despite overspending on the mayor making ceremony and on Victoria Park water bills.
The council spent £2,546 on the ceremony in May to swear in the new mayor of Newbury – more than £500 over budget.
While almost £3,000 extra was spent on water bills following the opening of the popular Splash Park in Victoria Park – although a portion of this is expected to be recouped through the council’s insurance.
Discussing the overspent items at a meeting on Monday evening, the council’s policy and resources committee defended the extra £546 spent on the civic ceremony which saw Julian Swift-Hook (Lib Dem, Pyle Hill) take up the position.
Council officer Gillian Durrant explained the overspend was due to a rise in food costs for 50 extra people compared to previous years.
Tony Stretton (Con, Clay Hill) said: “We are criticised for having a civic event by some people and the press, and around the town.
“The officer just said the budget has not gone up for 10 years so I don’t think we can be criticised for overspending over that period of time.
“I think we do quite well – we are not exactly flamboyant.”
Mr Swift-Hook agreed, saying the ceremony was the “premier event for the town council” and the cost per head this year had been less than that spent in five of the last six years.
The council’s £2,949 overspend on water in Victoria Park was put down to a water leak and a £2,465 insurance claim is due.
Council leader David Goff (Con, Clay Hill) said: “We have an insurance claim due imminently but we will still be over spent because of the Splash Park.”
He added the council would have to “keep an eye on it” and perhaps increase the budget for water in Victoria Park in subsequent years as the Splash Park was using more water than expected.