Wed, 15 Feb 2017
GREENHAM residents will not be asked to pay any more for the parish precept this year.
There were fears that Greenham Parish Council would raise the precept by 17.5 per cent to help repay a £150,000 loan needed to finish the troubled control tower project.
But there will be no increase at all after the council agreed its budget for 2017/18 at a recent meeting.
The parish council’s budget includes £20,000 for the Greenham Common Control Tower project, which has been hit by a series of delays and unexpected costs.
The council also agreed to transfer £41,500 to the control tower from its reserves of £99,479 in order to fund the continuation of the project and reduce any borrowing requirement.
Greenham Parish Council is currently in the process of applying for a £150,000 loan to help complete the project.
The news of the zero-per-cent increase to the precept will be welcomed by the parish’s taxpayers, after they were hit with an above-inflation 3.02-per-cent increase at the start of the 2016/17 financial year.
The hike was introduced as the spiralling costs of the control tower became clear.
Funding for West Berkshire Citizens Advice will also be doubled from £1,000 to £2,000.
The council did, however, turn down West Berkshire Council’s request for £3,690 towards funding the district’s libraries.
This money will instead go towards the council clerk’s salary (a position currently vacant), which has been increased from £20,659 to £25,689.
Spending on office rent will be raised from £4,800 to £5,760.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, chairman of Greenham Parish Council Julian Swift-Hook said the budget was “great news” for parish residents.
He added: “We’ve been able to provide funding for the control tower project to move forward, pay for more hours for our clerk and cover the cost of keeping Greenham’s grit bins filled now that the West Berkshire Council isn’t going to do that anymore.
“We discussed the request from West Berkshire Council for libraries funding, and members concluded that it was more important to put extra money towards increased hours for our clerk.
“I think this was the right decision for Greenham residents, especially as the parish grows and West Berkshire Council is passing more and more services down to parishes to manage.
“Moreover, Greenham’s nearest library, in central Newbury, wasn’t threatened with closure.”
Speaking about the increased funding for the control tower, he said: “The cash put into the project from reserves has been sitting in the council’s bank earmarked for the project for more than a year.
“Making it immediately available to spend, rather than just sitting on it, means that the new control tower committee can take steps to move the project forward right now, without waiting for any external funding decisions.”