Town and Parish Council services '˜under threat' due to precept cap

Town and parish councils in East Lindsey could see their precepts capped next year - sparking fears they won't be able to afford the cost of providing extra services.

Cash-strapped Lincolnshire County Council and East Lindsey District Council are looking to save millions of pounds after massive cuts in Government funding.

The precepts of both authorities are capped by Government - restricting how much they can increase their annual council tax charge to property owners.

Town and parish councils aren’t capped but new legislation could be on the way which would mean major changes.

It comes at time when town and parish councils have to take on responsibility for services prev iously provided by district and county councils.

Exactly what town and parish councils could have to cover has still to be decided but responsibilities could range from the cost of grass cutting to running street cleaning and public toilets.

I understand the increase could be capped at two per cent.

There is the chance that figure could be increase - but only after a public referendum.

In a further twist, the cost of a referendum - around £4,000 in parishes and £6,000 in towns - could be more than the actual money raised by the precept rise.

The prospect of capping came to light at a meeting of Woodhall Spa Parish Council last Tuesday.

Councillors were handed a report - the Local Government Financial Settlement- outlining possible changes to the system.

One proposal would only see capping introduced for town and parish councils with an annual precept of more affect town and parish councils with a precept of than £500,000 - way above the average figure.

However, councillors were told an additional proposal suggested extending capping to ‘all town and parish councils’.

Woodhall chairman Coun David Clarke admitted that would have ‘significant ramifications’ as town and parish councils look at raising revenue to provide more services.

Woodhall parish clerk Amanda Bushell told said a 2% precept rise would only equate to a 70p increase in council tax bills for most properties.

She said that would not raise sufficient funds to pay for more services.

A source close to Horncastle Town Council said they were concerned about the proposals.

The town council could have to take on extra staff to deliver ex-county and district services but without a precept rise, funding could be a major issue.