COUNCIL tax payers in Chippenham face a 37.5 per cent increase in their payments to the town council in 2019-20 when it takes over a basket of new services and assets from Wiltshire Council.

The proposed budget was agreed at a meeting of the strategy and resources committee last week and has yet to be approved by the Full Council but it would add £65.41 to the bill of a band D household, taking it from £174.20 to £239.61 a year.

Devolution will see the town council taking over the freehold of Wiltshire Council properties including Monkton Park and Golf Course, the Neeld Community and Arts Centre, the Yelde Hall, and the Donkey fields, as well as play areas such as Audley Road and Westmead Terrace. They will also take on a raft of local responsibilities, such as running the town markets, litter picking and grass cutting.

Coun Peter Hutton expressed unease about the increase, particularly for residents on fixed incomes, and suggested the increase should be 30 per cent.

"That's my view. Sadly I can't support this going forward as it is," he said.

Town council chief executive Mark Smith warned that if the town council did not take over the local services, Chippenham would suffer.

"The service standards will probably decline rapidly, given Wiltshire Council's financial situation. The town would become untidier and less attractive to visitors and our residents," he said.

Coun Sandie Webb said the increase amounted to around an extra £1.50 a week per Chippenham household: "The town just down the road from us charges £212 and does not provide half of that we provide," she said. The draft budget for Calne Town Council set the Band D cost at £210.31 for 2019/20.

Coun Teresa Hutton said: "We know that Wiltshire Council will be putting theirs up, and the police authority and fire authority, and it will affect our residents."