DESPITE reservations from Cllr Harry Forbes, the precept for Marlborough Town Council has been set at 3.81 per cent by Cllr Andy Ross and agreed unanimously by councillors.

At the full council meeting on December 10, the Finance & Policy Committee Chair, Cllr Ross outlined the budget for the coming year which had been passed by the committee without any changes.

He said it was probably the most important decision the council had to make each year.

Cllr Ross said: “The combined budgets for all the committees were put together which produced a precept rise of 8.95 per cent which was considered was a startling figure.”

With more ‘devolution coming’ he said it was thought a lower figure should be considered.

“A less controversial sum which they agreed upon was 3.81 per cent,” he said, “I would like to say we not unanimous as Cllr Harry Forbes felt the increase should be closer to inflation but I felt it would weaken the council financially at this stage.”

He said they had to look for savings by trimming money for the Open Spaces money, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the town hall’s maintenance which he described at ‘swinging cuts’ but brought the precept down to a more acceptable figure, but there should be a surplus which may cover some of cuts. These including possibly the cemetery extension amongst others as well as funding for the Merchants House.

Cllr Ross was asked about the cemetery expansion as if it was not funded the town could be ‘running out of space’.

“We are holding a sum of £26,000,” he said, “so there is money set aside, which could cover two acres of farm land. I will hope to increase the amount at the end of the year from any surplus.”

The Town Clerk Shelley Parker told the meeting that the proposal was for the total net budget precept requirement levied towards the council was £669,879 representing a 3.81 per cent rise, which would mean a council tax Band D figure of £195.19pa which equates to a rise of £7.16p or 59p per month.

The councillors then voted unanimously to back the proposal.