Higher bills on way as Newmarket Town Council votes to hike charges by 14%
Council tax payers in Newmarket will face higher bills next year after town councillors agreed unanimously to increase the authority’s charges by more than 14 per cent.
At a meeting of the town council on Monday, members reluctantly accepted that a rise in their portion of the overall council tax demand was necessary if the authority was to continue to be able to fund improvements to the town, like the refurbishment of the memorial hall gardens and boost its reserves which members heard were low compared to those of neighbouring similar sized towns such as Haverhill, Stowmarket and Thetford.
The increase will mean a rise of £15.15 a year for a Band D property in Newmarket, around 29p a week, and will bring the council’s annual precept up to £665,114 for 2020/21.
“It is clearly a larger increase than we would want,” said Labour councillor Mick Jefferys.
“We have to have good reasons to increase our bill and we are doing good things in the town like the memorial hall gardens refurbishment.
“I am also very aware of the reserves situation and more important are our earmarked reserves which are there to cover anything unexpected which might come up in the future.”
“We are going to have to bite the bullet and we need to warn our residents this may have to happen in future years to keep our reserves up.”
Deputy mayor Cllr James Lay added: “Our town needs work , we need to uplift it and make it better and, at the moment there is nothing in the budget for taking any new projects forward.
“We just don’t have enough money to do things and if we are going to move forward we have to make this jump.”
After the meeting in a statement, agreed by councillors, town mayor Cllr Rachel Hood said: “The council is a financially responsible organisations and a 29p per week per Band D household will enable us to be confident in our future plans for the benefit of the community.”
The statement said the council’s future plans included improving the market, enhancements to the High Street and Sun Lane, engagement with youth projects, helping to find a permanent home for a town museum, and a memorial to remember those killed in the High Street bombing of February1941.
Increasing its reserves will help the authority meet the cost of legal representation at next year’s inquiry when it will be backing residents in their fight to keep the Wetherby railway foot crossing open.