Town Council Meeting – Tuesday 30th January 2018

Last evening after a lengthy and sometimes acrimonious debate the Town Council voted by seven votes to five for a budget that represented in real terms a 12% increase. For a Band D property this equates to a 28 pence increase per week or £14.37 for the year. Those voting against were Councillors J Bartlett S Davies B Height J Marsh and J Parham and those in favour were C Inchley G Kennedy D Losey M Lovell R Scott N Shearn and D Towner. Those members who voted against countered with proposal for a 0% increase which was subsequently defeated by the same recorded number 5/7.

The Town Clerk Mr Bruce Poole explained to the members that a 0% increase would see a deficit budget materialising when set against increased costs of maintaining Collett Park (£70,000) and the Town’s Open Spaces (74,000). The annual Collett Festival which is a much liked town event also comes at a cost but is readily acknowledged that it is a service to the community where other local charitable organisations can raise their public profile and sometimes hard earned funds. The Town Council will continue to give grants to local organisations such as they did in 2017/2018 e.g. CCTV – TIC – Snowdrop Festival – GeturSkates on – when appropriately applied for (£34,000). The Town Council agreed that they had a continuing undertaking and a legal responsibility towards the current staff in respect to salaries increases recently announced by the LGA and Government. The advent of GDPR also has the potential of increasing office costs.

Legislation would continue to be a challenge in respect to employment and the Town Council has taken steps to ensure that they are up to date with regard to HR and Health & Safety requirements. They will continue to manage their major assets being the Market Cross Cenotaph and Collett Park all of which by their very nature come with often high maintenance costs. Unlike other local councils Shepton Town Council does not have any asset earning streams other than two allotment sites that produce £1600 pa.

Martin Lovell, Chairman, Shepton Mallet Town Council