The current international situation in Ukraine is exacerbating energy costs and contributing further to the so-called ‘cost of living’ crisis which sees the current UK inflation rate at 5.4% and widely expected to be over 7% in the coming weeks. As families across our town know, keeping tabs on household finances is imperative and it’s no different at the Town Council, where we have an obligation to ensure every expenditure is scrutinised and represents value for money.

With council tax bills landing on doorsteps this week, please be assured that the Council has very carefully costed all our plans and has confidence that Shepton will see benefit as a result. The Institute for Local Government models that for every £1 spent at a town or parish level, long-term return is worth £7. And of course, all money that goes into the precept (the Town Council element of the council tax) is spent entirely in Shepton.

We continue to pick up services and duties formally carried out by other agencies; in the last 12 months we’ve had to contribute a third of the cost of the Market Place resurfacing and we have a long-term financial commitment to keeping our library open; formally tasks delivered by county. In the background, the Council also contributes to Mendip Citizens Advice, the YMCA and many local voluntary and community groups via our two community grants and donations schemes. Details for all our projects and funding are on our website.

Also this year we have some exceptional costs to incur from the local government reorganisation project. This top-down driven initiative is well underway, and we have ring-fenced funds to help protect assets that might be at risk from divestment from public ownership in the future.

Investment is just that; far from cutting back at a time of hardship, the most effective way of ensuring long-term prosperity is to ensure the town has effective plans and invests accordingly to ensure it continues to improve and be a wonderful place to live.

Until next time,

Matt Harrison, Chair, Shepton Mallet Town Council