Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Launceston town council precept - what do you want?

Launceston town council (of which I am a member) is starting the process of deciding its budget for next year. This will affect council tax as the town council precept is added to local bills.

The town council has been willing in the past to take on services from Cornwall Council. In some cases - public toilets for example - there has been a grant paid by Cornwall to cover the costs. This grant probably won't be available permanently, but by and large covers the extra costs for the time being. Other services, like grass cutting, are taken on as a contract with the town council being paid to provide a service. Finally, there are some services that Cornwall has got out of altogether. The town council has chosen to take them on rather than seeing them be lost. The tourist information centre is an example.

In the future, the town council seems willing to consider taking on more services - some with money attached and some without. I want to know whether this approach is backed by local residents. Particularly in the case of services that would otherwise be lost, are you happy to see Launceston town council take on services and raise the precept (which affects council tax) to cover this?

And what about the overall level of service provided by the town council? We manage parks and gardens, the Laurence House Museum, the cemetery, Southgate Arch, Tourist Information Centre, town square and public toilets, as well as the town hall and multi-storey car park. What do you think of these services and do you think they are value for money?

Finally, what do you think is reasonable in terms of the town precept and therefore the amount added to your council tax bill to pay for the town council's work? Cornwall Council is limited to raising its element of council tax by a maximum of 2% without a public referendum. What would a reasonable rise be for the town council, or would you object to any rise at all?

I'd be grateful for any local readers to give me their thoughts on these issues or anything else relating to the local budget. I'm also putting together a survey to ask these, and more, questions to help me think about what is right for our local town budget for next year.

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