Council freezes precept for residents

The meeting to decide on the precept was held at Ripon Town Hall.
The meeting to decide on the precept was held at Ripon Town Hall.

Ripon councillors have voted to freeze the parish precept for residents for the 2015/16 financial year.

The precept, which is added to council tax payers’ bills to fund the city council’s budget, was raised last year by three per cent and for the 2012-13 year to fund the city development manager role.

As a parish council, there is no cap on placing a precept and if the precept was raised by three per cent it would add an extra £5,500 to the council’s budget.

Coun Alan Skidmore (Con) said raising the precept by 3 per cent would be at a cost of 98p per annum for residents living in Band D properties, but admitted it was a “no win” situation.

And Coun Sid Hawke (Ind) said he “could not support” raising the precept as he did not “see why we should put the burden on the tax payer”.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Skidmore said North Yorkshire County Council would raise its charges to recover the money spent on the Allerton Park incinerator as, he suspected, would the police and fire services.

Despite the councillors acknowledging that not raising the precept would leave charities and good causes to ‘lose out’, the motion was passed to freeze it with the Mayor, Coun Mick Stanley (Con), and Coun Michael Waiting (Ind) voting against it.

The Mayor of Ripon, Coun Mick Stanley, argued at the meeting that with inflation at 2.5 per cent the council has continually “lost out” by not raising the precept.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “It’s a false economy. Over the 12 years I have been on the council, this council has raised the precept only twice which means that at that value, the money is devalued at 2.5 per cent a year

“We need to be able to maintain all the services but every year we get cut backs on our spend and with inflation it’s a very simple equation because we obviously have less money to play with.

“I think it’s very short-sighted but I understand why my colleagues did not want to raise the precept but it’s setting up a problem and means we can’t give as much to good causes and charities.”

However, Coun Skidmore said he was “very happy” with the setting of the precept but admitted it does set up a problem for the future base budget.

He said: “In fairness, if Harrogate is freezing its council tax then we should also be helping people.

“We have enough money to get by, despite the fact it would only cost a pound every year.

“We have enough coming in and we have various things in place to save money that we can carry through and if that can help people in Ripon then I am happy.”