To receive the report of the Member Budget Working Group
Councillor Hodson presented the report of the Member Budget Working Group, the purpose of which was to update Members with the proposals of the Working Group to reduce Torridge Council’s financial deficit.
A slide presentation, delivered by Councillor Hodson, highlighted the background and remit of the group, areas that were reviewed, proposed savings/additional income and the difficulties still faced, not only by the group but Torridge District Council as a whole.
It was agreed that Leisure Services would not be debated at the group meetings until after Active Torridge had reported back to Full Council in October 2022.
Councillor Hodson expanded on the reasons for the removal of the Discretionary Rate Relief.
A discussion followed where various comments/questions were addressed.
Councillor Pennington asked if there was a possibility of reduced income from Business Rates if businesses were to close this winter. The Finance Manager (S151 Officer) advised that Business Rates would still be applicable and would become the responsibility of the owner of the premises.
Councillor Hicks expressed his opposition to the removal of the Discretionary Rate Relief for Village Halls. The Finance Manager (S151 Officer) advised of alternative ways Village Halls could make up the 20% they would lose from Torridge District Council and monies they had received during the Covid pandemic.
Councillor Christie advised he would like to see TDC support the Foodbanks on a corporate level and asked for an amendment to the recommendations. The additional recommendation to state foodbanks to be covered by alternative equivalent funding delivered by the Council, Councillor Hodson supported the additional recommendation.
In response to a query from Councillor Jones, the Head of Communities & Place provided additional information on the charges for Northam Burrows and the car parks in Westward Ho!.
Councillor Hodson advised that the Member Budget Working Group would continue to examine all avenues for increased savings and invited any suggestions or ideas from other Members to be directed to either herself, the Chair, the Leader, or Group Leaders. A further report from the Member Budget Working Group would be presented at Full Council on 12th December 2022.
The Head of Communities & Place advised, following a query from Councillor Hames, that a parking machine at Northam Pool and Bonehill car park would not be necessary as payments could be made via an app.
It was proposed by Councillor Hodson seconded by Councillor Christie and –
1. That the car parking charges as detailed in 3.1 of the report be approved.
2. That the increase in charges for vehicular access to Northam Burrows as detailed in 3.2 of the report be approved.
3. That Members grants be reduced to £1k per elected members - £36k in total – be approved.
4. That the following changes to discretionary rate relief policy be agreed:
· To remove discretionary rate relief for all Village Halls
· To phase out discretionary relief for all other recipients by 5% per annum
5. That the increase to the garden waste charge to £52 from 1st April 2023 be approved.
6. That additional Council Tax premiums: for Empty Homes (100% premium after empty for one year), 100% premium on second homes be agreed.
7. That foodbanks within the Torridge District Council area are covered by alternative equivalent funding delivered by Torridge District Council.
(Vote: For – 19, Against – 4, Abstentions – 3)