Precept increased, despite objections

COUNCILLORS have agreed to make a controversial increase in Whitby’s parish precept.

At a fiery meeting on Tuesday (1 Feb), councillors voted to bring in a rise of almost 3% for 2011/2012, despite objections from other councillors who said it should not be done during the economic crisis.

The increase will be the equivalent of £1.35 per year on a Band D property with the precept rising from £221,000 to £229,000.

Councillor Mike Murphy who is chairman of the finance and general purposes committee said: “It’s still below the rate of inflation. We had tried to keep it at zero.”

But councillors Amanda Smith and Ian Havelock queried some of the figures distributed at the meeting including cash allocated for roof repairs to Whitby Museum and Pannett Art Gallery and funds set aside to resurface Stakesby Vale, a private road.

Coun Havelock said he was sure some savings were possible.

“There are some questions that need to be asked about some expenditure within the council,” he said. “I certainly would not wish to increase the precept.

“It’s a substantial amount for people on low incomes. To say you have gone through this with a fine tooth comb as a committee, you need to go back through it. There are many areas where savings could be made and should be made.

“It’s not the amount. The perception is a very poor one from the town.”

But Coun Sue Boyce said all councillors had seen the minutes from the finance and general purposes committee when the precept was discussed and they had to provide the information to Scarborough Borough Council on Wednesday this week.

And Coun Niall Carson told fellow councillors: “£1.35 is really quite small when you think of all the treasures in this art gallery. The real increase will come from North Yorkshire County Council and North Yorkshire Police.”

Councillors held a recorded vote and a motion in favour of approving the rise in the precept was agreed.