The Town Council would like to take this opportunity to outline its precept decision, the impact, and the Council’s strategic aspirations.
What is a precept?
The Precept is a tax that Town Council’s charge their local electors to meet their budgetary requirements.
Town Councils do not receive any direct funding from central Government and rely on their Precept, plus any other income they generate from services or facilities they provide. The Town Council Precept is part of the Council Tax and is collected from local electors via their Council Tax payments. It requests this funding from its ‘local billing authority’ – in this case, Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC).
The Precept requirement is the difference between the Town Council’s estimated income and its anticipated spending requirements for the financial year (its budget). The financial year runs from 1st April to 31st March.
Cllr D Strachan (Chairman of the Council’s Finance & General Purposes Committee)
“I am pleased that the Council has been able to set the annual Council Tax precept at a level that will enable it to deliver an improved level of service for the Town.
Officers and Councillors have worked exceptionally hard to produce a budget that complies with all statutory requirements with a Council Tax set that is realistic and affordable to not only maintain the quality of the Council’s assets but also to improve the facilities.
In the current year the Franklin’s recreation ground improvements have been completed and I believe are a credit to the Town. Council Tax enables us to continue to invest in the Council’s assets with further improvements to our recreation grounds included. The Council has also been fortunate to have the support of the Tritax Community Fund which will enable significant improvements to be implemented at the Kitelands recreation ground in the coming year at no cost to the Council.
The refurbishment project of the Drove Road chapel and cemetery continues and the Town Council is considering how it might enhance the Stratton Way cemetery.
In budgeting the Council has ensured that it has sufficient finances to do the essentials but some other desired improvements to the town would result in an unacceptable increase in Council Tax this year.
The Council is mindful that it must have adequate capital reserves to maintain its capital assets to avoid the difficulties that some large councils have found themselves in in the past year.
The increase in the Town Council element of Council Tax for a Band D property is £10.64, equivalent to 20pence per week.
The Council will continue to review its facilities and budgets to ensure that it delivers a good service to the Town at an affordable price.”
WHY IS THE INCREASE NECESSARY
a. Vision for Biggleswade
Our vision for Biggleswade is that it should be a thriving and sustainable market town with a range of employment and community facilities, providing quality of life and economic opportunities to meet the diverse needs of the community and with a high-quality environment, including green spaces, to promote healthy lifestyles.
b. Corporate Aspirations 2021/2025
The town that we serve is growing fast and there are many challenges to be addressed. Those challenges also bring opportunities and we must make the most of those opportunities to improve our town and support our community. The Town Council is changing in order to be the best it can be in delivering our services and to be more effective in representing the vital interests of our community to others. The Corporate Aspirations 2021/2025 sets out our aspirations to enable us to achieve our goals.
If you wish to view our Corporate Aspirations 2021-25 document, please click here.
c. What will the increase be
A precept increase of 5.5% has been agreed and a budget of £1.62m approved. In real terms, this equates to an additional sum of £10.64 per annum or 20p per week for a Band D property.
Local councils work towards improving community well-being and providing better services. Our activities fall into three main categories: representing the local community; delivering services to meet local needs; and striving to improve quality of life and community well-being.
Through an extensive range of discretionary powers, the Council provides and maintains a variety of important and visible local services including allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, car parks, commons and open spaces, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, and planning.
The Council is also required to make proper provision in its accounts for a general reserve, a capital reserve and to take into account any emerging costs as a consequence of changes in national legislation or local context.
Members have very carefully considered the emerging demands upon the Council and have decided to increase revenue budgetary provision for Allotments, Car Parks, Public Conveniences, Recreation Grounds, and Public Realm vehicles and play equipment maintenance. In addition further capital investment has been agreed for Council Car Parks, Recreation Grounds, Public Realm equipment, and the Orchard Community Centre.
d. Public Works Loan Board Investment
The Town Council has allowed for an indicative Public Works Loan borrowing allowance in the 2024/25 financial year, to support the redevelopment of Stratton Way Cemetery and a further 11 play areas.
The Council recognises the benefits to residents physical, mental and emotional health as a result of accessing green spaces.
Consistent with recognised good practice the Council will reach out and consult residents as part of the application process.
e. Our services
Parks and open spaces
BTC owns and manages a number of parks, open spaces and play areas, providing sports facilities, walks by the River Ivel and play areas to suit all ages across the town. There is never a shortage of outdoor activities in the area.
BTC runs and manages markets on a Tuesday and Saturday. At present this is limited to essential traders but we are currently determining how we can transform the Town Centre and complement the retail park.
The Orchard Community Centre in the new housing development off Baden Powell Way is a popular modern venue offering the choice of a Main Hall or a smaller Training Room to suit all requirements.
BTC operates six car parks around Biggleswade, mainly within the town centre.
The Town Council owns and maintains the two cemetery sites on Drove Road and Stratton Way. The Chapel on Drove Road is a Grade II-listed building.
BTC manages an allotment site at Kennel Farm Road that offers plots exclusively to Biggleswade residents.
The rules set by Government are designed to make sure that the Council takes no unacceptable risks with public money. To this end the Council is held to account by both Internal and External audit, the outcomes of which are posted on the Councils website consistent with the Transparency code for Smaller Authorities.
In summary, the Council remain fully committed to delivering improvements throughout the town. Whilst the Council understand that residents may not wish to see a precept increase, it is hoped that residents understand the reasons behind this and value the investments being made to the town to benefit the community.
Town Clerk & Chief Executive