Council ups tax and pledges £50K towards keeping Newtown Day Centre open

Reporter:

Jonny Drury

A DEAL has been struck to keep Newtown’s Park Day Centre open that will see the average council tax bill rise by almost £50 a year.

At Monday’s town council meeting, councillors agreed to dedicate  £50,000  to help fund the Park Day Care Centre.

This comes as a deal has been struck with Powys County Council (PCC) to contribute and maintain a five day a week service at the centre for 2017-18.

Following that, both parties will work together to come to an agreement for the town council to take over the service by March 2018.

In total, the rise for the average band D household in Newtown would be £48.39 per year to secure services.

 Mayor Richard Edwards said: “At the October public meeting, I and other town councillors said we would work hard to protect the services and the deal we have got with PCC allows us to do that.

“Services have been threatened and we have stepped in and contributed.”

Elsewhere in the budget, £30,000 was put forward for the transfer of 116 acres of land from a project involving a host of community groups, with talks still ongoing with PCC.

It would see the town council take over open spaces in the town.

Chair of the resources committee Cllr David Selby recognised that the council would be criticised for a significant hike in council tax, but said they were saving services at risk.

He said: “It has been difficult to get to this point but I am happy with the budget.

“We will take criticism for the cost, but we will carry on working to save services in the town that are at risk.

“The precept is similar to other towns, Llanidloes, Welshpool and Machynlleth, and we will promise to carry on being careful with the town’s money.”

Other financial pledges in the budget are for a £25,000 investment in new Christmas Lights, and continued funding for the town’s key events such as the Leaping Lights River Festival, the food and winter festivals and for other services such as toilets and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

County councillor Gemma Bowker questioned what would happen if the council came into problems.

Cllr Selby added that if that was the case the most sensible thing for the council to do would be to borrow money.

Cllr Edwards added the council was now in a healthier position to help and improve council services.

He said: “This council has spent several years getting to a point where should we need to step in and help protect, preserve and improve services, we have the ability to do so.”

See full story in the County Times

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