Sidmouth councillors approve nine per cent budget boost


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Civic leaders have approved a nine per cent increase in their budget for the ‘maintenance and enhancement’ of Sidmouth.

The town council’s precept – its share of council tax – includes support for Sidmouth in Bloom to recognise the ‘fantastic’ work it does, cash to revamp the skate park, and an additional £10,000 for the Hopper Bus to address its rising costs.

The average band D property will pay the authority £69.54 in 2018/19, up 9.2 per cent from £63.70 last year, which will give it a total of £488,467.

Cllr Paul Wright, who has a special responsibility for finance, told Monday’s meeting: “It’s a budget for the maintenance and enhancement of Sidmouth. We’re hoping to make it more attractive for visitors and residents alike.”

Sidmouth in Bloom work had previously been supported by grants but for 2018/19 the town council allocated £3,000 from its budget to give the organisation more security.

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There will also be £8,000 for grass verge cutting, £1,500 for additional weeding on the main roads and an extra £6,000 for tourism promotion.

The meeting heard there had been a ‘huge’, 50 per cent increase in pricing by operators for the Hopper Bus.

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Cllr Kelvin Dent, the member responsible for the service, said the proposed £8,000 allocation would not be enough and the council would have to dip into its reserves. The meeting heard that half of the £20,000 proposed for the regeneration of Port Royal is not needed this year, so it will be moved to the Hopper.

Whereas passengers could previously give donations, the bus is now set to operate on a fare system with a fee of £1 per journey.

Cllr Wright said there would be an additional £5,000 for the Manstone Lane youth centre, taking the allocation to £18,000, and a doubling of last year’s £20,000 sum for the adjacent sport and play areas – the first step to replacing the skate park. To facilitate this, the fund for Long Park was cut from £8,000 to £1,500.

Members voted to approve the proposed budget.

Residents’ overall council tax bills are also made up of payments to the district and county councils and other authorities.

Sidmouth Town Council has nearly £400,000 in earmarked reserves.

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