Sidmouth Town Council announces 2021 budget

Sidmouth Sea Fest procession with Street Heat on Saturday afternoon. Picture: Simon Horn

Sidmouth Sea Fest will receive support from the town council - Credit: Simon Horn

Nearly £80,000 in funding has been pledged by Sidmouth Town Council to help organisations across the Sid Valley, supporting younger and older residents as well as cultural, sporting and environmental activities.
The council describes its budget for the next financial year as “continuing to support the community and looking forward to the future” and says that with a substantially smaller increase to its precept than in previous years, it is still continuing to maintain an increased level of services.
The commitment to replace the Manstone Youth Centre building has received increased funding while money has also been allocated to continue to support Covid-19 related schemes in the Sid Valley.
Town council chairman Ian Barlow said the council’s grant support for local groups and projects was “just as important, if not more important this year than ever before” and “a small but important part of what we do”.
Cllr Barlow explained: “We try to enable people with local passions to get things done.
“Anything we do has to show it’s good value for the town as a whole. We don’t have the resources to be able to do everything that the public wants but what we do try to do is give ownership to the people.
“We harness the energy and passion in our community and enable it to flourish.”
The town council has supported the festivals that entertain and inspire both residents and visitors alike, including the Science Festival, Sea Fest, Literary Festival, the Carnival and the Walking Festival – while Sidmouth Folk Festival, Sidmouth in Bloom and Sidmouth Town Band continue to receive support.
John Braithwaite, director of The Sidmouth Folk Festival, said: “Sidmouth Town Council's critical support package for the festival proved key in 2020, when the live event had to be cancelled due to the Covid pandemic, helping us to keep moving forward with this major event on the South West’s cultural calendar.
“We are delighted to receive confirmation this week of the council’s 2021 grant, as part of an agreed five-year package which runs to 2023. This is absolutely fundamental as our team strides ahead with plans for the festival’s 67th year. What form the event will take this summer will depend on the Covid regulations in force at the time, but the show will go on, whether that is virtually, communally, or a mixture of the two.”
In line with many other town councils across the country, Sidmouth has been handed more responsibilities than ever before, with many projects that residents have identified as important. To bring some of those priorities forward, while acknowledging the challenging times for the community, the council has agreed to increase its overall precept – which is its share of the council tax – by 4.7%. The increase amounts to a £5.47 annual or 10.5p a week council tax increase for an average property for 2021/22.
The council said this is “to ensure it continues to provide local services for its residents, businesses and visitors”. The increase means the authority’s portion of the annual council tax bill for a band D property will be £89.51 a year, or £1.72 a week.
The council said the precept, which it approved on Monday, January 25, would enable it to continue to provide its many local services and move ahead with its projects such as its aim to provide a replacement building for the Manstone Youth Centre.
The council said it would continue to ensure flower beds were colourful and attractive, and highway verges kept clean and maintained. Water fountains would also continue to be provided along The Esplanade. “Electric charging points will be installed at key locations in the future and advice will be made available to residents to help them reduce their personal carbon footprint,” the council said. 

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