Sidmouth Town Council annual meeting
SIDMOUTH Town Council has been challenged for budgeting more than £112,000 on administration costs in 2008/9. Are you being fair to us as ratepayers?" asked one of 40 residents at the annual town assembly at The Arts Centre last Thursday. Some resident
SIDMOUTH Town Council has been challenged for budgeting more than £112,000 on administration costs in 2008/9. "Are you being fair to us as ratepayers?" asked one of 40 residents at the annual town assembly at The Arts Centre last Thursday.Some residents said the council budget was higher than the cost of living increase: "Yet you are proposing to take more money off us."Concerned about taking on more staff this autumn, Graham Gill, from Bickwell Valley, asked: "Why do we need a deputy town clerk?" Chairman Councillor Tom Cox explained: "We need to provide for the future and long term future," adding: "Look at the reality, we are talking of 1p a day, 7p a week increase."He said with the question of unitary status and boundary changes under discussion, quality town councils such as Sidmouth could take on extra responsibilities."How it comes is guesswork, but one thing is certain, we will get more power not less. If you take away a layer of government you have to devolve power downwards. "We need to prepare for that new age when we get more power."Mr Gill said: "Administration charges have gone up from £89,000 to £112,000. All you are telling me is it is because you might get more work?"Sidmothian Brian Rutley raised a round of applause by questioning whether, if it cost the same amount of money in administration as the the amount being spent on actual services, was it good value for money?Mr Cox said if residents wanted to control their fate and not have a unitary body do it, the council had to be prepared."Sounds as if we are going back to the Urban District Council," said Mr Rutley. "We might take on not just planning for trees and signs but might take on strategic planning," said Mr Cox."Or you might be abolished altogether," commented Mr Rutley.Clerk Trina Jarrett highlighted areas administered by the town council, including the running of public toilets, funding Sidmouth Information Centre, giving £10,000 each for CCTV and Kennaway House, backing the Hopper Bus, funding children's activities during FolkWeek, paying £7,000 for Christmas lighting and giving grants to local organisations.