Trowbridge Town Council agreed to raise the town’s precept by 1.5 per cent. 

Leader of the town council, Stewart Palmen said the budget was responsible and proved the council could be ambitious for the town and its future needs. 

At its full council meeting last night, the town council agreed to approve an extra £2.48 on a Band D property for their Council Tax charge from next April.

This means that the annual precept charge has risen from £164.98 to £167.46 for average Band D houses.

In his opening speech, Cllr Palmen said: "We want to set aside a budget of £20,000 to give to charities in the town who will be recovering from Covid, to support those isolated and in need.

"This ambitious programme will support the Town to participate in the exciting proposals to revamp the Town Centre."

Leader of the conservative group, Antonio Piazza, claimed the precept increase was much lower than the previous year’s rise (7.25 per cent) because of the looming elections in May. A claim which was refuted by many councillors.

Cllr Piazza said there were large cuts to services, adding that he believed it unfair that surrounding villages could access Trowbridge service (such as Active Trowbridge) without paying the town’s precept. 

“There’s no sort of consequences, payment. Most of the services, they can access for free,” he said.

Additionally, he asked if the town council should postpone its plans for Doric Park and save that portion of the budget because of uncertainty surrounding Covid-19. 

He levelled criticism at the town council for its debt of around £15m, claiming this was the highest in the country. 

Cllr Chris Hoar objected to Cllr Piazza’s points regarding the debt. He stated the £15m was more akin to a mortgage, which replaced the town council previously renting private space.

He said that money was well spent because the repayments are finite and rather than the council needing to pay continuously for rented space.

Speaking on the complaints about the budget, it was noted by Cllr Andrew Bryant that no alternative budget was put forward by the Conservative group. 

Councillors voted in favour of the proposed budget and precept increase with 14 voting for four against and Cllr Peter Fuller abstaining.