A DEBATE broke out at Trowbridge Town Council over the proposed 19 per cent rise in the town’s precept. 

In a statement, town council leader, Stewart Palmen said that the rise was due to the upcoming street and green space cleaning services that would soon be taken over from Wiltshire Council. 

The move would help the town “making Trowbridge a greener, more vibrant and more active town”.

What this proposal would mean is a £32.64 rise in the town council element of the council tax bill. The precept makes up just part of the overall council tax bill. 

For average Band D properties this equates to a rise from £167.46 to £200.10. 
There are also plans to freeze the precept until 2025.

READ MORE: PCC says there is 'no alternative' but to raise police tax by maximum amount - have your say

Deputy mayor Graham Hill said the issue had been brought up by a number of residents, some of whom were going through tough financial times. 

He also looked to clarify that the rise was not due to the issues surrounding Doric Park and if this option was being forced on the council. 

“While I’m supportive of Trowbridge Town Council doing a far better job than is being done at the moment; I would question if this is the right moment to do that.” 

Town clerk Lance Allen said that the town council was taking on the services as those provided by the unitary authority are “not acceptable to the residents of Trowbridge”. 

It was also confirmed the rise was nothing to do with Doric Park. 
Cllr Andrew Bryant agreed saying the residents deserved much better. 

READ MORE: Bid to turn agricultural building into a house rejected

Against the rise, Cllr Antonio Piazza said that he disagreed that the town council was “being forced” to take on the services, citing other smaller parishes resisting the transfer.  

He added that the “league table” showing the rise in tax compared with other towns was “unfair” as they had different or smaller tax bases. 

While Cllr Palmen said there are plans to freeze the precept until 2025; Cllr Piazza asked – based on a Wiltshire Times web comment – why this could not be done in smaller yearly increments. 

Cllr Bryant said, on the timing of the increase, that the town council could not necessarily dictate when projects were going ahead and would not raise the precept without cause. 

There was also an issue around double taxing. Where it was seen as unlikely that Wiltshire would drop its precept to accommodate the services taken on in other areas. 

READ MORE: Highways maintenance contracts will go out to bidders

This, Cllr Bryant added was a concern that would need to be taken up at the county level. 

Cllr Cave said that due to the rise in funding going to leisure services – that the blame could not be laid squarely at the feet of the unitary authority. 

Cllr Stephen Cooper wanted to be absolutely sure that when the proposed increase is communicated to the public that is a small part of the overall council tax bill. 

He added that he did not follow the tax base thinking put forward by Cllr Piazza – and that it was not a reason for the council to not take the opportunity. 

“We’re a larger town; we need improving I think we all know that,” he said. “I’m sure we can all agree that we should be taking any opportunity we can.” 

READ MORE: Cabinet member for finance to stand down to focus on business

The precept will be set at Full Council on Tuesday, January 18.