A Conservative councillor has failed in his bid to persuade Trowbridge Town Council to defer setting its precept until February.

Cllr Daniel Cave, the leader of the Tory opposition, wanted the Liberal Democrat-run council to defer setting its precept so that members could further examine his ‘alternative budget’ proposals.

But at Tuesday’s full council meeting, his motion to defer was lost, and councillors also voted against his alternative budget, which he outlined at last week’s policy and resources committee meeting.

Wiltshire Times: Cllr Daniel Cave, the Conservative Group leader on Trowbridge Town Council.Cllr Daniel Cave, the Conservative Group leader on Trowbridge Town Council. (Image: Daniel Cave)

They approved the budget and precept for the next financial year set out by the council’s chief executive and town clerk Lance Allan, who said last week that Cllr Cave’s budget would result in up to 38 jobs being lost.

Mr Allan said the overall impact of Cllr Cave's alternative budget would be to reduce the council’s 69 full-time staff to just 31. 

A Unison trade union representative also criticised the proposals at Tuesday's full council meeting, saying that Cllr Cave's public announcement on local social media in December had made a consultation with the council's workforce "meaningless".

Cllr Cave revealed he had tried to "collaborate" with other councillors over the weekend to discuss his budget in more detail but his approaches had been rebuffed.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Mel Jacob said she felt they were being "put under pressure" to make a decision. "You are asking us to make a decision on the hoof. I don't feel comfortable with that."

Liberal Democrat Cllr David Vigar said Cllr Cave had "ample opportunity" to outline his proposals to other councillors since the P&R committee meeting but had failed to do so.  

Cllr Cave said the council's 61 per cent increase in the precept over the past three years was "unsustainable" and that the council was refusing to look at cost-efficiences.

But Liberal Democrat Cllr David Cavill felt the council was achieving value-for-money and offering  quality and service.

Afterwards, Cllr Cave said: “Families in Trowbridge have faced significant challenges, navigated financial hardships and have made sacrifices.

“Unfortunately, Trowbridge Council seems disconnected from the struggles of everyday people and refuses to do the same.

“Their insistence on a 23 per cent tax increase, resulting in a staggering 61 per cent rise over just three years, is both perplexing and concerning.

“Despite my efforts to collaborate with council members, it appears there's a lack of willingness to consider alternative solutions.

“In response to their expressed concerns in the meeting last week, I diligently crafted a revised budget over the weekend, proposing a modest 1.8 per cent increase.

“This adjusted budget aimed to address their worries while maintaining essential services like The Civic operation and green space maintenance in-house. Regrettably, the council declined to engage with the proposed changes.

“In contrast, my budget prioritised community enhancements, such as my Trowbridge Park Revitalisation Plan.

"This includes initiatives like a working pond, a splash pad, upgrades to the bandstand and mini-golf, public toilets, and new and inclusive play equipment.

“It's evident that Trowbridge Town Council's budget lacks a clear vision and effective execution. The issue is not that Trowbridge residents are taxed too little, the issue is that Trowbridge Town Council spends too much."

The budget approved by the council calls for a net precept requirement of £3,228,982.

This would result in a total increase of £50.34 or 22.85 per cent on the Trowbridge Town Council Band D Council Tax charge to £270.65, which is less than £5.21 per week.

In contrast, Cllr Cave’s original alternative budget would have resulted in a net precept requirement of £2,659,653, taking the Trowbridge Town Council Band D Council Tax to £222.93, an increase of £2.61 or 1.19 per cent.