Town Council commitments without higher tax charge
Cllr Kieron Mallon: “Banbury Town Council is ahead of the game”
Banbury Town Council says it plans to boost its green credentials and provide improved services – all without increasing its share of the council tax bill.
The town’s annual budget meeting on Tuesday was told that the council tax precept would stay at £122.12 for the 2021/2022 financial year – the eleventh year running that the town’s share of the total tax bill has not gone up.
The meeting, held using the ‘zoom’ facility, heard that smart investments in recent years meant savings could be made in a number of areas while allowing the council to keep its green promises and improve services.
In January last year the council committed to tackling climate change and over the past twelve months has launched a series of green initiatives. Its grounds maintenance contractors have introduced carbon reduction initiatives and bio diversity enhancements into their maintenance programme.
A new wood chipper will save money on green waste disposal by enabling recycling to be carried out on site instead of using diesel fuel to transport it – and investment into a vehicle replacement fund, currently worth £140,000, will help finance a move to electric vehicles.
Leader of the council Kieron Mallon said: “We have taken steps to reduce our carbon footprint. We will push on with green projects and do all we can to fight climate change.”
He added: “Our contractors, local company 4th Corner, are addressing the carbon footprint of the town. Tree planting initiatives and biodiversity projects are high on the agenda.
“This will, of course, continue the existing tree management and planting projects we have undertaken over many years.”
In other areas, the council will deliver on its pledge to provide toilets and café facilities in People’s Park and there will be an increased investment in the Woodgreen Outdoor Pool following a year of restricted opening and reduced income in 2020/2021.
Following last year’s play area refurbishments at Ferriston and Stanbridge, spending for 2021/2022 will include the refurbishment of the Hill View and Timms Road play areas and the final phase of a three-year refurbishment of paths and facilities in People’s Park.
The coming year will also see the completion of landscaping projects in St Mary’s Churchyard and the walled garden in People’s Park, along with fencing replacement across a number of other parks.
Last year, coronavirus forced the cancellation of all the town’s annual events and prevented local elections from going ahead. Both are being budgeted for in the 2021/2022 figures.
The town council has taken over the full £50,000 running costs of the Christmas street lights after its partnership with Cherwell District Council came to end – and is also budgeting to continue the successful light projections on to the town hall and Castle Quay façades.
Cllr Mallon said: “Banbury Town Council is ahead of the game. We put plans into place in previous years and made investments that are now benefitting our residents.
“Coronavirus was something no-one could foresee and times have been difficult for many families and local organisations because of lockdowns and other restrictions. Keeping council tax down will help a lot of people.
“The council also launched a covid-19 grant scheme in March 2020 to help good causes in Banbury that were facing financial difficulties because of the virus. Since then we have given 24 grants worth nearly £12,000. Those grants are still available.”
The total council tax bill consists of four charges – from Oxfordshire County Council, Cherwell District Council, Thames Valley Police, and Banbury Town Council.