Council tax hike to help fix ‘shabby’ Chipping Norton

Cars in Chipping Norton parked on a single yellow line and in disabled bays outside the Town Hall.'090714E-C026
Cars in Chipping Norton parked on a single yellow line and in disabled bays outside the Town Hall.'090714E-C026

Chipping Norton Town Council is to raise its share of the council tax bill by 37 per cent so it can tackle costly projects that need attention in the town.

At its December meeting town council members unanimously approved an increase in the annual precept from £137,197 charged in 2013-14 to £191,877 for the year 2014-15.

This equates to a £22 annual increase for Band D tax payers and a £37 increase for Band G residents.

Deputy Mayor Chris Butterworth said the hike is the only way the council can afford projects such as the upkeep of the town hall, which requires a £400,000 spend to repair the roof and its soft limestone exterior.

He explained: “The town hall roof is leaking again and today (Tuesday) after the big storm we had two leaks, so now we have buckets in place. The town hall is something 
of a millstone around our necks.”

He added: “We’re quite shabby compared to other towns.”

The main reason for the increase cited by councillors however is the town council having to pay for services being progressively cut back by West Oxfordshire District Council and Oxfordshire County Council in line with austerity measures.

Cllr Butterworth said: “We’re having to pay for rather more because the county and district don’t do what they used to.

“We have to organise all our own snow clearing because the highways only do the main roads and buy salt for the grit bins because the county council only fills them up once.

“We have to look after our own flower beds, buy dog bins and clear our own pavements. We can’t afford it.”

Chipping Norton’s council tax remains low compared to most other UK towns however. Calne in Wiltshire, for example, has twice the population but collected £1.2 million compared to Chippy’s £150,000 last year.

Reduced grants from WODC, which make up the remainder of the council’s income, are also a factor with a reduction from £12,803 in 2013-14 to £9,907 in 2014-15 and further reductions expected in future years.

l Do you think Chipping Norton Town Council should raise its council tax precept by 37 per cent? Post your comments on the Banbury Guardian Facebook page or Tweet us @banburynews #chippycounciltaxhike