Mayor’s fears over future of town’s finances

PUBLISHED: 07:56 12 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:25 17 April 2013

Archant

The good times may be coming to an end for Budleigh Salterton’s ratepayers, according to town mayor Courtney Richards.

He was speaking at this week’s annual town meeting, in his role as chairman of the town council’s finance committee.

In the annual finance report, Cllr Richards said that as in previous years the council’s finances were in good shape – meaning no increase in its council tax precept for the fourth year running.

But he added: “I have got a nasty feeling the good times are coming to an end.”

Cllr Richards said the council was facing increased costs for utilities and insurance at its buildings, plus the cost of insuring the Jubilee shelter, which it took over from East Devon District Council last year.

It also faces uncertainty over the Upper Station Road car park, with a costly bid to buy it a possibility to prevent East Devon District Council from making it pay and display.

The meeting saw support from members of the public for the council to robustly fight any pay-and-display move, and the town council’s district councillors said they were lobbying strongly for there to be a rethink.

County councillor Christine Channon also backed this stance, saying: “If it becomes pay and display people will park in the roads all around, causing huge problems.”

In his speech as mayor, Cllr Richards also criticised Devon County Council’s decision to install parking meters in the town, saying: “Apparently the council needs the revenue more than shopkeepers need income.”

In more positive news, the mayor highlighted the town council’s decision to employ a handyman for one or two days a week to improve the appearance of the town, and its decision to replace dilapidated railings near the gentleman’s club.

The meeting also saw members of the public ask questions of the council, with many calling for improved communication, possibly through consultation meetings or additional newsletters.

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