Town hall set to take on more services

PUBLISHED: 15:26 13 August 2015 | UPDATED: 15:26 13 August 2015

Derek Parsons starts the job of removing the Tourist Information signs thsi week. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6367-49-13SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Derek Parsons starts the job of removing the Tourist Information signs thsi week. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6367-49-13SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

Archant

Residents might have to pay more to keep Exmouth tidy, as the town hall is burdened with services that used to be carried out by the district and county councils.

On Monday, town councillors said that the authority could be called on take on more things, like street cleaning, grass cutting and town maintenance, over the next few years.

The town council has already taken on to watering the flower towers from East Devon District Council, and it also carries out ‘supplementary’ street cleaning.

The town hall has two employees, one full-time and one temporary, to carry out the work.

At the meeting, Green Park resident June Dingle complained that a green space near her home had been left to grow unchecked, as a result of county budget cuts.

Town councillor Jeff Trail had cut the area himself.

This prompted a wider debate among councillors about the services that the town hall might have to take on in the future.

One councillor warned that this could lead to Exmouth council tax payers paying an increased ‘precept’ – the bit of the council tax that goes to the town council – just to maintain the town as it looks now.

Councillors agreed buy a £15,000 van to help with work around the town.

Councillor Fred Caygill said: “I think this is a bit premature. “Earlier, we were discussing grass cutting, and this van may not be what is required.

“We don’t know what is going to happen in the immediate future.

“I propose we wait to make a decision, to see if we do have to take grass cutting or anything like this on.”

Town clerk Lisa Bowman said: “We have two staff, one responsible for the flower towers and one doing supplementary street cleaning.

“We only have one van and we are severely restricted in how we deploy those employees.

“The van we have on lease has to go back at the end of the year.

“The proposal is that we buy a second van now, so we have a leased van and a purchased van running concurrently, so we can deploy two members of staff to their maximum effect until the end of the year, at which point we will have a choice.”

Councillor Brian Toye: “The staff are going to be doing more, not less, as the county and district councils do less.

“We may have to bite the bullet and increase the precept to take on these services.”

The chairman of the town hall’s finance committee, David Chapman, said: “As you rightly say, by consulting your crystal ball, there are a lot of things that are winging their way to us financially.

“We must be the council of last resort, unfortunately, and therefore we have to look at that.”

Councillor Mark Williamson said: “We have to look ahead to the fact that we are going to be taking on more responsibility.

“Much will be expected of us.”

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