RESIDENTS living in Melksham Without areas will see their council tax rise by 6.17% in the 2024/25 financial year, following a unanimous vote by parish councillors.
The council say they have strived to keep the increase as low as possible whilst still maintaining services and investing in local facilities.
The precept, the proportion of council tax paid to the parish council, was discussed at the full Melksham Without Parish Council (MWPC) meeting held on Monday 22nd January.
Councillors unanimously voted for the increase, that will see residents pay £261,592 for the 2024/25 financial year, which is an increase of £16,320.97 (6.65%) on last year’s precept. This means that the average Band D household will contribute £89.94 to MWPC, a £5.23 (6.17%) rise on last year. (Band D properties are used as a measure of the national average).
Chair of MWPC, cllr John Glover said, “The parish council have strived to keep the cost low for residents and within the level of inflation, whilst maintaining services and investing in assets.”
A statement from the council says, “The parish council run a number of facilities and services in the parish from this precept funding and support a number of community ventures in both the parish, as well as those in the town and villages outside the parish.
“It currently runs and maintains five play areas (Berryfield, Shaw, Beanacre and Kestrel Court & Hornchurch Road in Bowerhill), with two more being taken on from the developers in the new housing developments in the Bellway development on Semington Road and the Taylor Wimpey development in Pathfinder Place, Bowerhill. In addition, it also owns two playing fields, one in Bowerhill and one in Shaw (The Beeches). The parish council has taken on some additional grasscutting, on public open space owned by Wiltshire Council, to improve the cutting in some areas and for wildflower meadow areas in patches on the public open spaces. The parish council has two allotment sites, both in Berryfield, which have a full occupancy of 70+ tenants at present.
“The parish council contributes to a variety of joint ventures with Melksham Town Council such as the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan, development of Shurnhold Fields mini country park and the public toilets in the Market Place.
“As well as joint ventures, the parish council provides grant funding, £37,700 in the current financial year, with the same amount budgeted for next year.
“These grants provide valuable funding for all the village halls in the parish; Shaw, Bowerhill, Whitley Reading Rooms and the new hall in Berryfield, as well as wide spread of clubs, support groups and organisations that provide sporting activities, village publications, events and activities for young and old.
“The grants are for those organisations that benefit the residents of Melksham Without, so are not all contained in the parish, some are based in the town or in other villages outside the parish.
“In addition, the parish council has pledged up to £12,000 to continue to provide additional proactive support to the most vulnerable residents in the parish. Age UK Wiltshire provides a range of support, advice, guidance and practical help to residents and the new funded service is to provide additional, tailored, dedicated support in the parish and town in a project funded by the parish council, Melksham Town Council and the Wiltshire Council area board.
“The Parish Council has received additional funding from the Government’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) scheme which is a levy directly on new housing developments in the parish.
“When budget setting, the council have not put money into reserves for future projects that could be paid for from CIL and will look to use the CIL funding for a variety of infrastructure projects, including the repayment of the public works loan for the building of the new village hall at Berryfield.
“Other uses include contributions to highway improvements through the Wiltshire Council’s Local Highways & Footpath Improvement Group (LHFIG); Real Time Information at bus stops, the planned car park and improved entrance at Shurnhold Fields and the new outdoor gym and exercise equipment at Bowerhill Sports Field.
“The community funding received from Sandridge Solar Farm has been used this year and for next, to fund cleaning of the play areas’ safety surfacing, tree works, pavement weed spraying, new street furniture and the fortnightly installation of the Speed Indicator Devices across the parish.”
A copy of the minutes of the parish council’s finance committee meeting on Monday 8th January, when the budget was discussed in detail, is available to view on the parish council website.