Parish to increase precept by 132 per cent

The Armstrong Cross in Rothbury.
The Armstrong Cross in Rothbury.

Villagers will be paying an average of 92 pence a week extra on their council tax after Rothbury Parish Council decided to increase its precept by almost £30,000 a year.

At January’s monthly meeting, councillors were mixed in their views to a rates hike.

But despite some reservations, a majority vote decided that the budget for 2014/15 would be set at £52,000, compared to £22,413 in 2013/14.

Last month, a figure of £45,000 for the parish was mooted, but refused.

But last week Coun Jeff Reynalds suggested an increase to just over £35,000, but that was also refused on vote.

However, Coun Steven Bridgett counter-proposed to up the amount to what was accepted, as there are a number of projects in the village that need to be completed.

He said: “We have got a number of capital projects within the village that have been put on the back burner for a number of years that we need to tackle before they get worse.

“One of them is the Armstrong Cross and there are other issues such as the village greens that need looking at.”

Coun Mark Gilson, voted for the increase. He said: “We spend all our time telling the world what a wonderful place we live in, but I have been ashamed to walk around it these last six months.

“I really do believe if Rothbury is what we say it is, the heart of Coquetdale, we should make sure that it is a really beautiful place 365 days a year.”

The increase also comes after central Government announced plans to cap parish precept rises at a limit of five per cent.

But Coun Brian Hesler was not in favour of the increase. He said: “Many people are struggling financially at the moment.

“Some people won’t be able to afford it.

“We have got a large ageing population in the area and I have a big concern about increasing it.

“I think it is far too much and I think it will be highly criticised by the electorate.”