Published: February 18, 2009
Burnham council tax rates rise by 4.5% as other public charges rise

Council tax rates in Burnham-On-Sea will rise by an average of 4.5 per cent in the coming year and some car parking charges are also set to increase under budget plans approved by the district council on Wednesday afternoon (February 18th).

Sedgemoor District Council has set its proportion of the Council Tax at 4.5%, which equates to a rise on a Band D property from £121.38 to £126.84 per year.

In order to plug the council's funding shortfall of £1.2m, it also announced on Wednesday brand new cost savings and income generation proposals in local services.

£250,000 of income will be generated from a review of fees and charges. After months of speculation, the district council confirmed that it will increase the price of parking on Berrow beach to £4, as is charged at other beaches, and it will introduce a £2 charge for disabled parking on Berrow Beach.

However, the council has tried to soften the blow by introducing a new £75 season ticket for parking on Berrow Beach which it hopes will help local residents and dog-walkers.

It will also introduce extended charging times along Burnham's seafront to raise further income around the year.

Further savings, amounting to £500,000, will come from Burnham's Princess Hall and Burnham's Tourist Information Centre being given lower subsidies, rather than adopting the current arrangement where the net expenditure is funded.

"The aim of this option is to move the trading units towards a situation where they are moving to a break-even position in the longer term. It is recommended that funding is used towards the Tourist Information Centres for the first year to assist with the transition," council spokeswoman Claire Faun explained to Burnham-On-Sea.com.

The council will also begin charging for pre-planning advice from its conservation officer, increase the charges for garden waste bins to £30, and increase advertising opportunities in floral areas across the district.

Meanwhile, so-called "low impact" savings of £300,000 will also be made. These will involve the removal of vacant district council posts including a food technical officer, an IS student, an admin post monitoring CCTV, a toilet cleaning post and a workshop maintenance post.

There will also be "medium impact" saving" of £200,000 which will see admin support reduced within the council's planning department, a Housing Officer post being removed, and the council's support services department being overhauled.

The council public funding will be directed towards its priorities for the coming year, which were agreed on Wednesday as being housing, efficiency, regeneration and the environment.

"It is into these functions that the Council has directed its limited resources, which have also been impacted upon by the recession and credit crunch," spokeswoman Claire Faun told Burnham-On-Sea.com.

To that end, a 'credit crunch fund' of over £100,000 has been established to provide additional targeted support where it is most needed.

Sedgemoor District Council has already put extra resources into key services that help those most in need, such as families facing job losses.

"An additional £150,000 will be put into Clean Surroundings to continue to improve the cleanliness and maintenance of the district; both to make it a more pleasant place in which to live, but also with the intention of supporting inwards investment and tourism," added Claire Faun.

"There will also be a grant of £9,000 for Berrow Parish Council to help with the cost of beach cleaning."

Click here to read the council leader's full speech explaining the budget changes





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