'Standstill' budget precept approved for Haworth

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor John Huxley Councillor John Huxley

Parish councillors have unanimously agreed to a budget which will involve no increase in the precept levied on their parishioners for 2014/15.

The “standstill” precept was agreed at a meeting of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council.

It follows last financial year’s record parish council rise, which saw the precept on benchmark Band D properties go up from £13.20 to £20 a year, amounting to an extra 12 pence per week for people living in this type of home.

Councillors then pointed out that they had previously used their reserves to minimise precept rises, would now have to pay for the cost of their own elections and were also preparing to take over the management of more public services.

The precept rise was sharply criticised by Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, who said it had been made without a basis of firm spending intentions. He argued that residents were being “taxed for ideas” rather than paying for actual services.

Announcing the decision to freeze the precept, parish council chairman Councillor John Huxley said: "Our finance and overview committee, led by their chairman Councillor Peter Hill, have worked very hard to produce a prudent and cost-effective budget. I believe it represents great value for money.

“This is a standstill precept, and we’ve done well to get this under the circumstances as we’re involved in several very important projects.

“We need money to do things, we can’t exist on nothing.

“We have to have a contingency against elections, because a by-election in this council would cost about £8,000 a ward. I commend this budget and propose we accept it.”

After the budget decision, Coun Huxley reminded his colleagues that the village was facing multiple threats to local services – including Haworth Fire Station, Tree Tops Children’s Centre, Haworth Post Office and Haworth Central Park toilets.

He added that Haworth parish is in danger of losing vital infrastructure at a time when it is being expected to take another 500 houses as part of Bradford district’s long-term house building target.

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