Otley town councillors gathered this week to set the new annual charge for the residents of the town.

Traditionally, one of the longest and most bad-tempered meetings of the year, Mondays budget meeting was by contrast swift and good humoured.

After the gentlest of criticism, during which the council was asked to make sure its telephone bill was the lowest it could get and that maybe the town clerk should jog around the town delivering minutes to save on postage, it was agreed to set the precept at just over eight per cent.

Granted, the rise is well over the rate of inflation, but it is three per cent lower than last years rise and it still only works out at around £26 for the average household for the year.

And what do we get from the town councils share of the council tax bill? Actually, quite a lot and at least residents can see the results of their 50p per week - whether they actually agree with it or not.

This year, the council has put aside money to spruce up the somewhat scrubby area of land outside the Midland Bank in Crossgate. It is a very prominent piece of land, seen by people who arrive in Otley at the bus station and is in dire need of being given a new lease of life.

Then theres the renovation of the towns historic core.

The council is putting its share towards a project which should see some of the best buildings repaired.

Another area the council is putting money into is the expansion of the towns community development workers role.

Having worked just part-time for the last year, Julia Johnson will be devoting more of her time to Otley in the coming year - helping community groups to get the most out of themselves.

It is good to see a council prepared to bear the

responsibility of charging its residents a precept in order to carry out projects it believes are in the best interests of the town. Down the road in Ilkley, the parish council there does not set a precept and therefore has to rely on Bradford Council as the holder of the purse strings to pay for any projects.

A parish council without money is therefore little more than a talking shop with no where-with-all at its disposal to pay for what it wants to do.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.