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Council increases precept to sustain services.

January 2022

As part of the required budget setting process for 2022/23, the Town Council has agreed to increase the precept, we take from local residents to ensure we can sustain the valued services we deliver in the community.

 

The precept is a local tax collected by Torfaen County Borough Council as part of the annual council tax bill.

The decision means the Town Council will receive a rise in the precept from £130,000 to £185,000 a year, which will mean an annual charge of £94.24 for a Band ‘D’ property, an increase of £27.57.

In terms of Band ‘A’ properties - which make up the biggest proportion of housing in Blaenavon, at 49.63% - it means an increase in annual payments from £44.72 to £64.13, or £5.34 per month / £1.23 per week.

 

The second largest number of properties in Blaenavon are in Band B (34.47%), which will cost households an annual increase of £22.65 per year to £74.82, or £6.24 per month / £1.44 a week.

In the 2022-23 financial year, the Council will have to pay the salary of the Healthy Blaenavon Officer’s post – which was initially funded jointly by the Council and Torfaen County Borough Council, in partnership with Torfaen Public Service Board - along with the costs of the local council elections in May.

We have also agreed to replace the Christmas Crib and figurines, which were vandalised last year, and this is likely to cost around £8,000.  Another expense is the Remembrance Day parade, which will cost the Council £3,000 to employ a road closure management company as the police will no longer support the event.

"We haven’t put the precept up since 2019,” said Mayor Cllr Liam Cowles. “The pandemic meant that we spent less on projects and events such as the Intergenerational Project, 2020 Christmas Market and Civic Awards presentation in both 2020 and 2021.

“However, if we didn’t increase it this year we would have to cut services such as the Healthy Blaenavon project, which is appreciated by so many residents who benefit from it both practically and in terms of their mental health.”

In 2020, the project won Best Council Service of the Year Award in the One Voice Wales National Innovative Practice awards for helping residents lead healthier and more active lives.

Since then, the project has levered in more than £38,000 in match funding from partners including Street Games, Comic Relief and Bronafon Housing, and delivering numerous free activities including:

Mental Health

  • Plattform State of Mind (14-25 year olds)

  • Inside Out – art workshops (Over 18s)

  • Recrock Music / Draig Youth – Youth Aspirations

  • Summer rock school

 

Cultural Excursions

  • Cardiff, Swansea & St Fagan’s Museums

  • Wales Millennium Centre

  • Careers Fayre – V&A Museum London

 

Intergenerational

  • Little Voices - (primary school)

  • Food for life – (Generations Eating Together)

  • Street Games – (free family activity)

  • Over 60s exercise

  • Cooking on a budget recipe book 

  • Summer picnics

  • Family cookery sessions

 

To date, more than 400 residents have engaged in the project, benefitting from improved mental wellbeing, free physical activity, cultural awareness, and a reduction in loneliness.

 

During the first year of the pandemic, the project coordinated the Council’s range of support for the community, including the delivery of food parcels, shopping and collecting prescriptions and making telephone calls to isolated residents

The Intergenerational project, which is run in partnership with Big Pit, also won the 2019 One Voice Wales Innovative Practice National award for the Best Community Engagement Initiative in Wales.

Over the past year, the Council has created an Assistant Chief Officer post providing 15 hours per week administrative support, covering the Chief Officer’s leave period.

We also recently launched a ‘participatory budget’ initiative called Community Brew as a result of the Council’s partnership with Torfaen County Borough Council (TCBC), Torfaen Public Service Board and Aneurin Bevan Health Board.

The budget for 2022-23 includes projected spending on the following:

  • Healthy Blaenavon Project £12,000

  • Replacement of Christmas Crib - £8,000

  • Small Grant Scheme - £7,900

  • Christmas Lights – £7,400

  • SSE Lighting Services £7,000

  • Torfaen Play Service - £5,000

  • Torfaen CCTV cameras - £3,500

  • World Heritage Day - £3,000

  • Remembrance Day - £3,000 (road closure management company

  • Christmas market - £3,000

  • Blessing of Crib / Carol Service - £3,000

  • Christmas tree – £2,500

  • Hanging Baskets - £900

 

Cllr Cowles added: “We’ve managed to raise the precept only twice in the five-year tenure of this current Town Council.  Considering the value that we’ve added year after year, that’s quite an achievement.

“We’ve returned that money to the community through a range of innovative local services and events that have neither happened in Blaenavon before, nor that Torfaen Council would fund or have the human resources to deliver.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, and we hope that our residents will be happy to continue supporting us to keep doing so.”