At its December meeting, the Council heard a report from the Clerk, in which she presented the draft budget recommended by the Finance Committee. The Council has held the precept at its current level for several years, but this year, will be requesting a substantial increase.

This is due to a number of factors, the most substantial of which is the fact that the Parochial Church Council of St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church (the Parish Church of Uplyme) has announced its intention to hand over responsibility for maintenance of the churchyard once it is closed for burial. It is anticipated that, in August 2014, the Parish Council will take over the grass-cutting and other maintenance of the churchyard, which will represent a substantial increase in its day-to-day costs.

In addition, income from the Cemetery was much less than budgeted (which in itself is a good thing of course); however, the shortfall has to be made up.

The Council plans to employ the services of a parish lengthsman rather than relying on the County service next year, which is felt to be inadequate in several respects. Councillors hope that this will be fully funded by grants and payments from the District and County Councils, but if not, there are sufficient reserves to pay for the first year. This should mean a big improvement to the state of ditches, drains and road signs in the parish, which has steadily deteriorated over the years.

What does this mean for residents?

stampAn almost 25% increase sounds like a lot – but the proportion of your Council Tax that goes to the parish is very small, so the actual increases are not quite so intimidating. The total precept for next year will be £19,266.47, up from £16,260 this year. For an average (Band D) property, this requires an annual increase of £4.35, taking the total payment for the year to £22.94. So, that’s less than the price of a second class stamp per week (44p) – just 8p more than this year.