Council tax increase to fund Royston market square purchase
09:11 16 January 2014
Royston Town Council is putting up its precept – the share of council tax it receives – so it can afford repayments on the loan it plans to take out to purchase Market Hill, where the market is based.
The rise will mean the average Band D household in Royston will pay £41.12 a year to the town council, a rise of £2.43, or just under five pence per week.
Councillors agreed the move, a rise of 5.92 per cent compared to 2013, at a meeting on Monday.
Cllr F John Smith told the meeting: “We want to acquire the market place for the good of the town, and I think the town will be getting something worthwhile at a reasonable bargain price. It’s worth doing.”
As reported in the Crow last year, the town council is looking to purchase Market Hill after it was put up for sale by its owner, MPK Holdings.
The council, which runs Royston market, has a 10-year lease on the land, and wants to ensure the site does not fall into the hands of developers once this comes to an end.
Having studied funding options, Cllr Smith said that a loan was the only way to press ahead with the purchase.
“If another opportunity arises we might look at it, but at the moment there isn’t another option presenting itself,” he added.
Cllr Bob Smith, Royston’s mayor, said: “We are currently paying £15,000 per year rent, and this will go up to £19,700 with the loan.
“Obviously this is a greater sum, but we will be buying an asset.”
Councillors unanimously voted to approve the new precept, which will see the council receive £249,021 from residents this year, up from £231,470 in 2013.
North Herts District Council has yet to decide whether to increase its share of the council tax, while the police and fire services also receive a precept which contributes to the overall bill.
Meanwhile, the council is looking for a new market manager following the resignation of Steve Barrett.
Details of the role, and how to apply, can be found on the town council website – www.royston towncouncil.gov.uk
• What do you think? Are you happy for your council tax bill to rise to fund the purchase of the market square? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your thoughts.