Royston councillors engaged in heated debate over budget

A Letchworth man was part of a 'crash for cash' scheme which conned insurance companies out of more

A Letchworth man was part of a 'crash for cash' scheme which conned insurance companies out of more than £120,000. - Credit: Archant

Councillors were engaged in a heated debate over plans to raise Royston Town Council’s budget precept on Monday evening.

Plans by town council chairman F John Smith to bump up the precept to £257,586 – an increase of about 3.5 per cent on last year’s rate – were agreed at the meeting with nine of the 11 members voting in favour.

Councillor Smith said: “Our council is very efficient. A small organisation, we have to stand on our own two feet and cannot outsource our operations nor share tasks with other councils.

“Any reduction in staff would seriously affect the services that we provide in the town.”

Councillor Rod Kennedy introduced an alternative budget which proposed to save taxpayers money by closing the Cross public toilets, removing the council loan to fund the Wicker Hall cemetery and having volunteers at the museum rather than salaried staff.

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He said: “Over the last few years we seem to have had an insatiable appetite for taking on responsibilities which lie with the district council.

“It is not our role to cover the deficiencies of that council by providing the services they no longer consider Royston requires.”

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Councillor Mark Hughes, who also voted against the town council budget proposal, said: “The big point is that it feels like the people of Royston are being short-changed. We do a discredit to them.

“This council is financially inept.”

Vice chairman John Davison supported the budget – which will see Band D households pay £42.18 for the year beginning on April 1 – and dismissed Mr Kennedy’s reservations over the Wicker Hall cemetery as ‘scaremongering’.

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