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Tenbury Town Council can borrow to improve facilities
6:09am Friday 23rd May 2014 in News
MAJOR improvements to facilities in Tenbury could now be made earlier than planned through the town borrowing the money.
Councillor George Price, who has retired as mayor, said that changes to the finances of Tenbury Town Council mean that the way is now clear to apply for finance from the Public Loans Board.
This is the body that lends money to local authorities for projects to improve community facilities.
But the former mayor concedes that this could be a controversial move.
“We have made changes that mean this is an option as the loan is covered by the precept on local residents,” said Cllr Price.
“I know that some people would be unhappy about this because there is awareness that too much borrowing has caused the financial problems in recent years.”
However, he believes that the option is one that should be considered as it would mean that important improvements could be made ahead of time.
Projects that could be included are complete resurfacing of the skate park, a new pavilion and changing rooms for the football club.
He defended above inflation increases to the annual town council precept blaming poor forward planning in the past.
“Three years ago when this council was first elected, it soon became clear to us that forward planning had not previously been a priority,” Cllr Price told Tenbury’s annual town meeting.
“We decided that it was essential to make forward planning and financial stability one of our top priorities.”
“To achieve this it has been necessary to increase the council precept for each of the past three years.
“District and county councils receive funding from central government. However, town councils do not and therefore we only have the precept paid by Tenbury residents to enable us to provide the many services and facilities that we are responsible for.”
However, the town council has been criticised for continuing to increase the demands it makes from the pockets of the people from the town especially at a time of hardship.
District and county councils along with unitary authorities are capped to a 2% increase unless they hold a referendum but this does not apply to town and parish councils.
Tenbury Town Council has increased its costs by recruiting an assistant to work with the town clerk Dawn Worgan.
Cllr Price is aware that the town council may face calls to provide money for the swimming pool and fitness centre.
He has concerns about the need to fund future maintenance and refurbishment of the pool that dates back to the 1960s.
A new company has been set up to manage the facility amid growing concerns about the future of support from Malvern Hills District Council that currently provides a grant of £70,000 a year.
“I take this opportunity to once again urge them (Malvern Hills District Council) to oppose any proposal to withdraw this funding,” added Cllr Price.
“If it is withdrawn, it will threaten the long term future of this valuable community asset.”