Precept hike for Chapel residents

CHAPEL St Leonards Parish Council has voted for a “significant” hike in its precept after the “massive cost” of managing the village’s public toilets “forced” its hand.

The council was forced to take over the running of four blocks of public toilets in the village last April amid fears that East Lindsey District Council would close them.

But the village council was forced to take over the running of the facilities ‘blind’, after it says repeated requests for accurate running cost forecasts were ignored by ELDC.

This meant that no provision was made for the costs when the last precept was announced and, although the council received a one-off grant of £40,060 to help improve the toilets, by the end of November the day-to-day running of the toilets had eaten up almost £21,500.

And at a special meeting of the council last week councillors voted to raise the village’s precept by £12,600 to partially cover the expense - with the remainder of the grant being used to offset the rest in a bid to minimise the “financial pain to residents” as much as possible.

“Increasing the precept in these difficult financial times was not a decision we wanted to make,“ said council chairman, Christine Young.

“Unfortunately, the massive costs of running the public toilets has forced this upon us.

“Furthermore, the council is no more immune to cost-of-living rises than anyone else.

“This is very much a stand-still budget and the council has not even been able to start to budget for the improvements that we know need to be made around the village.

“We just can’t afford to make those improvements at present.”

The impact of the increased precept upon Chapel’s council tax bills cannot be accurately calculated at present, but the increased precept represents an annual cost of about £4.20 per elector.

Meanwhile, parish clerk Mike Green has said that rumours the council has £95,000 in its reserves are not true

“At November 30 the balance stood at £87,090, but this includes the £40,000 one-off grant for the toilets and £16,000 received as a reimbursement for work undertaken last year. With a third of the financial year yet to run, that balance will be significantly eaten in to.”