Resident calls for future precept cut in row over £117k grant fund
A DECISION by Frome town councillors on how to spend a £117,000 grant has been criticised by a Frome resident.
This year Frome families were charged an extra 15 per cent on their annual town precept.
Mendip District Council tax bills this spring showed an 18.6 per cent increase under the Frome parish heading for the average Band D property even though the town council increased its council tax demand to Mendip by 2.8 per cent.
The increase has been blamed on changes in Government policy relating to the new Council Tax Support Scheme resulting in a shortfall in the funding of council tax discounts. The shortfall was charged against the parish precept.
However there has now been a £117,000 grant given to the town council by Mendip directly related to the extra tax.
And at a meeting of the internal affairs committee last month, three town councillors decided to divide the grant in three with £55,000 to establish a project in the town to support vulnerable people and families, £55,000 to support training opportunities for young people and £7,000 to enable the participation week and community fair initiated by the town council.
Councillors had previously looked into the possibility of offering a refund to every Frome resident but had been advised it could leave them open to a legal challenge.
It was also decided not to place it in reserves and reduce the precept next year because there was uncertainty over whether a grant would be awarded again next year.
However at a meeting of Frome Town Council last Wednesday, resident Charles Wood questioned the decision made by just three councillors on how to spend the money.
He suggested a better way to use the cash was to put it into reserves to cover a council tax freeze or reduction in future years.
Mr Wood said: "I believe the full council, with its responsibility for the precept, and the overall operation and decisions of its committees should recall this decision for review, ratification or change."
He wants to see Frome residents asked through an online poll whether they would rather see their returned money used to either reduce or freeze their future precept.
He also suggested the Frome people might prefer the grant going to helping buy the meadowland at Styles Hill.
See letters, page 10