Westhoughton Town Council sets £150,000 budget

The Bolton News: Westhoughton Town Hall Westhoughton Town Hall

A TOWN council has set its annual spending at more than £150,000.

Westhoughton Town Council’s annual budget for 2014/15, compiled by the town clerk, has its predicted outlay fractionally down on last year at £153,768, but the authority’s cash reserves have dwindled by £20,000 over the last 12 months.

The town council is set to receive a precept of £129,049 from Bolton Council to cover costs, the same as it received in 2013/14.

The release of the figures comes as the future of town council’s is being questioned.

Cllr Andy Morgan, who served as a town councillor in Westhoughton for four years, started a debate on their future, arguing their upkeep costs could be better spent elsewhere in the current austerity fight.

“I just don’t understand, if Westhoughton rate-payers want to pay a precept, why it cannot be filtered into an area forum,” said Cllr Morgan. “Then you would make immediate savings on bureaucratic office costs in a heartbeat.”

Councillors said the authority should be congratulated for producing such a “clean” set of books, given the amount of worthy causes it supported in 2013/14.

Ratepayers in Westhoughton, Horwich and Blackrod pay additional council tax each year to pay for their town council.

Those with a Band A property will pay an extra £10.63 in council tax during 2014/15.

The town council’s revised payments for 2013/14 currently stand at £155,194.

On April 1, 2013, the authority’s cash reserves were £59,297 — the predicted figure for April 1 this year is only £39,719.

Conservative councillor Phil Ashcroft, for White Horse, said: “I think we should congratulate ourselves for the things we have done for the town in the last 12 months without needing any increase from our budget last year.”

Cllr Wilkinson added: “My only reservation is that we are seemingly reliant on dipping into our own balances to make ends meet each year, which is a slightly slippery slope.”

During the next financial year, the town council is preparing to spend £42,000 on their project “Get Active Westhoughton”.

Staff salaries account for £30,620 of spending, with elections in May 2014 set to cost the town council £6,000.

The council’s CCTV budget is £14,000, down from £20,000 in 2013/14, with an extra £4,000 allocated to pay for new cameras in the town.

Horwich Town Council received a precept of £184,392 for the 2013/14 financial year.

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