NORTHWICH Town Council’s precept will rise from April after the first increase in a number of years was approved by councillors.

Following years of stasis – branded a ‘miracle’ by one councillor last year – the precept will rise to £513,846 for 2019/20.

The increase means the average taxpayer will pay £1.25 more for the town council portion of the council tax bill than last year – a rise of 1.7 per cent.

Cllr Andrew Cooper told members at a meeting on Monday that the change was justified, following an impressive year of achievements and a new catalogue of projects – including improvements to parks and play areas – on the horizon.

Cllr Cooper said: “The amount that we are asking to increase by is considerably less than what some of our peers are doing. I think it’s pretty healthy. Considering where we came from and where we want to go, this is justified and the right thing to do so that we can continue to invest in the services we provide.”

The overall Northwich Town Council precept remained unchanged last year at £488,563. This year, it rises by 5.2 per cent – in real terms, a cost of £76.38 for the average ‘band D’ taxpayer compared to £75.13 last year.

Town council precepts have risen nationwide in recent years as borough councils suffer from central government cuts. This means that – in order to save services from being cut – they are taken over by town councils with taxpayers and grants making up the difference.

Cllr Cooper added: “For as long as I have been on this council we haven’t actually increased the precept – we actually put it down at one point because we took on some services from CWAC and they dropped their special exemption but we increased by less than that.

“We have achieved so much in that time, with the refurbishment of the cenotaph, and work on the play areas, paddling pool, and neighbourhood plan.

“We have got a lot done with the money that we have been entrusted with by the town, and we have got some risks in the coming year.”

This past financial year, projects have included refurbishments at the Church Walk paddling pool and Vickersway Park, as well as regular expenditures such as the Christmas lights alongside new projects including the Festival of Arts.