RESIDENTS in Winsford will see an increase in their council tax come April after a 17.3 per cent precept hike was voted through by the town council. 

At its meeting on Monday, January 15, Winsford Town Council voted to raise its share of residents' council tax in order to help fund a 20 per cent increase in its annual budget. 

Typical households will pay an extra £12.54 a year for town council services, which include parks, allotments, Christmas lights, events, and grants to local groups and charities.

Homes falling into council tax band D currently pay £72.48 a year for these services, but this will jump to £85.02. 

The increase gets passed directly onto residents through their Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) tax bill, as for police and fire services.

Winsford town mayor, Cllr Ernie Welch, who voted for the rise, says higher energy costs, compulsory staff pay rises, and higher bills from tradesmen for maintenance, all make the rise necessary.

He added the council also needs to invest in its own assets, such as Barton Stadium, which needs ‘extensive’ repairs, and proposed new toilets in the town centre.

Cllr Welch, who’s a member of the Winsford Salt of the Earth (WSOE) group of independent councillors, said: “The increase stems from steep price increases the council is dealing with, and the amount of investment required in vital services and to maintain town assets.

“The team at WSOE are also actively exploring several ideas to generate efficiency savings, but this is challenging in the current economic climate.

“The amount the town council gets is low compared to what CWAC, Cheshire Police, and the fire service receives.

“However, every penny of it is spent in Winsford, and for our town.”

The increase has been criticised by fellow Winsford town and CWAC Labour councillor, Nathan Pardoe, who voted against the proposed budget.

He said: “Good council services cost money and need staff. The problem WSOE have is they promised the town they could do more with less.

“They also said they'd found £120,000 in waste at Winsford Town Council. Perhaps they know now this was never the case, but it doesn't change what they promised.

“WSOE made these promises knowing all about inflationary pressures, and with full knowledge of the council's finances, given the mayor was already a councillor.

“The councillors backing this increase don't know if it will be enough to deliver their latest promises.

The vote was carried by seven in favour, five against and one abstention.