Precept 2023/24 - Budget Statement from HTC

Horley Town Council's Precept for 2023/24 was approved at the Full Council meeting held on 6 December 2022 and the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Cllr Jordan Beech, gave the following commentary:

"Horley Town Council has a statutory duty to prepare an Annual Budget for the ensuing financial year which runs from 1st April to 31st March.  The Precept is the element of Council Tax which is raised and spent to cover its general administration and is claimed from Reigate & Banstead Borough Council.

On behalf of the Town Council, I would like to announce that the Precept for 2023/2024 has been set at a total net figure of £ 525,016. This means that the Town element of Council Tax will be an average annual amount of £47.76 per household, representing an increase of £6.25 per Band D property (+ 15.07%). This figure is well below the National Average figure for Town and Parish Councils which last year was £71.86.

The increase rise from last year is as a result of the spike in the current rate of inflation (CPI) and the increased costs levied on the Council in the delivery of its services and statutory duties. However, the prudent management of our budgets over recent years has led to the Town Council’s sound financial position overall and to be better placed on the main trajectory to maintain economic growth and future prosperity. The financial environment remains challenging for all local government authorities at the present time. As a first-tier council, closest to the community, we are mindful of the financial hardships that Horley residents may face due to the current cost of living. We recognise the importance to balance our budgets most cost-effectively and to apply the proper administration of public money at all times. We continue to meet our objectives to build up our general reserves and earmarked funds after a challenging couple of years and to ensure that the future maintenance of and investment in Council assets and services are preserved.

The Town Council is eager to move forward with positivity and a steadfast approach to deliver all its services, and to develop a detailed programme of enhancements, infrastructure upgrades and new community projects. These will include continued improvements to our parks, playgrounds and open spaces. We will strive to deliver effective and efficient services for our residents, and we are committed to transparency and value for money at all times.

In June this year, we adopted our five-year Town Plan 2022-2027 with our mission statement for “A shared strategy for future economic growth and prosperity …” It sets out, amongst other things, the Town Council’s vision, key priorities and future projects to be undertaken with a focus on environmental activities to tackle the climate emergency. We look forward to undertaking new community projects as part of our strategic Town Plan objectives and overall vision, some of which have recently completed or are underway. For example, in the spring, we completed our redesign project to widen the park entrance at Horley Recreation Ground and install a height barrier, made possible through part funding from our Neighbourhood CIL fund. We also carried our major maintenance works at Michael Crescent Centenary Park, including replacement of the perimeter fencing; plus, extra pitch reconditioning at Court Lodge fields along with highly durable new information signage boards at the car park entrance, playground and pathway that leads to Church Road. We aim to pursue more projects in the forthcoming municipal year through other grant funding possibilities.

The ’Cafe In The Park’ at Horley Recreation Ground is now being fully managed by ‘The Farmyard Kitchen’ in a welcoming setting with wide-ranging, delicious cuisine. It has also supported the Town Council with many community events, including the ‘The Big Lunch’ picnic to mark the Platinum Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth ll together with the Horley Carnival and has liaised with other private event operators that provide leisure and family entertainment at the park.

The roll-out of upgraded surveillance cameras at all our sites is also being progressed. We will continue to implement regular patrols in all parks for extra security and public safety. We are also pursuing other crime prevention measures through funding opportunities as an alliance to the Surrey Police & Crime Plan 2020-25 strategy which includes the aims of “reducing violence against women and girls, protecting people from harm in Surrey; working with Surrey communities so that they feel safe; and strengthening relationships between Surrey Police and residents."

The Town Council will continue to support St Bartholomew’s Church and has made provision for a sum of £6,750, towards its grounds’ maintenance budget, subject to approval of a grant application from the Church. In addition, we can offer grant funding opportunities to community groups (subject to eligibility) through our Council Grants Scheme and applications can also be made to the Horley Edmonds Fund.

The Council is delighted to be able to again make provision for superb floral displays around the town for the benefit of residents and visitors. We are grateful for the continued support of County Councillors towards the flower planters at Horley Row and Court Lodge. We would additionally welcome support from community groups and businesses through sponsorship. The Horley in Bloom Competitions will continue free of charge for local residents and the Town Council will of course continue to provide the town centre Christmas Tree. The Town Council will continue to seek funding from appropriate bodies and will have additional earmarked funds for ongoing grounds maintenance and playground improvements with a focus on inclusivity to ensure our parks and open spaces can be enjoyed by everyone and to improve provision for disabled people.

We will move forward with well-established collaborative working arrangements with the County and Borough Councils and influence decisions to facilitate the Town Council having a key role in place and service delivery and to help shape the future of our town with a strong sense of pride in bringing local communities together.

The Horley Town Council website is frequently updated with news items and other important communications as well as Council Agenda and Minutes plus a variety of community and business information. We continually make website enhancements to keep it informative and contemporary whilst ensuring that it meets our legal obligations by remaining fully accessible by everyone under the website accessibility regulations for public sector bodies.

Horley Town Council remains committed to delivering and enhancing its facilities as well as setting out our key objectives, based upon what really matters to Horley residents in these modern times. Detailed information on the budget will be made available on our website or from the Town Council offices.

On a final note, on behalf of our Members, I would like to invite all Horley residents to sign up to our free monthly eNewsletter from the home page of our website or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be kept regularly informed about Horley Town Council’s business and community activities. Thank you."

Cllr Jordan Beech, Chairman Finance & General Purposes Committee

Dated 6 December 2022


ENDS

 


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