BLAENAVON Town Council has voted to increase the precept it takes from local residents in order to maintain and improve the growing number of services it delivers in the community.

The precept is a local tax collected by Torfaen County Borough Council as part of the annual council tax bill. The decision means that the Town Council will receive £130,000 in the financial year 2019/20, with a rise of an average £17 per household per year to £66.91.

The precept breakdown based on Band D properties will cost households £5.58 per month or £1.29 a week. For Band A properties – which make up by far the biggest proportion of housing in Blaenavon, at 49.63 per cent - it means an annual payment of £44.72, or £3.73 per month or 86p per week.

“No local council wants to increase the amount of money it asks for from residents,” said mayor Cllr Gareth Davies. “However, in recent years we’ve returned that money to the community in the form of a range of local services and events that Torfaen Council would neither be able to afford nor have the human resources to deliver.”

The precept did not go up in the current financial year due to an accumulation of reserves. But with the drawing-up of a Business Plan in early 2018, the Council have identified new priorities and is currently working on a number of projects and regeneration initiatives, including improvements to the Workmen’s Hall and annual events such as the Remembrance Day Parade or the Christmas lights.

The total amount spent by the Council so far this financial year is £108,000 - £50,642 of which has been on projects, the largest sum being £10,000 each on both the Workmen’s Hall cinema seating and World Heritage Day.

A further £48,500 was spent on match funding and regeneration initiatives - £10,000 of which on the Townscape Heritage Project.

“The regeneration awards we’ve made, in particular, have attracted almost £2m of matchfunding,” Cllr Davies added. “Without our contributions, it’s very unlikely that this extra money would have been found, and much-loved heritage buildings like the Workmen’s Hall and Bethlehem Chapel would have struggled to receive investment.

“If we didn’t have this rise in income, a number of events and some services would have to be reduced or scrapped, such as our very popular intergenerational project and the school holidays swimming initiative.

“We’re so pleased with the progress we’ve made over the past two years and we want to keep that momentum going. We hope the townspeople agree that this is a positive direction for the Council and community.”