Council tax to rise to boost museum fund

Fleetwood Town Council's public meeting regarding the running of the museum

Fleetwood Town Council's public meeting regarding the running of the museum

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Fleetwood Town Council is to increase the amount port residents will pay on its council tax precept to fund an attempt to save the town’s museum. Port council tax to rise to create museum battle fund

At an extraordinary meeting in a packed ballroom the town’s North Euston Hotel, the council overwhelmingly voted for the move to create a fighting fund to try to save the museum.

It means the total “precept” payment – the extra amount Fleetwood council tax payers contribute to the Town Council on top of their council tax bill – will rise from the £110,000 in 2015/16 to £176,000 in 2016/17 - an increase of £66,000 over the year and a 60 per cent rise.

As part of the move, the council also agreed to contribute £50,000 from its current reserve of £85,498.82.

But Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, told the meeting: “The increase which people will have to pay per households is just a few pence per week, we are not asking people to dig deep.

“Over the years external forces have held control over this town and allowed us to lose vital assets – the fishing industry, the Stena ferries – the list goes on.

“But with Fleetwood Town Council this town has a voice and for just a few pence a week we can save a wonderful asset, Fleetwood Museum.”

Before the vote, members of the public had their say, with the majority in favour of the move, although some concerns were raised.

Fleetwood Museum is facing the axe in April because Lancashire County Council, the authority which funds the facility, is having to make massive savings because of Government cutbacks.

Residents heard the decision on precept payments had to be taken this week because Fleetwood Town Council only had until Friday this week to send its figures to Wyre Council, to allow the 2016/7 council tax to be set.

But this raised concern from one resident, Tom Norton, who said: “You are asking us to pay more on our council tax before you have even set a business plan. That concerns me.”

Coun Rogers told him there had been very little notice given by the county council to put a business plan in place due to lack of information which only it held.

Once an Expression of Interest (ECI) was lodged by the Town Council, this information would be forthcoming and a business plan would be put together.

The move agreed by the Town Council was one of three options, the others being a 100 per cent rise in the precept or no rise, both of them rejected.

The only councillor to vote against the increase was Coun Rita Hewitt, who said after the meeting: “We have raised the precept but we have no detailed budget to justify the increase we are asking for.

“Does the Town Council really know what it is taking on?”