WELLINGTON residents will soon be paying more tax as the town council agrees to up its precept by 31 per cent.

But the increase, which seems large, actually equates to 30p a week.

Councillors debated the tax increase for its portion of council tax at the first meeting of the year, held on Monday, January 6.

The town council was in agreement it wanted to do more for the town, but debate broke out over how to achieve this.

Councillor John Thorne said: "It's one of the most important things we do all year.

"The headline will be it's a 31 per cent increase, but it real terms it's 30p a week.

"I was thinking about what you can buy for 30p, and all I could think of was half a Mars bar.

"We are an aspirational council, we do seek to do a lot more.

"We have a moved from a historically low council tax rate.

"A lot of things that could have been done, weren't done.

"We are now much more dynamic, we want to do a lot more, but we will need funds to do it.

"I realise how difficult it is to pay bills. I am not someone who easily agrees to an increase, but I recognise it is something we need to do."

Councillor Marcus Barr spoke against the rise in tax, claiming the council needed to find different ways to bring in money, rather than relying on the taxpayer to 'fork out' each time.

He said the difference in net spend shows the council is just 'taking on liabilities'.

The net spend for the council in 2015 was £149,000, whereas the projected spend for 2020/21 is set to be £447,896.

"we need value for money," he added.

"All we are doing is buying more liabilities. There is nothing in the asset column to make this council any money.

"When is this council going to start investing in assets?

"We are making our residents 31 per cent poorer, and we can't keep relying on the public to fork out."

In recent years the town council has been reluctant to increase tax by any large amount. In 2017/18 the increase was one per cent, and three per cent in 2018/19.

In 2019/20, a 23 per cent increase was agreed.

The elected members put the former resistance to tax rises down to previous administrations being 'backward' and not getting enough done.

Mayor of Wellington, cllr Janet Lloyd, said: "I think cllr Thorne has outlined the way we want the council to go.

"We have improved the town in many ways. We were quite a backwards council, we didn't do anything extra."

The council's new Pop Up Shop was brought into conversation, with cllr Barr voicing his preference that an asset like that should have been purchased outright by the council, instead of renting it, but cllr Lloyd said the council was wise to 'put a toe in' to test the viability before deciding to purchase the building.

Cllr Lithgow echoed cllr's Barr's wishes for the council to acquire more assets, but he urged caution and said buying assets anywhere other than around Wellington would be inappropriate.

When it came to the vote, cllrs Barr and Nick Smith were against the tax increase, while all other present members voted for it.

The overall total of next year's council tax for Somerset West and Taunton resident has not yet been announced, as it includes precepts from other councils and public bodies in the area.