COUNCILLORS have approved a council tax hike at a full Taunton Town Council meeting yesterday (Tuesday, January 30).

The approved 2024/25 precept of £5,904,630 is a £299.30 Band D precept, an increase of £3.65 a week.

The council said 75 per cent percent of households in Taunton will pay less being in Bands A–C.

The previous budget was £2,114,000 at a cost of £109.67 per year.

A council spokesperson said: “In December, the council agreed on a draft budget as a base budget as we knew further conversations were expected with Somerset Council.”

The leader of the council, Cllr Tom Deakin, said taking these short-term measures will be beneficial in the long term.

He said: “This budget will enable us to deliver services at the closest possible level so that people can use them.”

Cllr Caroline Ellis said: “It is not nice putting up people’s council tax. "We are doing our best to alleviate the impact on people with low income.

“We are investing in this town to improve their lives. There is so much that we will do. It’s really going to make a difference to people’s lives.”

Cllr Ed Firmin added: “I think it’s not only about what we can do for the town but also what we can do for other organisations.

“If we do make a lot of these decisions now, these organisations won’t lose out on all the work they have been doing.”

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts said: “Asking people to pay more is challenging in these times.

“Putting up the council tax will impact people, it will impact me and my family, but if we break it down the increase is the cost of a latte.

“Do we want to be where we are today, or do we want to be something great?

“We can achieve together, regardless of our political parties. We can make this town even better than it is.”

Cllr Martin Straus said the town council should take on the responsibilities as “Somerset Council is unable to provide the services we expect”.

“If we do not, who will?” he also said, adding that “the people of this town will be lost if we do not take them [the services] on”.

Conservative councillor Giuseppe Fraschini was the only one at the meeting to vote against the budget.

He said: “There has been some unease about councillors’ allowance. With the amount we ask people to pay, it’s not great to draw an allowance.”

A discussion on this matter could take place during next month’s council meeting in order to make clear the difference between expenses and allowances, the councillor was told.

Cllr Paul Tooze said: “This is just the start. We are asking for a little bit now but it’s not the end of it.

“We will be judged on our results. This is public money we need to look after it very carefully.”

Cllr Bev Fernandes and Cllr Ray Tully both abstained when the council voted to approve the precept as they live on the boundaries of the town.

Cllr Tully said “it is unfair to the people I represent to say I agree” and added that he feels “unhappy about it [the budget]”.

He also said "I would hate someone to say I voted for it".

But also added: “We need the budget to keep the town going.”