Statement from the Mayor Councillor Duncan Kerr and Councillor Chris Schofield, Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee

The Council is heading into its annual budget setting process facing a degree of uncertainty regarding its finances in the short term, this is primarily due to the significant loss of car parking income.

Approximately 25% of the Councils income comes from council tax (£416,000 precept in 2020/21) with the remainder coming from generated income (fees, charges and rental income). The Council does not receive grants from Government nor does it benefit from any of the business rates paid locally (indeed the Council pays business rates). Covid grant funding and relief on business rates has not been made available to OTC.

The council tax paid is presented based on a Band D property and whilst many Oswestry residents will be paying less than this amount it is a useful comparator with other towns in Shropshire.

Town Band D 2020/21

Oswestry £78.05

Bridgnorth £138.05

Ludlow £174.27

Market Drayton £124.48

Shifnal £145.20

Whitchurch £151.45

Impact of Covid

Whilst the Councils overall financial position remains healthy the covid pandemic, lockdown and a change in life patterns has had an impact, for example before lockdown 2 car parking income was approximately £3,000 lower than it was at the same time last year and in November 2020 the Council estimates that it will loose £40,000 of income. Savings have been made and prudent financial management over many years has meant that the Council can manage this current position but there are undoubtedly risks in the medium to longer term.

2021/22 Budget

Whilst many councils will be in a similar position, this Councils financial position means that next year (restrictions permitting) it can continue to deliver the services for Oswestry residents including:

  • Cae Glas Park,
  • Public open spaces and heritage assets;
  • Food festivals and a programme of family focussed free events;
  • Christmas lights and other things that brighten up the town including the floral displays;
  • Youth services and other activities for young people; and
  • Pavement lighting and other important services such as public toilets, cemetery and allotments.

In addition to this revenue expenditure the Town Council has agreed to put forward £500,000 from the Smithfield Windfall Capital Receipt to match fund the Historic England investment into the town centre which will see improvements to shop fronts, public realm and a significant regeneration project.

The budget will be set in January.

The Town Council financial information, spend and monitoring information is published in Council papers which are available to the public. This statement has been prepared to offer reassurance that the Council continues to manage its finances with the best interest of Oswestry residents in mind.

Wednesday 2 December 2020

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SY11 1PZ

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