Councillors clash over Kenilworth Town Council budget

Councillors clashed over the town council budget last night
Councillors clashed over the town council budget last night

Kenilworth town councillors clashed over what residents' council tax should be spent on in next year's budget at a meeting last night (Thursday January 11).

At the meeting in Jubilee House, council leader Cllr John Cooke (Con, St John’s) proposed to keep the precept the same as the last five years - equivalent to £18.50 per year in a Band D household.

But Cllr Richard Dickson (Lib Dem, St John’s) said he ‘struggled’ with the proposal, and said more money should be given to the police from the town council’s unspent money from previous years.

He said: “I accept reserves are money put aside prudently by previous councils for a rainy day.

“When, as we’ve had in the last three months ending November, a 28 per cent increase in recorded crime, methinks it’s raining.”

He also claimed the council’s saved money combined with not planning to increase the precept represented a cut in real terms.

But his claims were rebutted by Cllr Michael Coker (Con, Abbey), who said: “That argument doesn’t hold water in the slightest.

“Because one hasn’t spent a particular budget doesn’t mean you’re reducing anything, it means you just happen to have saved something.

“There is in fact an increase in what we’re putting into the local community. Not in that budget is another £17,000 or £18,000, which will go into the lights from money we have set aside.”

He also said the town council funding police was a ‘dangerous course’ because the police would ‘milk’ the town council’s funds.

And Cllr Felicity Bunker (Con, Park Hill) echoed Cllr Coker's concerns and said even if they gave money to the police, the town council would not be in control of how it was spent.

She said: "I understand where Cllr Dickson is coming from, because he's a new councillor and he wants to be seen to be doing a lot for the town. I would add that's what we're all here for. We're all trying to do the best we can for the town.

"I am concerned about putting some money into crime prevention. Unless we have some control over what happens to them (the funds), I think we're on to a dodgy path there."

In the end, all councillors agreed to keep the precept the same for 2018/19. Cllr Dickson voted against, and town mayor Kate Dickson (Lib Dem, Abbey) abstained.