Bridgnorth Town Council has started the annual budgetary process, which will be set in January 2021.

On Thursday 15th October, Councillors met for a Budget Workshop hosted by the Town Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer to consider various options for next year’s budget.

This was an informal discussion where no decisions were made. A summary of the discussions can be found below:

“A workshop was held, via zoom, between Councillors, the Town Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer. A presentation was aired and Councillors were presented with 3 draft budgets that took into account areas that were included in the presentation. The draft budgets were purely for information and were examples of how the budget could look in certain scenarios and were no way intended to be taken as a possible budget; they were designed to provoke debate.

Broad discussions took place on many subjects which included a wide range of competing demands and priorities. No decisions were made at the workshop; it was a chance for Officers and Councillors to digest the latest financial situation. 

In addition to the usual business of council, consideration of 2 new services had been received from individual Councillors.

The Town Council had been approached to take over the running of the Youth Club on Innage Lane from Shropshire Council. The Town Council had previously, under minute number 0271/1920, ‘resolved to delegate to the Town Clerk to respond to the current Shropshire Youth Consultation on behalf of the Town Council’ that the Town Council was not minded to make any budgetary provision for supporting services that had beneficiaries beyond the Town boundary and where the funding for them (through taxation) is considered to be more appropriate through a wider tax collecting body.

The money that has previously been earmarked, by Shropshire Council, for this function is now being re-directed into providing mobile youth workers following a consultation that was carried out by Children’s Services. The current centre runs 2 sessions a week that see on average 29 children in attendance over both sessions.

For some time, the Citizens Advice Bureau has not had a physical presence in town. Council were consulted on whether they would consider helping the CAB to hold sessions and if so in what capacity.  Possibilities included part funding an outreach worker or providing a facility that might be suitable. 

The first draft budget was a real cost in year budget; continue with all current services – minus the Carnival for 2021 –  plus £15,000 to continue with the youth club and £10,000 for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). This gave an increase on the precept of 18.94% – an annual increase of £26.14 on a band D equivalent with no decrease in the predicted General Fund (£211,024).

The second draft gave a 0% increase in the precept while continuing with all current services – minus the Carnival for 2021 –   plus £15,000 for the youth centre and £10,000 for CAB. This reduced the predicted General Fund to £91,350, a potential loss of £119,674.

The third draft gave a 0% increase in the precept with the predicted General Fund at £172,250, a loss of £38,774. To achieve this there was no provision for the youth centre, CAB, Carnival, Castle Hall or public toilets; Castle Hall and public toilets were used as an example only of services that could be cut to achieve no increase in council tax.

Councillors were invited to provide further comment to help the shaping of the next draft budget. The budget process is necessarily lengthy, detailed and is subject to much modification.”