Colne councillors have made a unanimous decision to save the town’s institutions from closure.
At a meeting to set the budget and the precept for next year, Colne Town Council voted to put money aside for the Town Hall, The Market and The Muni. All three facilities would otherwise be shut by Pendle Council, as they are loss making.
Towncouncil chairman, Coun. Sarah Cockburn-Price, said: “We believe that through careful investment and a focus on commercial activity, we can turn these facilities around so that they begin to make a profit.
“However, with the best will in the world, we aren’t going to be able to do this overnight, so we looked at the budgets very carefully and realised we will have to raise the precept significantly.”
Councillors set the precept at £73.45 per year on Band D property which will raise the town council around £325,000 next year.
The precept for a Band A property is less than a pound a week at £48.97. The budget, which was split into capital and operating expenditure for the first time, was compiled by Coun. Paul Foxley who heads the town council’s finance committee.
Coun. Joe Cooney recommended taking on just one large asset each year, so that the council is able to focus fully on the change management required for the facilities to become profitable.
Currently, the town council is responsible for allotments, benches and events. In early 2016, it will take over the 10 playgrounds not in parks, all the bus shelters, except those in the bus station, and the town centre CCTV provision.
Coun. David Clegg explained: “There is much change afoot in local government at the moment, so by taking over these much loved Colne institutions, we protect them for our town.
“We are bringing back the management of quite a few important facilities to Colne, so they will be run by people who have Colne’s interests closest to their hearts. We’ll be asking for our historic artefacts and archive back too.”
The town council is asking for suggestions to help them improve the management of the Town Hall, The Market and the Muni. It aims to build an action and investment plan for each facility, so they begin to generate income for the town quickly.
Coun. Cooney said: “What persuaded me to vote for this increase was the fact that every pound of this money will be spent in Colne for the benefit of the Colners.
“This isn’t the case with council tax. Unlike the borough council, we don’t have high overheads. We plan to keep our administrative costs as low as possible.”
Pendle Council is requesting Colne Town Council to take on further facilities and services over the next three years, including, all the parks, all the car parks, enhanced town centre sweeping, WiFi provision and the cemetery.