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How we use your Council Tax

Black circular sign post with Farnham painted in white letters around top of circle

Farnham Voice by Councillor John Neale. Published in the Farnham Herald on 6 February 2020.

In our last Council meeting on the 23 January, the Council decided on the Farnham Town Council precept (its share of the council tax) needed in 2020/21 to fund our services. This was reported on by The Herald last week; it amounts to £66.09 per year for a typical Band D property in Farnham.

This council tax is collected, on our behalf, by Waverley Borough Council. It provides a full explanation to you every year, when it  publishes the annual council tax statements in March, so if you want more details please refer to your tax bill and either the WBC or FTC websites. Waverley collects the taxes for all three councils: Surrey, Waverley and Farnham, together with funding for Surrey police services. The Farnham Town Council portion of the total is around 3%, a relatively small share since most of the major services are provided by the other authorities.

In this article, I wanted to give you more information about what Farnham Town Council does for you and how we arrive at our tax level. Our primary function is to provide some of the key services that affect your enjoyment and wellbeing, whilst the principal councils look after the expensive services such as education, highways and refuse collection. So, we make sure that parks and cemeteries are well maintained, and we provide a wide range of community events for your enjoyment and to help those in our community who need some extra support.

In providing these services, we get enormous assistance from volunteers. When we brighten up the town with flowers – Farnham in Bloom – our volunteers do a large part of the work and this helps with managing the costs. It also improves the local areas where people live and encourages a sense of community. We also get help from local businesses in the form of sponsorship, so all in all we create a virtuous circle: community benefit, community support and financial income.

Farnham Town Council is one of the largest town/parish councils in the country, giving us a strong influence at Waverley and Surrey. This means that as well as providing these local services, we act as the voice of Farnham in Waverley; Farnham accounts for about a third of Waverley by population and by councillor representation. So, we have a strong voice on matters such as town development, housing site allocation, planning consultation and building design. A lot of our time as councillors and town hall officers is spent on these activities.

During the coming year, we will be taking over some of the responsibilities that have previously been provided by the principal councils. This is partly because we believe we can enhance the provision, partly because government policy is to move more services down to local levels, and partly to ease the budget pressures that those councils are under at the current time. We will be taking over responsibility for Gostrey Meadow – our key local park – and some other public spaces. You will see improvements come along.

All these activities amount to an annual budget of around £1.4M. This figure is not much higher than last year, due to our strong financial controls and increased income from some of our activities, all of which help to balance the extra services we will be providing. Over the last few years our precept has fallen below the national average by about £3 per household. When we are deciding our budget and the tax level, we have been very mindful of the need for restraint in our demands. We hope you agree that we are providing, and will continue to ensure, good value for money.

By Councillor John Neale, Leader, Farnham Town Council Published in the Farnham Herald on 6 February 2020

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