NEWQUAY Town Council has voted to increase its element of the council tax by 27 per cent.

The hike equates to an average Band D household paying an extra £1.23 per week or £63.91 per year during the 2024/25 financial year.

Band D households paid £237.07 during the 2023/24 financial year and will now pay £300.98 for the forthcoming financial year.

Green Party councillors, which have the majority on the town council, say the increase is vital to protect public services and invest in youth of Newquay due to “years of Conservative Party austerity” and “poor management” of the town council’s finances.

But Conservative town councillors have hit back stating it has been “mismanagement” and “poor decision making” by the ‘Green administration’ that is to blame.

Newquay Town Council voted on its share of the council tax at its meeting on Thursday night.

The total budget the town council has for the financial year has been set at £2,881,498.

A spokesperson for the Green Party said: “In response to years of sub-inflationary precept rises, coupled with increased devolved assets and services from Cornwall Council as it struggles to balance the books following 2.5 years of Tory financial mismanagement Newquay Town Council has been compelled to make a challenging decision to raise the precept. 

“This decision comes against a backdrop of catastrophic inflation over the past two years and as a direct result of chronic underfunding. 

“Similar challenges are being felt by other towns across the county and nationwide.

"This proactive measure, spearheaded by Newquay’s Green Party town councillors and supported by a number of other councillors, comes amid recent economic challenges but is aimed at fortifying essential services that are so important to our community.

“Green Party town councillors are acutely aware of the financial challenges faced by some residents, and this difficult decision was only made after it was evident that there was no other option without the significant loss of essential services run by the town council.

“The precept increase is needed to ensure the safeguarding of public services, including Newquay’s popular and well used Library, our award-winning Tourist Information Centre (TIC), green spaces, and other vital infrastructure. 

“Notably, this decision empowers the council to invest in services that had previously faced tory cuts, such as youth provision and youth grants.”

Cllr Drew Creek, the deputy mayor of Newquay Town Council and Green Party councillor, added: "Increasing the council tax is never an easy decision to make, but it is the only responsible step available to take to secure the future of our town and enhance the well-being of our residents.

"This initiative will not only safeguard crucial services but also enable us to invest in the future, particularly in areas that have been underfunded in the past, such as youth provision."

“We recognise the concerns that may arise with any adjustment to council tax and assures the community that every penny collected will be used judiciously and transparently.

"The council remains committed to maintaining open communication with residents, providing regular updates on fund utilisation to ensure transparency throughout the process.

“This difficult but necessary decision ensures the long-term sustainability of the town, fosters community well-being, and contributes to building a vibrant and resilient Newquay for generations to come.

“Band A property will increase by 82pence per week.”

A number of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem councillors voted against the increase arguing it was unnecessary and that the town council should cut back during the cost of living crisis.

Conservative town councillor Olly Monk said: “I was dismayed to witness Newquay Town Council’s councillors vote through a 27% rise in the Newquay’s Council Tax. This represents a slap in the face for the people of Newquay.

 “It’s not often I get political but last night’s Town Council meeting saw the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems join together to try to stop the Green Party from raising the Council Tax by nearly 30% .

"This just months after the Greens, virtue signalling, declaration of a cost of living crisis.

“How can this be justified.

"Clearly it can’t.

"It just goes to show the lack of understanding and compassion the Greens have to the working people of Newquay.

“We are all facing difficult times due high inflation and price rises.

"Newquay Town Council has a duty to protect and look after residents.

"This budget does not do this.

"It rewards failure and promotes inefficient spending on things the town can do without like spending £4,500 on hiring a band from up country to open the Christmas lights.

“We should be getting our own house in order like the Mount Wise Bbuilding which currently loses the council £50,0000 per year and holds no community events.

"The Greens don’t care about that, they simply want to raise more money from all of us to paper over the wasteful cracks at Newquay Town Council rather than having the courage to tackle the issues.

“Newquay Town Council needs to cut its cloth accordingly not increase the tax burden on the residents of Newquay.”

Conservative councillor Louis Gardner added: “Some days as a councillor are really rewarding, some days I just despair.

“I try and be non-political on this platform and just highlight what I am doing but tonight I have to tell it as it is.

“A meeting of Newquay Town Council the Green Party, supported by the so called ‘Independents’ forced through a rise of 27% in the town council part of the council tax, the largest rise I have ever seen in my seven years as a councillor.

“This was not due to government cuts, Cornwall Council cuts, inflation or any of the other excuses given.

“This was pure previous mismanagement and poor previous decision making by the ‘Green administration’ and they are now making the people of Newquay pay for it. 

“I want no part of it.

“Four former Mayors including myself all voted against the rise.

“All the experienced councillors, three committee chairs, with combined experience of over 60 years on the town council voted against.

“Labour, Lib Dems and the Conservatives all voted against the rise and we were outvoted

“Hypocrisy was rife.

“I witnessed extremely inexperienced councillors talk about the cost of living crisis in one breath and then vote against though the biggest rise in a generation. I am appalled.

“I am just sorry that we couldn’t win this vote for the people of Newquay.”

Lib Dem town councillor Joanna Kenny said: “I voted against Newquay Town Council’s budget and for once I was not the only holdout. 

“There was a cross party group of us, not normal political allies, but not enough to defeat the budget proposal.

 “This is a Rolls-Royce budget but I believed we should be aiming at a Skoda.

"My argument was that it was not appropriate to increase the precept by over half a million pounds – a massive 28% rise, hugely over the highest cost of living increases from which residents have been suffering. 

“The counter argument was that spread over the population of Newquay, the amount extra for an average household was only about £64, 26.96% increase as it was precisely pointed out, not 27%, amounting to just above £300 a year – and a total of over £600 for households on the highest band.

“Now I’ve been reviewing cost of living questionnaires largely in St Austell but throughout the constituency for months now.

"And residents tell me that these small sums really mount up when families face increases in the costs of food, petrol, energy, heating, mortgage payments and the inevitable maximum increase to Cornwall Council’s council tax and another £64 a year added to the rest will hurt.

“If our residents have to cut back, then so should have we in the town council.”

Labour town councillor Stephen Hick said: ““It’s obscene, a 27% increase was absolutely not necessary.

“The council is not just spending the ratepayers money questionably, but is seemingly ignorant of just how hard it is for many people.

“A 27% tax increase is huge, regardless of any patronising lecture on the pounds and pence amount.

"Those of us on or close to the breadline are being told by people who are far more comfortably well off that an average hike of around £70 ‘isn’t that much’ using the bizarre justification that everything else is going up too.

“Newquay Town Council needs to close a budget gap and it’s taken the easy route of forcing thousands of families, many living hand to mouth to pay more for no increase in services.

"Labour, Lib Dems and Tories are all agreeing this was a cruel and unjustifiable increase.

"Greens and Independents decided this budget.

“Temporary toilets at the railway station cost £120,000 and are still not open.

"That’s £50,000 over budget to provide toilets to people who are getting on or off a train that has accessible toilets on it anyway and who will almost certainly be going on to somewhere with toilets. 

“The entire area around the railway station is being redesigned and modernised presenting opportunities to work with people like GWR or to utilise and support local businesses with a community toilet scheme.

"At what point do we stop pouring good money after bad?”

Conservative Cllr Kevin Towill added: “After supporting this authority last year in declaring a cost of living crisis, I wouldn’t be able to look the people of Newquay in the eye after voting for a budget like this.

“Many of us at the time believe declaring a cost of living crisis would focus mind on this Council and that we would give due regard to the problem faced by so many of our residents.

“This budget and the process of setting it, I feel have made a mockery of the whole cost cost of living declaration.

“This year’s budget setting has been eccentric to say the least.

“All stages have happened late, particularly this Full Council budget meeting which is normally held the second week in December and if needed the budget is then finalised before the Christmas break.

“With this inflation busing increase we are faced with, I thought this year we would’ve been more careful and challenged our expenditure to the maximum degree.

“Instead, we are presented with a budget we can’t even amend so given that straightforward binary choice it is now quite an easy decision for me to vote against this budget, and hopefully if enough members are minded to work constructively over the next few weeks and prepare an alternative, which demonstrates we are working on behalf of the people of Newquay and putting their needs front and central with our decision making.”