Proposals to reduce the cost of Andover town council were refused to be heard at a full council meeting last night (30th November 2017).
Councillor Len Gates used a little known piece of procedural regulation to block debate over a motion put forward by Cllr Richard Rowles and Cllr Christopher Ecclestone.
Cllr Gates called for a vote to not discuss the agenda item which proposed a £50,000 reduction in the town council precept.
A precept is the monies requested by the town council which is paid by Test Valley Borough Council from residents’ council tax.
The current Andover town council precept is £262,000 a year and it’s understood that the council bank balance stands at over £450,000. The proposed budget can be downloaded here: V6_Budget_with_Band_D_for_Council_26.01.2016.
7 town councillors voted not to hear the motion. 3 abstained and 4 councillors were in favour of hearing the motion, including Labour councillor Andy Fitchet.
Cllr Rowles says, “The council’s ballooning budget should’ve been discussed. This motion could help struggling Andover families.
“Some individuals seem to think they live in a world of unicorns and rainbows where money grows on trees.
“Whereas we are a council and not a business, we should show the taxpayer we are responsible and frugal.”
On Spotted in Andover, Cllr Fitchet said, “I think we should have a debate about these things and see if the proposers can convinve other councillors of their argument.”
Cllr Ecclestone added, “Current bank balance is £478,000. The slush fund is your money and the likes of Cllr Gates are claiming that it’s better [in the Town Council] than in your pocket. The taxpayers are being taken to the cleaners.”
Response from Andover Town Council:
Cllrs Rowles and Ecclestone tabled a motion, the content of which was already covered in the next item on the agenda. On this basis, at the meeting, the Town Councillors voted not to duplicate the debate. Under an established procedure the motion was not debated, so that Council could instead debate the issue in full as covered by the subsequent report.
Cllrs Rowles and Ecclestone left before the report was discussed, and therefore did not give themselves an opportunity to raise their points, and so did not participate in the discussion.
As per proper procedure, this draft budget will now be discussed in all committee meetings over the next month, and a final budget will be brought to Full Council in January.