BRIDGWATER Town Council has slightly increased its precept after passing its 2019/20 budget this week.

Council leader Brian Smedley announced at the town council's meeting on Thursday night that Bridgwater's precept for a Band D property would be £59.51 for the year, up from £56.50 last year.

With an increased tax base as the local population continues to grow, this means the town council will bring in £596,000 on its precept this year, compared to £549,226 for 2018/19.

Cllr Smedley said Bridgwater Town Council had managed its finances well in recent years and was able to adapt to the fact the Government Support Grant would be removed.

"Bridgwater Town Council is the smallest of all three local authorities but we believe it is the closest to the people and that we punch above our weight and aspire to do even more so," Cllr Smedley said.

Cllr Smedley said this would be a 'continuation budget' as there are elections in May, meaning there were no cuts proposed.

"We also have a new, additional and very welcome source of extra funding in the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)," Cllr Smedley said.

The CIL funding, which comes from a levy on housing developers, currently stands at £26,000 but is projected to increase by £75,000 in 2019/20 and again similarly in 2020/21.

Cllr Smedley said: "This important new fund will be targeted at heritage and infrastructure projects.

"Items for immediate consideration include the historic Bridgwater Arts Centre (BAC).

"Based on the current conditions survey, we will also enter into initial and very tentative negotiations with the owners Sedgemoor District Council; along with the BAC board of directors to ascertain possible repair costs, best use of resources, future ownership and operational options."

Cllr Smedley also said the CIL money could be put towards bringing the upper floors of the Town Hall back into community use and helping the water mill restoration project at Blake Museum led by Stewart Richards.

The town council will also sponsor all three major sports in the town, the fireworks, Quayside Festival, Town Team, Flower Show, Chamber of Commerce and the Christmas Lights.