A BRIDGWATER Town Council meeting will be held this week to discuss the budget for 2024, including a planned council tax increase of around 164%.

The meeting will be held at the Town Hall on Thursday, February 1 from 7pm.

Council tax in Bridgwater has increased notably over the past two years - from 2022/23, a band D household paid £91.31 per year, and this price increased to £112.05 in the following year.

For 2024/25, it is proposed that a band D household would pay £295.33 per year in council tax, although this is dependent on the outcome of the budget meeting at the Town Hall.

The 164% increase applies to all council tax bands in the area; households in band A would go from paying £74.70 per year in 2023/24 to £196 per year in 2024/25.

Cllr Brian Smedley, Leader of Bridgwater Town Council, said: "80% of the people of Bridgwater are on band A or B and rises in precepts for them will be very modest for them, some £10 a month increase for a band A, which is most of Bridgwater."

Last year, Bridgwater Town Council took pride on the low council tax in the area, and a spokesperson said: "The Council Tax charge relating to Bridgwater Town Council for 2023-2 will be £112.05 a year based on a Band D property and is the one of lowest of the council tax charges of all the major towns in Somerset.

Taunton Town Council has also proposed an increase in council tax for the town; from £107 to £299 a year for a band D home.

Cllr Smedley said that the 'very modest' increase in council tax in Bridgwater would help to 'take back control' of local assets and services.

"In return, we stop the parks closing, save jobs, and keep money in the town," he said.

"We are taking on community facilities such as the rollercoaster in Sydenham as we’ve done with ReCreation in Hamp.

"We are taking over the running of the fair, we take on the docks and we do our own street sweeping and gully cleaning which will make a massive change."

According to the meeting agenda, other proposed increases to the town council budget for 2024 include a new expenditure of £19,840 for councillor allowances (£1,240 per councillor), and £1.4million to take on Parks and Open Spaces and Street Cleaning.

It is planned that the £1.4million would go towards purchasing new machines and vehicles to make improvements to parks and open spaces, including new litter and recycle bins.

The news comes after Somerset Council proposed a county-wide ten percent rise in council tax and encouraged town councils to take on more responsibilities as a result of the unitary council's ongoing financial emergency.

It was announced last week that the UK Government could provide up to £5million in funding to Somerset Council, although this is not even close to filling the budget gap of £100million for next year.