RESIDENTS in Stratton St Margaret will continue to pay on average £105 a year to the parish council after the council froze its precept.

The council has made a number of efficiency savings in order to keep the precept down, including scaling back salaries for the clerk and deputy clerk. Originally both salaries totalled £52,900 a year, but this has now been scaled back to come out of a budget of £48,700 a year.

Nigel Chalk, finance officer at the Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, was pleased that they had been able to freeze the precept, in real terms making a saving as the inflation rate hits two per cent. It is also hoped the refurbished Grange Leisure Centre will start to pay for itself.

He said: “Our leisure centre isn’t run by the borough unlike other leisure centres and we have to pay for that as well as the running of the council. We have frozen the precept which actually means a saving for residents.”

However, the high precept continues to be controversial.

Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “Stratton needs to get a grip of itself. Last year’s parish council tax increase was agreed in secret, this year the £52,000 a year clerk is sacked with a rumoured payoff, the deputy clerk resigns, no budget consultation and no resident in Stratton, Coleview or Nythe has a clue what the parish are actually doing for the £750,000 they pay in taxes yet the parish is happy to pay a new clerk £48,000 a year.

“The one saving grace is that after years of pressure, Stratton parish have frozen their parish council tax.”