The people of Falmouth will see a council tax hike of 21% next year in order to pay for the takeover of the town’s iconic entertainment venue.
The increase will allow the town council to take over the Princess Pavilion and Gyllyngdune Gardens from GLL and will equate to around £1.20 a week for a band D property. There was £300,000 in the budget just for it to standstill.
The 21% increase would only be for the town council’s proportion of the council tax and not the overall council tax for the year.
At a meeting of the town council’s finance and general purposes committee this week, members unanimously voted to approve the budget for next year.
Opening the debate Falmouth mayor Steve Eva said it was a big budget with a big number but what they were getting was a lot.
“This is a one -off chance to take over a facility which basically we should have anyway,” he said. “It should have been ours. It should never have been given away by anybody else and it is the big bulk of the money in this budget.
“It’s an asset, when you think about that it’s probably worth around five million, if not more, and if we don’t buy it someone’s going to snap it up for an absolute bargain and we can’t guarantee what would happen to it after that.
“It’s always safer in our hands than in anyone else’s hands then we’re in charge of it and nobody else can dictate what we do with it.”
He said the Kimberley Park lodge was in a ‘desperate’ state and it was time that it was sorted out.
Coun Alan Jewell said he thought the council had to be very careful how they went with a proposed increase of 21%.
“I think we’ve got to be very careful here with all our aspirations,” he said “With this pandemic and the way things are with people’s jobs and the money situation within our community.”
He said he thought smaller projects like the skate park should be put on hold for another year but the major projects should go ahead.
“Twenty one per cent is one heck of an increase,” he said. “I mean we’re asking public sector people who are going to have a pay freeze, private sector who’re going to have unprecedented unemployment next year once the furlough scheme winds right down and is it fair on the people of Falmouth to have a 21 per cent increase?”
Coun John Spargo said once the pavilions were up and running they would pay for themselves and this budget was a one-off hit.
Councillors were told that the Pavilion accounted for around 60% of the budget increase this year, around 70 pence of the £1.20 increase.
Coun Jude Robinson said the council needed to have vision about this and look at all the cultural events that were planned for next year that should be bringing in thousands and thousands of visitors.
“You can tighten your belt and tighten your belt and, in the end, you just fall over. You know it’s about looking to the future.”
The budget was passed unanimously and will now go to full council for final approval.