Council tax hike is to keep pool afloat

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A TOWN council says a hike in its annual tax bill is simply a matter of covering the costs of the local swimming pool.

Those living in Wirksworth are facing a three per cent rise in the precept to help pay for the well-used pool which a group of trustees has stepped in to save.

Derbyshire Dales District Council suggested several years ago that the facility should be run as a private business to help cut down on its costs – despite opposition from town leaders who felt it should continue to be run and paid for by the district council. With little option, a group of dedicated trustees took the reins and last year Wirksworth Town Council agreed to provide a grant of £12,000, spread over three years, to assist.

Cllr Andy Pollock said: “We have not put council tax up for a while because of the recession and people are struggling but we decided that the pool is so important it needs keeping open. and we need to tell the people of the town they are making their contribution through council tax.

“The fact that we have put the precept up is because we have to keep it running. It should be the responsibility of the district council.

“The council is trying to pass responsibilities down to town and parish councils and the swimming pool in Wirksworth is just one major example.”

The average band D household in Wirksworth faces a tax rise of just over a £2 for the next financial year.

This means a band D household will pay £62.01 to Wirksworth Town Council over the year rather than £59.92.

The precepts set by the police and fire service and the Derbyshire Dales District Council are yet to be announced.

Derbyshire County Council has announced it will freeze its precept for the second year running.

Meanwhile, the Wirksworth Swimming Pool Working Group say they are on course to take control of the pool in April.

The eight trustees have appointed a pool manager and with the money received from both Wirksworth Town Council and Darley Dale District Council, they have put a three-year plan in place.

Trustee David Baker said: “We are very grateful to both councils for their support, we know it was a lot of money for a small town council and it was a difficult decision to take the money.

“We are starting to put together some exciting plans for the pool and we are feeling optimistic.

“There’s a tremendous amount of work involved but we feel passionately about it.”

It is expected that maintenance work will be carried out in April and the pool with expected to be closed for a few weeks during that time.