Published: 12:01, 08 April 2021
| Updated: 16:21, 09 April 2021
Plans for a council to buy a permanent office are nearing completion.
Solicitors acting for Walmer Parish Council have asked the authority for the £33,500 deposit for the purchase of a terraced house 300m along the road from its present rented base.
The sum makes up 10% of the £335,000 property purchase for 62 The Strand.
The move had caused some controversy, with some questioning whether it is a wise use of public funds, not least because the property is not big enough to accommodate council meetings.
Councillors who are pro the investment say every penny currently spent on rent or maintenance from the public purse “brings no long term benefit to Walmer ratepayers.”
Last October we reported Cllr Mike Eddy said: “Since we have been there, we have already spent some £65,000 on rent and making the room fit for purpose and if we see out the remaining seven years of the lease it will be at least another £42,000 gone forever.”
That month the council agreed to move forward with a financing plan that entails borrowing £250,000 from the Public Works Loan Board over a 20 year term.
It already has £72,000 in reserve.
The loan would be paid back by cash raked in from an 11% rise in the council tax precept.
The majority of Walmer Parish Council members agree the current leased office at 8 The Strand brings no long term benefit to parishioners, as well as being too small and lacking in privacy.
At a meeting of the council last night, a majority of 8 agreed that the deposit should be paid to conveyancer, Deal based Hardmans. Former chairman Cllr Pat Health was against and Cllr David Thompson abstained from the vote.
Cllr Mike Eddy says raising the precept comes after a period of no rises at all.
An extra £9.42 extra will be added on to the council tax bill per year for someone living in a band D property "and most households in Walmer will pay less than that," he said.
The increase for the office move alone will be £5 per household. The remaining sum will pay to fund the Parish Council’s share of projects to instal secure cycle storage at Walmer station, to provide electric vehicle charging points in the parish and to create a trim trail.
He said: "On a like for like basis Walmer’s council tax in the current financial year will still be less that Deal’s (£58.08 compared to Deal’s £59.46) and less than half the current levy imposed by Sandwich which has also increased its levy by a further £12.41 in real terms.
Out of 35 parish-level councils in Dover district, Walmer comes in at number 17 in terms of its council tax levy."
The meeting heard the purchase is now at the stage where “solicitors are talking to each other” and the local searches have been completed.
The authority is exploring the prospect of renting out rooms for community use providing an income stream.
The council has published all correspondence in relation to the purchase.