Great Dunmow town square scheme 'Spiralling out of control' says councillor

PUBLISHED: 08:03 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:32 30 May 2010

DUNMOW residents will be paying £85,000 more in council tax for town council services next year as a result of a new town square scheme spiralling out of control . According to town councillor Milan Milovanovic, a 21 per cent increase in the council s ta

DUNMOW residents will be paying £85,000 more in council tax for town council services next year as a result of a new town square scheme "spiralling out of control".

According to town councillor Milan Milovanovic, a 21 per cent increase in the council's tax precept - which will see residents forking out an extra £22.54 per year for a band D property - is a direct result of the council building a new square in White Street.

He said: "The council is now in a precarious financial position and this new town square scheme is not the be all and end all. We should think about scrapping it because we need to save a lot of money.

"We are not even sure if everyone wants a town square, and since the beginning it was supposed to be a self-financing project yet it has spiralled out of control. We need to pull back and not do it this year.

"I would prefer to see capital projects maintained as they benefit the town ten-fold compared to a town square."

Dunmow's finance and policy committee had to agree a list of cuts before submitting the agreed 2010/11 budget to the full council tonight (Thursday January 28).

Cutbacks included slashing money to provide any new sports facilities, including a new football ground at the Broadway.

There will be no cash at all for new play equipment, street furniture or footpaths. A budget to provide a community woodland near the A120 has been reduced by 50 per cent.

Council staff will also have to grin and bare some of the financial pain, as money for new computers was axed and maintenance costs on the council's properties were cut by £5000. However, some staff could still see a pay rise following a review later this year.

The town square will cost around £100,000 to build with construction costs being met by grants from local authorities and developers. But it is thought that the costs of surveying and designing are now putting a strain on the council's finances.

Mr Milovanovic's claims have been refuted by several other council members who are adamant that the new square will be good for the town.

Cllr Carol James said: "We carried out a thorough survey in the town centre before the project got under way - almost everyone we spoke to was in favour of the square."

Finance and policy chairman Cllr John Davey, said that over three quarters of the people surveyed liked the scheme and wanted it. He did say that the other cuts were necessary however, adding: "We have to keep our reserves high, but we should have put extra money aside last year."

WHAT DO YOU THINK? This week we are running an online poll on the new town square - we are asking the simple question, DO YOU WANT IT? Simply click YES or NO. We'll publish the results in next week's Broadcast

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