FOR the first time in years, Stratton residents will not see an increase in their parish precept - they will actually pay slightly less.

The people living in one of the biggest parishes in the country have seen an annual rise in the amount they pay towards providing community services for the past few years.

But this time around, councillors worked hard to keep the amount steady and even managed to slightly reduce the charge that each Band D household will pay over the next financial year.

Stratton St Margaret Parish Council chairman Coun Robert Jandy said: "Considering we were still transitioning the partnership with Parkwood Leisure and there was a reduction in staff, I am proud that a decrease was achievable.

"I would like to thank the officers and fellow parish councillors in making this possible . There is always more work that can be done but we are on the start of that journey and we have the people to achieve it."

The precept is set at £1,369,964 on the tax base of 7,287.90 Band D households. The charge of £187.98 per annum represents a decrease of £5.05 per annum.

The council appointing Parkwood Leisure as a partner to take over much of the management of Grange Leisure helped make significant savings for their budget.

A long list of improvements for the area is on the cards as councillors have thought of many ways to use these savings to benefit the people they serve.

The money will go tow towards projects such as the employment of a youth worker to help combat anti-social behaviour, improvements to the Beechcroft Library and community hub, a feasibility study for a new skate park, open space improvements, and efforts which will work towards combatting climate change through the introduction of electric vehicles and more efficient ways of working.

Coun Tim Page said: "After years and years of precept increases, the idea of handing the leisure centre over to Parkwood is showing benefits. No-one likes paying their council tax - I know I don't - so the lower the amount we can extort from people, the better."

The rate is technically the same as last year but the increase in the number of houses in Stratton has meant that each household will now pay slightly less towards the precept.

The 2019/2020 precept was three per cent higher than the year before. The 2018/2019 precept was 13 per cent higher than the year before.