WEYMOUTH residents facing a hike in the cost of living have been thrown a lifeline – as the town council is to REDUCE its portion of council tax.

While unitary authority Dorset Council has announced a three per cent rise in council tax for the coming 2022/23 financial year, Weymouth Town Council has opted to cut the amount will charge on top of that as a precept - helping to keep costs down for local residents.

The overall yearly rates are set by Dorset Council, which collects the tax. Police and fire services, and town and parish councils claim an additional precept.

However this year Weymouth Town Council has announced a five per cent reduction to its precept, following a debate at an online Full Council meeting on Wednesday evening.

As a result Weymouth residents will face a smaller than expected annual increase to their council tax bill this April.

It means the average Band D property will pay £176.41 a year to Weymouth Town Council - compared to last year's precept of £185.69.

The town council precept will go towards maintaining Weymouth's award-winning beach, as well as parks, gardens and play areas, cemeteries and allotments, and the town centre. Meanwhile the town council said it is to carry out £4.12 million worth of works over the coming year.

Councillor David Northam was among those in support of the council tax reduction, arguing that the council ought to do more for residents instead of putting more money into its own coffers.

"Things are likely to be pretty dire from April - I see no point in taking extra money from rate payers - we have enough in our reserves," councillor Graham Lambert agreed.

Councillor Luke Wakeling raised concerns the cut could result in less money for improvements to Radipole Park and Gardens, while councillor Kate Wheller had similar concerns regarding projects at The Marsh.

Some reassurance was offered by finance portfolio holder councillor David Gray who said money has been saved from previous underspend, and that the council tax should not be raised on the basis of a 'what if' scenario.

There was agreement among members that officers had carried out due diligence in budgeting for the year head, and following a vote the proposal to reduce the precept was carried forward.

Mayor of Weymouth Colin Huckle said: “While many councils are increasing residents’ council tax bills, we recognise that people are already struggling with rising living costs. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to provide frontline services and amenities efficiently, without asking residents to bear any additional costs through Weymouth Town Council’s share of council tax.”

The decision will now be rubber-stamped at the next in-person Full Council meeting.

To read the committee report in full visit www.weymouthtowncouncil.gov.uk/committee/