THE £100,000 raised by a Stone Town Council tax hike for the failed Crown Wharf project could be used to kickstart an indoor market, a resident has suggested.
Four years after Stone Town Council increased the council tax by 50 per cent - an extra £17 per Band D household - to fund the purchase of Crown Wharf the cash is still in council coffers as the project failed to progress.
But Richard Evans, of Meadowbrook Court, has asked the town council to consider using the cash to get an indoor market off the ground. The indoor market proposal was discussed at the December 2012 council meeting.
Mr Evans also asked the town council last week what it plans to do to improve the High Street in the wake of plans for more retail space at the nearby Trentham Estate.
“I think the town needs to move forward. When you look at Trentham Gardens, we are getting left behind. We should be a tourist destination,” he told councillors.
“I would like to see more varied traders within the town. There is no toy shop, nothing for the kids. And with the level of musicality in this town there are no music shops apart from Tim Toft Violins.
Musicians have to travel to Stafford to buy equipment.
“I would like to see more market traders for a market town. To have five traders in town on a weekly basis isn’t much of a pull, apart from the monthly farmers’ market which is a great success.
“There are people interested in using the old wine shop for an indoor market.
Offering market stalls could tie in with Totally Locally and it could provide a small income for the town council.” Councillors’ plans to return the Crown Wharf cash two years ago through a oneyear council tax reduction were scuppered by the Government’s Localism Act. The legislation forces councils into calling a referendum on tax rises if they are above a prescribed limit .
Town councillors feared that reducing the precept one year and returning to the usual level the following year could trigger a referendum and a rejection by electors of the tax bill would be disastrous for the council’s financial future.
So far the Government has not introduced this measure for parish and town councils, but the decision has been made on an annual basis and the measure could come into force in future years.
Town councillors have proposed contacting Local Government Minister Eric Pickles to ask if their situation could be treated as a special case to allow them to return the cash to taxpayers without fear of consequence.