AS Wiltshire Council continues to hive off services to town and parish councils to save cash, it has been criticised for not lowering its own council tax costs.

Significant extra services, such as street cleaning and playgrounds, are expected to be taken over by town and parish councils from Wiltshire Council by 2020 through asset and devolution transfers.

However there are no plans for Wiltshire Council to lower its share of what it takes from residents through council tax and it plans to push up the cost by £42 from £1,414.57 to £1457.54 during tomorrow’s budget setting meeting.

Leader of the opposition LibDem Cllr Ian Thorn said: “There is an issue with asset transfers where town and parish councils are putting up precepts to pay for extra services, but people are not seeing that reduction in their council tax paid to Wiltshire Council.”

Towns including Devizes have already had an asset transfer agreed and towns like Westbury and Corsham expect to take on more services, such as grass cutting and building maintenance, in the next few years.

This year some towns have put up precepts in anticipation of the extra costs that could be created from the increase in local services they must run.

Although town and parish councils can set their own precepts, local authorities are capped at a three per cent increase.

Wiltshire Council has hired two extra solicitors to speed up the delegation process.

Corsham Town Council increased its precept by £15.22 and Corsham chairman Cllr Steve Abbott said: “The future devolution is a reason for the significant increase. It is something that has come out of the blue, although there’s been rumours, for example two years ago when public loos went.”

Chippenham agreed to put precepts up by 37.5 per cent, or an increase of £65.41 a year for an average Band D household, as it starts to take on the running of markets, freehold buildings and litter picking.

Westbury Town Council increased its precept in line with inflation and councillors discussed the impact taking on extra assets would have on their budgets.

Westbury mayor Cllr Ian Cunningham said: “We are aware of significant delegation coming our way. We have to increase the precept so we can pay for it but Wiltshire Council keeps moving the goalposts. Now the date estimated for devolution has been moved forward to 2020.

“It is hard for us to keep rising the precept in anticipation but if you look at the kind of figures to run these services, they can be as much as £200k, so our £150k can go very quickly.”

Cllr Richard Clewer, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for corporate services, said: “Local communities are best placed to know what will make their towns thrive.”

Other areas of concern raised by Cllr Thorn included the lack of funding being put towards assets being kept by the council.

He added: “Assets have been allowed to degrade and you get to the situation where we were with Oxenwood and Braeside where there is isn’t funding to repair so it has to be put on the marker rather than investing over time. It is the result of ten years of scrimping and saving and we get to the point where if we don’t do the basics the roof will collapse. It is not easy but other councils seem to be able to be doing better.”