ANDOVER Town Council has cost taxpayers more than £1 million since its inception in 2010, a Freedom of Information Request has revealed.

The figures show the authority has collected a total of £1,028,806 from its seven council tax precepts, raising an average of £145,000 a year.

With around 43,000 people living in the parish of Andover, according to 2015 figures, it means the town council has cost around £23 per head since its formation.

This year’s precept figure, of £261,651, played a significant role in pushing the town council over the million pound mark.

The figure is nearly double the amount of tax raised when compared to the previous year, after it raised its precept by 90 per cent this year.

Hampshire County Council representative for Andover South Tony Hooke has reacted angrily to the figures.

He told the Advertiser: “It is staggering amount of money being wasted there and it has got to stop.

“All they do is run the allotments but they would be better run if it was done by committees and run by themselves.”

The council was originally formed in April 2010 after residents in Andover agreed to the new authority through a public referendum.

The idea came following pressure from group Campaign for Andover Town Council (CATC).

After its formation in April 2010, elections were held to chose the council’s original members, which included current Test Valley Borough Council representative, Phil North.

The Conservative councillor, and former chairman of the town council’s finance committee, said: “I worked hard with colleagues to give the town council credibility in its early days.

“A big part of that was to hold down council tax, freezing it for three out of four years.

“I believe Andover Town Council has an important role to play in improving Andover, and their work contributing to the Andover Vision is testament to that.

“However, I do think they need to be more transparent about the cost of their future plans and justify to Andover taxpayers why they need such a large precept.”

Despite the criticism, current town council chairman, Katherine Bird, believes the authority has proved value for money.

She said: “My view is that the town council has given Andover a voice.

“Before the town council all Test Valley or Hampshire County Council had for feedback was directly from letters from residents or through the paper.”

Asked about the council’s achievements, Cllr Bird stated that the authority had played a major part in the reformation of Andover Vision as well as the recent redevelopment of Andover High Street.

Cllr Bird said that the new Chantry Centre cladding and the redevelopment of the Upper High Street had both come from discussions by the town council.

Asked about the future, Cllr Bird said: “The goal is to provide more services to residents so they are getting the best value for money and proper scrutiny for the services that are being provided.”

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