Grants awarded to community groups are to be halved by Totnes Town Council in a bid to curb its spending during the current economic crisis.

Money earmarked for CCTV coverage will also be scrapped as town chiefs say they can’t keep “plugging the holes” left by the “underfunding” suffered by the police force.

Councillors agreed to a number of cost cutting measures at February’s full town council meeting, aimed at shaving £90,000 off expenditure in the forthcoming 2023/24 budget.

Following the recommendation by the council matters committee, councillors unanimously agreed to reduce community grants by £25,000.

They also voted to bin the £5,000 arts and events grant pot, and the £50,000 set aside for CCTV and traffic calming measures.

And they gave the green light to reducing money allocated for public seating and benches by £5,000 and to remove a further £5,000 from the pot for new planting, planters and trees in the town.

Catherine Marlton predicts an approximate town council reserve of £500,000 at the end of the 22/23 financial year, dropping to £300,000 at the end of the 23/24 financial year.

The minimum reserve level for a town council of this size is £250,000.

Council matters recommended £90,000 worth of savings.

Mayor, Cllr Emily Price, said: “It’s not savings we absolutely need in making sure our reserves are healthy at the end of 23/24 year, it’s just that if you look at the budget ongoing there’s going to be a lot more to recoup, or to cut, in the following years if we don’t start looking at it in advance.”

While councillors are slashing the community grants by £25,000, they are also looking an investing £25,000 in employing a community fundraiser (to be shared with Ivybridge Town Council) who, it is hoped, will help local charities and community groups to generate “significantly” more than they may have been awarded by the council.

The decision to remove CCTV funding from the budget was taken because town chiefs do not want to “plug” the police service’s underfunding gap.

Cllr Price explained: “It is nice to have - lots of things are - but really it’s yet another example of us kind of plugging the holes left in the underfunding of various other services, areas like policing, and we can’t keep doing all of that, especially in times when it’s a crunch.”

The mayor promised there would still be arts and events taking place in Totnes as the arts budget remains “healthy” and the Visit Totnes pot includes money for some arts and events.

The chances of Devon County Council and townsfolk agreeing to traffic calming measures in the High Street in the coming year is “limited” and therefore the money set aside for this would not need to be included in the budget for the next financial year, Cllr Price said.

And there is no reason why the council cannot continue to install some benches and planters. “Public seating and benches is a reduction from £10,000 to £5,000 on the grounds that we had done quite a lot of that. We can still, if we need to, put some benches in. Some of it was about restoration and keeping things nice in terms of bits of furniture around the town. £5,000 should cover it.

“Ditto reducing the new planters and planting. It is nice to have and it’s not suggesting we don’t do any more, but in terms of priorities we could knock a bit off.”