Payback set to cost councils

WORK carried out by convicted offenders to clean up villages and towns in North Somerset will now cost councils �100 a session.

The plans have been implemented by the Avon and Somerset Probation Trust and will see fees required before the community payback team carries out work.

The charges have come under fire though, with some saying the teams’ ‘valuable’ work should not become a financial burden on smaller councils.

Payback teams of offenders carry out work that can include cleaning, maintenance and decorating in villages across the region.

Jeremy Britton, manager of the Avon and Somerset community payback team, said: “We think it’s very good value, it is very useful work that the teams carry out. We’ve got to the stage where we feel comfortable that for �100 you can get 50 to 70 hours’ work when you add up the amount of work given by the team.”

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But North Somerset Council representative Tim Marter has slammed the decision to impose charges.

He said: “The unpaid work is valuable and beneficial for the communities where the teams do work.

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“Some of the parish councils have precepts of �3,000 a year, and they cannot afford to pay �100 for a day’s work.

“I strongly believe the rural community is going to be disadvantaged by this change.

“Only the rich town councils can afford this service now and that’s not right.”

Representatives of the community payback team have agreed to meet with Cllr Marter and council officers to attempt to reach a compromise.

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