Yesterday the “independent” growth taskforce (hint: it’s anything but independent) urged cities across the UK that they needed to be “HS2 ready”. This announcement by the taskforce was accompanied by a glossy document talking of a “once in a generation chance” and full of soundbites and spin, but not much else. Alas, there was no mention of the soaring bill for the project, the opportunity cost of spending £80 billion on it or the worse service that vast swathes of the country would receive through the existing rail network if HS2 goes ahead. It’s no surprise that HS2’s cheerleaders are trying to generate some good headlines, however, since the project really has failed to stand up to scrutiny after a few days in the media spotlight. Continue Reading
Cornish councillors have voted against a call for an eye-watering Council Tax increase of 6 per cent. They rejected it by 79 votes to 33, with two abstentions. ‘I don’t think it’s right to ask people in Cornwall to pay more than they have to,’ said Alex Folkes, cabinet member for finance and resources. ‘A 6 per cent hike in the bill would be a wrong one.’
The councillor who suggested the massive hike was ‘surprised at how few of the councillors were prepared to think about a more significant rise in Council Tax.’ But that’s not the pain over for Cornish taxpayers. Cornwall Council will now debate a 1.97 per cent increase in November. Of course, having won plaudits for rejecting such a massive increase, many councillors will now see the just below 2 per cent increase as a more reasonable request—and hope taxpayers will do too. Call me cynical, but maybe that was the plan all along—first frighten the taxpayers and then slip in a lower increase, one that is just below the threshold for a public referendum. Continue Reading
Folkestone Town (parish) Council has put £400,000 towards a World War One memorial arch organised by a group called Short Step. The charity has failed to raise its part of the money, so taxpayers face the prospect of being lumbered with another £19,000. It’s a worthy idea, but is it really the best use of taxpayers’ money ? Surely this is something better left to private charitable donations rather that spending huge amounts of taxpayers’ money without necessary safeguards. Local feeling is running high and the Folkestone Herald newspaper has launched a readers’ poll as to whether their money should be spent thus, or the project abandoned – Folkestone already having several war memorials. At the time of writing the poll is about to close and the “no’s” stand at 72% (over 1,200 responses). Continue Reading
Responding to the announcement of the strike price for new nuclear power stations, Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:
“Yet again consumers and taxpayers are footing the bill for politicians to intervene in the dysfunctional energy market that they have created. Subsidies to guarantee investment in nuclear power will be paid for by households through higher energy bills, at a time when throwing money at uneconomic forms of renewable energy has already pushed bills to breaking point. The Treasury’s financial guarantee creates the danger of taxpayers bailing out French state-owned EDF if something goes wrong with the deal. Ministers should instead focus on more affordable forms of power generation available today, rather than guaranteeing profits for energy firms and leaving families to pay the price.”
On Saturday we launched our campaign against Cardiff Council’s barmy proposal to introduce monthly bin collections. Local TPA supporters gathered signatures to our petition opposing the idea, and even though parts of Cardiff were flooded, the residents of Llandaff and Whitchurch turned out in force to add their support. Over 300 signatures were collected in just over two hours.
Many local residents were shocked to hear of the proposal, with many asking why their local representatives weren’t standing up for them. They also expressed concern at potential infestations of rodents and fly tipping. Continue Reading