It’s that time of year again, when we hear of our council tax and other local taxes going up and up. Yet we’re seeing more and more elected representatives standing up for the taxpayer and committing themselves to fighting against tax increases. First we reported how Hammersmith and Fulham council are cutting council tax for the second year running. Now TPA activist Cllr Neil Martin of Wembury Parish Council explains here why he will be voting against his local Parish Precept increase at tonight’s Parish Council meeting:
“Currently, I serve as a member of a fairly well off parish council in Devon. Last year, I promised to vote against any rise in our precept and to produce an alternative budget. Although we’ve got few real responsibilities and are at the bottom of the council tax food chain - with the district and county councils, police and fire service all getting in on the act - the only way to demonstrate that services can be provided for a lower cost is to start at the very bottom where people can see things, especially as parish councils are the only tier of local government that is funded wholly by local taxpayers.
However, this isn’t just about high falutin’ principles that I can discard until the next election: it’s a question of efficiency and good budget management. In common with other parish councils, we’ve got pretty hefty reserves, and we don’t have any major projects planned. If we were a larger council, questions would be asked - if we were a private company, we’d be giving money back to the shareholders. We’re in a position to levy a precept of getting on for zero and still have the money to run things for a year: even including an increase in staff costs.
Staffing costs are another issue altogether: here in Devon national pay scales increase costs way beyond comparable jobs locally. This is at a very local level admittedly - I’m not pretending this is a major part of the council tax - but it’s something that will resonate with people in rural areas who wonder why they pay loads and don’t seem to get very much. In a way, we’re lucky that it can even be considered- people in urban areas don’t come close to this kind of relationship with how their money is spent.
So, with families facing rising costs everywhere, and with money in the bank, I will be voting against any precept rise and in favour of a cut.
Cllr. Neil Martin
Wembury Parish Council”
Cllr Martin raises some very good points TPA activists should be asking their district, town and parish councils. How hefty are their reserves? Where can savings be made, leading to cuts in the future? These questions need to be answered so we can hold to account any council that increases taxes.
If you’re an elected councillor, of any party, and you’re making a bold stand against tax hikes, then do get in touch with me so we can publicise your fight for taxpayers and show the depth of support for tax cuts in the country.