On Saturday 16th February, the TaxPayer's Alliance will be holding a protest against proposed hikes in Council Tax across Greater Manchester. At the end of last year, Rochdale Council announced plans to increase Council Tax by 3.5 per cent. The Localism Act requires councils to hold a local referendum if they propose increases above 2 per cent, however Rochdale will not be asking the voters what they think. Local news website, Rochdale Online, explains why:
The council believes it has spotted a loophole. This threshold doesn't apply to precepts or levies which the council does not directly control and therefore plans to use the Localism Act to exclude hikes to waste and transport bills from the headline rate of council tax increases.
The unelected Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority is planning a 19 per cent increase in its levy, and the unelected Transport for Greater Manchester a 5.8 per cent increase. The decisions are made by (mostly Labour) councillors appointed from the local authorities that constitute their membership. A satisfactory arrangement for the councillors who are paid an array of special responsibility allowances to sit on the assorted committees.
Since then Manchester City Council has announced an increase of 3.7 per cent, and now Oldham has followed with a proposed rise of 3.5 per cent. Many other councils in Greater Manchester are expected to follow suit. Even though elected councillors sit on the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority and the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, and have collectively agreed to such large hikes, they are now trying to wash their hands of those decisions and instead inflict large tax increases on local residents.
At a full council meeting last night, leader of Rochdale Conservatives, Ashley Dearnley, proposed a motion calling for a Council Tax freeze. This was supported by opposition councillors, however was defeated by the ruling group. The Budget will be formally agreed next month.
To make matters worse for Greater Manchester residents, newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner and former MP, Tony Lloyd, is proposing a rise which will further increase Council Tax bills.
On Saturday 16 February, the TPA is holding a protest in Albert Square, Manchester (outside Manchester Town Hall) at 12 noon. We will be protesting against all Greater Manchester councils who propose a rise in Council Tax, and it will be taking place on the weekend before councils across the area start holding their budget setting meetings.
Please make a special effort to join us if you can. If you are on Facebook, to can register to attend by clicking on this link. If you use Twitter, send me a tweet. If you prefer, you can contact me by e-mail. You can of course just turn up on the day, and please bring along your family and friends too, although we would like an idea of the numbers of people attending so we can inform Greater Manchester Police. We will also publish a full list of speakers closer to the event.
What: Greater Manchester Council Tax Protest
When: 12.00 noon, Saturday 16th February
Where: Albert Square, Manchester (Outside Manchester Town Hall)