Town and parish councils invariably slip under the radar when it comes to scrutiny. Their budgets tend to be small and although in percentage terms some of the precept increases are large, in monetary terms they are rather small. Dover Town Council is a prime example of this.
This year the council increased its Council Tax precept by 34 per cent – then said that it was really only 3 per cent because that is what the combined county/district/parish etc. rise came to. What is interesting though is the council's priorities. What is it spending local taxpayers' money on?
Well, we know what it isn't spending money on. Dover's annual carnival took place on 7 July. Last year the council awarded a grant of £3,150, but this year refused to fund the carnival in any way, despite the opinion of local traders that Dover needs such events and that they bring in tourism and trade. As a result the procession that took place was smaller than it might have been and because of the uncertainty and lack of publicity, many people missed it as they didn't know it was happening
So far this year though the council is due to spend £1,000 on gifts and presentations; £9,500 on mayor’s hospitality, mayor-making and mayoral expenses of office; £1,500 on insuring civic regalia; £500 on robes; and over £11,000 on a new civic car for the mayor. That does beg the question, why does a town the size of Dover need a civic car? Couldn't the mayor be paid reasonable expenses for official use of their own car?
Whatever your views are about helping fund a carnival, Dover Town Council needs to consider promoting the town more, rather than itself.