Properties get a makeover courtesy of the taxpayer

A letter arrived today from a disgruntled WMTPA supporter who was surprised to learn that £1million of taxpayers’ money was being used to ‘spruce-up’ the exteriors of private shops and houses on two streets in Burton.


Burton1 According to a Burton Mail article the facades of the properties will be replastered, their ‘energy efficiency’ will be improved and all will be subject to a publically-funded ‘tidy up’.  The report is accompanied by a photograph of Terry Bushell, of Terry Bushell Travel, who stands smiling outside his shop, no doubt delighted at the news of this unexpected and complimentary renovation. 


“The fronts of the 77 properties will be tidied up to make a more positive impact on the street scene”, crows project manager Laura Hunt, adding: “For instance, if a building requires double glazing or loft insulation then that will be installed. There is no cost to any of the homeowners or shopkeepers in this work because it’s all funded by grants from central government”.


Ahh, yes. Central government where they – of course – manufacture money.


In a consultation exchange that presumably went something like –
 “Can we do up your house/business?”
“How much will it cost?
“It’s free because everyone else will pay”
– rather unsurprisingly these plans have received the backing from ‘every single resident and shopkeeper affected’.  Not least Terry by the looks of it.


But what about the numerous taxpaying property owners who’d love to give their premises a revamp but just can’t afford to because they’re short of cash, in no small part because they’re burdened paying taxes to fund this sort of project?


And with six more of these 'regenerative schemes' in the offing it looks as though this will cost a few more million before it’s done. West-Mids-TPA-logo


It’s difficult to take issue with the good intentions behind this, and at the heart of the mission are exactly the things we expect our money to go on – restoring pavements, replacing street lighting – exactly the sort of stuff that tops the list of what many residents value in terms of frontline services. But, as is often the case with local government,  it’s been taken too far with so many additional swags and drapes attached that it’s now likely to upset those who are having to shell out for another business or family to luck out whilst they’re struggling to keep their own heads above water.


If these properties need restoring then it is, ultimately, the responsibility of the owner, not the taxpayer. Perhaps if the council hadn’t spent so much money polishing their halo with expensive plans like this, they could’ve reduced the tax burden and allowed proprietors to make their own choices with their own cash in terms of renovation. 


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