A latest prediction indicates that this year, band D council taxes will increase by four per cent to an average of £48 to cover age care levy of two per cent and a shortfall in central government funding of roughly two per cent.
As one of your correspondents recently surmised, this ought to be the catalyst for greater accountability at local level.
While I agree with Paul Walls, may I be allowed to say that local government – in its present form – is a badly functioning democratic model that needs closer scrutiny.
Here in South Holland, we have 37 district councillors, which invites the question: how many are required for effective management?
Each councillor demands wages and allowances, each has a designated budget of £5,000 per year, which, as far as I can see, is mostly (but not exclusively) used to buy votes and curry favour with groups and individuals who are likely to share their political sympathies, particularly in the run-up to local elections.
Is this really how these designated budgets are supposed to work? Is this democracy? They don’t seem to comprehend that it’s our money, not theirs.
Sadly, even more undemocratic is the current set up of mainly unelected, co-opted cronies at parish council level.
For instance, when I had the temerity to challenge a doubling of the Pinchbeck parish precept in 2008, I was told, in a most patronising and disrespectful letter by a certain councillor, that the increase was mainly due to a liability for repairs to a church wall. Rubbish.
The church wall is on property belonging to the mega-rich, tax exempt Church of England.
Currently, I estimate that around five per cent of the total raised precept here in Pinchbeck is set aside for such ‘closed churchyard’ maintenance.
In the absence of wholly democratic representation and disregard for public opinion, I believe there needs to be a local referendum before such largesse gets out of hand.
By the way, if you live in Pinchbeck and are concerned, don’t try looking on the parish notice boards for full parish council minutes, because these traditions are seeming to disappear.
I welcome the dawning of a new age now that there is to be less central funding.
Local councillors are, at last, going to be held to greater account with regards to the way they misuse our money.
This is not the politics of envy, it is simply a call for fair play and social justice – something politicians of all parties at all levels talk big on, while doing the opposite.
If they (Tory, Labour and the Lib Dems et al) ever want respect, they might try doing and saying things differently.
It seems to me, even at local level, the politicians are totally out of touch. Happy new year councillors.