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Spend this council tax - or don't bother collecting it

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: March 28, 2014

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LAST week’s Newsletter report headlined “Get off your backsides, Doxey councillor tells residents” accurately reflected the unfortunate remarks made by the chairman and vice chairman at the last meeting of Doxey Parish Council

It did not, however, explain how these remarks arose and why the parish council is now urging people to apply for grants to support good causes in Doxey.

I joined the parish council nearly three years ago. Like four other members of the parish council since it was formed in 2005, no-one ever voted for me. We were elected unopposed. Another four were co-opted after 2011.

Soon after I became a member, I was horrified to learn that the council had over £37,869 of unspent tax revenues in the bank. Its annual budget has never exceeded £10,000.

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Last year these reserves had risen to £49,801. Our auditors have repeatedly asked why our reserves are so high.

By March 31, these reserves will exceed £51,000.

Since the total the council has charged its taxpayers since 2005 stands at £67,978, only a quarter of the money Doxey people have paid to the parish council has been spent on providing them with services.

In January, 2012, the first time we considered the budget since I became a member, I moved that the precept (the amount we ask the borough council to raise in council tax on our behalf) be reduced to £7,500 – still ample for our needs. This slashed our share of the Band D council tax from £11.30 to £9.59, more than 15 per cent.

This year, I wanted to peg the precept at £7,500, giving taxpayers a modest tax cut of 88 pence, since there are more houses being built in the parish and so more taxpayers to share the burden. The clerk advised against this and only Councillor Isabella Davies, who is also one of our borough councillors, supported me.

I pointed out on March 13 that the reserves amounted to three-quarters of all the money our taxpayers had paid to the parish council over nine years.

It was then that David Adams and David Hughes complained of “apathy” on the part of our taxpayers.

It makes sense for the parish council to have some money set aside in the bank, but £51,000 is far more than we need.

I believe taxpayers should keep as much of their own money as possible and the parish council should levy only as much tax as it needs to provide useful services.

Taxpayers and electors should not have to think up ways for the parish council to spend their money in order to justify the council taking it off them in the first place.

Neil Thomas

Stafford

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