Poll: Mayors of Cromer and North Walsham defend large hike in towns’ share of council tax. What do you think?

Cromer mayor David Pritchard. Cromer mayor David Pritchard.

Alex Hurrell alex.hurrell@archant.com
Thursday, February 13, 2014
7:30 AM

Residents in Cromer and North Walsham are facing a steep hike in the town part of their council tax bills.

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Jacqueline Belson mayor of North WalshamJacqueline Belson mayor of North Walsham

Cromer Town Council has increased its precept by 31pc and North Walsham by almost 27pc.

The rises mean that from April an average Band D council tax payer in Cromer will pay an extra £17.97 towards the town council’s part of their bill, while North Walsham householders will have to find £9.69 more.

The towns’ mayors have defended the rises, listing important local projects which need funding, but the increases have been condemned by low-tax pressure group The Taxpayers’ Alliance.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) is freezing its share of the council tax for the third year running.

David Pritchard, mayor of Cromer, said the main reason for their increase was that they were negotiating with NNDC over taking on responsibility for North Lodge Park and had set aside £13,000 in case it was agreed.

“At the time of our precept submission to NNDC, we had not been made aware of the £150,000 ‘dowry’ that NNDC offered with North Lodge Park but it still has to be remembered that the dowry is to cover a projected five year period,” he added.

Any increase in Cromer’s precept during the current economic difficulties was unfortunate and had not been taken lightly.

North Walsham mayor Jacqueline Belson, said their increase would have been even greater if they had not accepted a grant from NNDC, on offer to parish and town councils.

“The increases made by North Walsham Town Council were to meet highway and town centre improvements and the possible continuation of CCTV,” she added.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Council tax hikes add to the burden on families struggling with rising prices and stagnant wages.

“All local authorities, parish councils included, should freeze or even cut council tax rather than looking to empty people’s wallets further.

“Just because parish councils have smaller budgets than other areas of local government does not mean they should not face the same scrutiny when seeking to increase the tax burden on local residents”

Cromer accepted NNDC’s grant in 2013-2014 but has declined it for the coming financial year. The grant was introduced by government last year to counteract a loss of council tax revenue caused by complex changes to benefit rules.

But some parish councils fear it could be withdrawn next year, coupled with a possible cap on the percentage increase they can impose. They have therefore declined the grant as, if the “double whammy” came into effect, it would probably mean having to hold a referendum to agree an increase just to maintain services at current levels.

Council tax bills will drop through north Norfolk householders’ letterboxes in the first two weeks of March.

20 comments

  • Hugh, I don't dispute there's spending on other projects, every council does it, but the article cites this grant too. The fact is money is being given to councils to spend - which sounds attractive and is difficult to turn down - but when the money stops or decreases leaves a gaping hole in the funding. As a result precepts have to be increased to fund it going forward. The government, along with local authorities like NNDC, are leaving parish councils to pick up the flack.

    Report this comment

    Jono

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Cut some of the council projects to stop an increase in the tax bills.

    Report this comment

    G3MWV

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • This was always going to happen. It's politics. The district council cuts serves like CCTV, and increases charges like road numbering, and it's for the parish councils to pick up the bills. Remember that when the Conservatives knock on your door saying they've froze council tax, your council picked up the bill.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Callum, I pass by the community centre every day of the week, and sadly I see very few people using it, it will be a burden around the tax payers neck for many years to come. Jono, Town councils must stop taking on new projects, as we can see from the article new projects account for most, if not all of the tax hike. I think the funding gap would be there anyway, with or without the grant, town halls need to cut costs and for the record, I dont argee with the government's council tax benefit transitional grant.

    Report this comment

    Hugh

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • I would much rather pay a bit more and keep nice assets within my town of Cromer. After all, it's a really small amount, when it's spread out over the year. I am not sure people realise that the District Council are payed by central government NOT to increase their council tax. They lose this funding, if they increase the tax. They don't keep it at the same level to be kind!

    Report this comment

    CoastalCrab

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • There is so much nonsense spoken about this "grant", and I am amazed that a goodly proportion has come from councillors! The logic applied to precept level and acceptance or otherwise of the grant do not have to be linked! The grant is offerred by NNDC with the intention that parishes and towns accept it. I find it amazing that a number have declined it. Cromer, and previously Holt and Sheringham, have let their residents down by doing so. Residents of these three towns might be interested to note that the muddled thinking of their councillors has led to more than £80,000 being declined over the last two years. The only conclusion one can come to is that the facts were not presented accurately and correctly at the time. How else can one explain that of 121 towns and parishes in the district, less than 25 have declined it?

    Report this comment

    MikeK

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

  • Perhaps you can ask Sheringham why they have increased there's by 24.5%

    Report this comment

    Callum Ringer

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Hi Hugh, its 24.5% increase according to my council tax bill! I can understand an increase, to be honest, because the town is taking services like CCTV from the district, but I'd like them to explain the size of the hike

    Report this comment

    Callum Ringer

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Cuts services

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Funny how the Taxpayers Alliance never come out and criticise Tory ministers like Eric Pickles' million pound tea and coffee bill. They're happy to criticise funding community projects though.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Callum, are you sure sheringham have increased there's by 24.5%? I been told it was going up by 11.4% to cover the cost of CCTV and the new Community Centre! still a steep hike when you consider the inflation rate is only 2.5%.

    Report this comment

    Hugh

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Hugh, the community centre is hardly 'little used' but it certainly isn't a responsible or efficient use of money to keep Town Hall and the community centre. Should run the TC from their instead

    Report this comment

    Callum Ringer

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • 'Politicians defend grabbing more cash shock!' How come we get Shrek and NW get hottie?

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

  • Jeffrey Osborne - the TPA are always criticising this government you pillock. I take it you're one of the scroungers who gets their council tax paid for them?

    Report this comment

    jeffbridges769

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • And Jono, I am afraid you are misinformed.The grant is in no way a trap - it is offerred on the basis that the money can be used within the specific community to which it applies. There is no reason not to accept it - you can still put your precept up if you wish to stave off the threat of future capping. The decisions taken by these three major towns were ill-informed.

    Report this comment

    MikeK

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

  • Clearly councils are being caught out by the government's council tax benefit transitional grant, which have been designed to be traps because it will push the precept up when funding is removed. I believe Holt avoided taking it because there was this threat further down the line that bills would rocket just as these councils have seen.

    Report this comment

    Jono

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Clearly councils are being caught out by the government's council tax benefit transitional grant, which have been designed to be traps. I believe Holt avoided taking it because there was the threat further down the line bills would rocket just as these councils have seen.

    Report this comment

    Jono

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Jono, The main reason for the hike in tax is that town councils keep taking on new "community projects" like North Lodge Park in Cromer, the mortgage on Sheringham Community Centre, and CCTV in Sheringham and North Walsham. so stop trying to blame the government. The people responsible for this Tax hike are those we elected to our local town halls.

    Report this comment

    Hugh

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • told you all we would have to pay dearly for north lodge park no matter how they disguise it

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    i am mostly wrong??

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

  • Callum, The little used Community Centre will be given as the reason for the hike, as the town council now has to paid the mortgage on it. I think we can all thank Tesco for that!!!

    Report this comment

    Hugh

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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