Town council prepares to increase its share of tax bills by 70pc

Dereham town councillor Tim Birt Dereham town councillor Tim Birt

Monday, December 31, 2012
11:17 AM

Dereham Town Council is preparing to increase its part of people’s overall council tax bills by 70pc in an effort to avoid possible government limits on future tax hikes.

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The council currently charges band D properties £77 a year, and the proposed increase in precept would add about £1 a week to bills.

Tim Birt, chairman of its finance and governance committee, said the budget had to rise to cover risks that could increase the council’s costs in future years.

These included the possible loss of a £63,000 government grant to fund council tax support, the maintenance of council-owned buildings and taking over some services, such as children’s play areas, that are run at present by Breckland Council.

Mr Birt said the town council had been planning a series of smaller tax rises over a number of years. However, he feared the government could force town councils to hold referenda to approve tax rises above a sum set by ministers, and these would cost the town council £17,000 to run.

He said this meant 2013-14 could be the last chance for the council to raise funds to cover extra future spending.

Mr Birt added: “The bottom line is the precept for Dereham is going to go up by about £1 a week. That makes sure we have covered all the risks we are looking at over the longer period.

“If it turns out we have been pessimistic we can bring it down again.

“What we are doing is taking a lot of responsibilities from Breckland but, instead of paying your money to Breckland, you are paying this money over to Dereham. It’s money that will be collected in Dereham and spent in Dereham: we won’t be buying a bus interchange in Thetford.

“Basically, what we are trying to do is front-load this. I’m not saying [the tax rise] is going to be zero [in the future], but the intention is that it’s around about zero because we have put it up-front; but we can’t guarantee that because there are still uncertainties.”

He said town councillors had looked at cutting services to manage future budget risks but had ruled that out.

“It would have absolutely decimated everything. There would be no play areas at all; there would be no community car scheme; there would be no toilets. It would be complete decimation to do this by cuts,” he added.

“Even if you cut it to the absolute legal minimum we need to do, we might still have to put council tax up.”

6 comments

  • Saving the Town councils bacon before the other slicers take another chomp. Unless there is a reciprocated reduction in the DC or NCC precepts, this 70% would bring the local tax up from £77,- to £129,- this continuous self preservation, hand in the till, by councils refusing to reform local Government structure or charge council tax on empty homes, cut down those services they already outsourced and even reduce the number of cllr.s they elect, we the voter will have to take our own action. We are being asked to pay more for their pensions and remunerations and perks, for services that are diminishing at all times. Wages have not gone up, energy prices are going up and inflation is rising, so how long do our authorities think we will play, and pay for, their games?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • Surely Dereham residents cannot afford not to support this far sighted,well thought through plan to keep Dereham's sense of civic pride..For the majority on Band A and B,Dereham's public services can be retained for a few extra pence a week.It is the only realistic choice the council can face but also it begs the question.Breckland Council.who needs it?Apart from collecting the council tax,which the likes of Capita,Serco and the rest are frothing at the mouth to run,what else justifies Breckland's existence?

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    Peter Watson

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • The question has to be asked. How many services has this council taken on from the district and county council? Quite a lot it seems. The reason for this dreadful rise is that the district councils are taking advantage of the Government capping offers and the only way to do this is to offload some of the services. We have been in long correspondence with the Department for Communities who have said that they will be looking at these town and parish councils and expect the rises for these councils to be 'de minimus', pennies rather than pounds. Until the Government caps all the councils, the council tax will continue to rise through the back door. The Government MUST cap these councils before their precepts overtake those of the districts. This has already happened in some areas and it is not acceptable.

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    Christine Melsom

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • Breckland DC will be the next slicer Peter, then the county council, with more energy cost increases to follow next year and inflation a real probability, Dereham's sense of civic pride might come somewhat later.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • So the portion we pay to Breckland Council will go down by 70%? No! Seriously!

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    Catty

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • Time for the good people of Dereham to protest at the town hall and at Birts home until this pathetic excuse for raising tax is reversed. How many overpaid jobsworths have you let go of then Birt ?. P.S. It will never come down like you think Birt.

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    "V"

    Monday, December 31, 2012

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

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