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Town council tax bills rise to pay for street lights and toilets

PUBLISHED: 11:08 10 January 2019

Households in Diss will see council tax rises after the town council voted to increase its sahre of the bill. Picture: Archant Library

Households in Diss will see council tax rises after the town council voted to increase its sahre of the bill. Picture: Archant Library

Archant

Households in Diss will have to fork out more for their council tax this year after the town council agreed to increase its share of the bill after taking over responsibility for street lights and public toilets.

Diss Town Council is set to take over the running of the public toilets in the Mere's Mouth. Picture: Marc BettsDiss Town Council is set to take over the running of the public toilets in the Mere's Mouth. Picture: Marc Betts

It was agreed at a full council meeting on Wednesday to raise the council’s precept by 8.83pc, which means an extra £16.45 per year for Band D properties, or £1.65 a month.

The decision, which was passed unanimously by councillors, follows a 13.6pc increase that was imposed on households last year.

The town council precept is about 10pc of the overall council tax bill with the majority made up of charges from Norfolk County Council, South Norfolk Council and the police.

Diss Town Council has agreed to take on 227 street lights from South Norfolk Council. Picture: Antony KellyDiss Town Council has agreed to take on 227 street lights from South Norfolk Council. Picture: Antony Kelly

The meeting heard that the council was increasing its share of the bill to pay for the extra expenses of taking over the responsibility from the district council for street lights and the public toilets at Diss Mere. It is also facing the loss of £10,713 after the ending of a government grant. Of the £16.45 Band D increase, it is estimated £3.96 is due to the loss of the government grant, £1.66 for the Mere toilets, while the cost of taking over street lighting adds £5.35 to bills, balanced by the elimination of a special levy by the district council.

In a statement Diss Town Council said: “From April, Diss Town Council will taking responsibility for the Mere’s Mouth toilets and the 227 of the town’s streets lights which are currently managed by South Norfolk Council and paid via a ‘special expenses levy’ charged to Diss households. This means that 43pc of the £16.45 increase covers the cost of running these additional services and taxpayers will no longer be charged for the same by the district council.

“In addition, due to a change in government policy several years ago to pass the burden of paying council tax benefit from national to local taxpayers, the town council has been receiving a government transitional grant via South Norfolk Council which has reducing year on year. This grant was £10,713 in 2018/19 but has now ceased altogether reducing the town council’s income by that amount.”

Former Diss councillor Mike Bardwell, left, challenged the town council to justify council tax increases at a meeting chaired by Town Mayor Trevor Wenman. Picture: DTCFormer Diss councillor Mike Bardwell, left, challenged the town council to justify council tax increases at a meeting chaired by Town Mayor Trevor Wenman. Picture: DTC

Last year’s 13.6pc increase prompted Mike Bardwell, a two-time mayor of Diss, who had been on the town’s council for a decade, to resign and he again challenged the council to justify this year’s rise at the meeting.

Town Mayor Trevor Wenman said: “These are all things that are additional burdens that are coming down from above and that have to be paid for, but that are not the result of decisions of this council.”

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