2:38pm Friday 3rd May 2013
Sir – Residents of Sowerby may be surprised to be told their council tax is being increased by 2.3 per cent this year, more particularly since, at its November meeting, the parish council agreed to leave the parish precept(the amount of money it needs to provide local services) at exactly the same level as the last two years.
The reason is very simple.In December, after the precept had been set, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, altered the rules in such a way that residents would have to make a larger council tax contribution per household in order to raise the same level of precept.
This increase was only partially offset by a one-off grant to the parish council amounting to £4,411. Next year the full increase will apply unless the precept is cut.
Unfortunately, neither of Sowerby’s two district councillors, Mark Robson and Peter Bardon, informed their fellow parish councillors of this change in the rules and, when the official letter was received informing parish and town councils of the effect of the changes on the level of council tax in their area, neither was this letter shared with the other parish councillors.
The majority of the parish council, having been kept in the dark, were thereby denied the possibility of revisiting the November decision on the amount of precept in order, potentially, to keep the level of council tax lower than it now is.
Even if it had not proved possible to alter the decision, as a matter of principle all councillors should have been kept fully informed of such important changes affecting the parish council’s finances. The council is collectively accountable to the electors of Sowerby and as such should be in a position at all times to justify the decisions it takes.
It cannot do this if it is denied the necessary information.
Coun STEVE HOYLAND South Terrace, Sowerby.
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