Today I completed Broxtowe Borough Council's online questionnaire about saving money. I am opposed to cuts which will hit those least able to bear them, be it financially or socially. For 'savings' read 'cuts'. I should add that I am in favour of all public services being managed efficiently and to the best advantage of users, but 'savings' is a different beast. My approach is to provide better services and facilities by managing what money there is better, even increasing council tax and council charges if this can be shown to be beneficial to users and the local community in general.
Before completing the questionnaire, I did, on 7 October, via email, ask Broxtowe Borough Council to tell me the product of a penny rate. I have yet to receive a reply, but I did copy in Borough Councillor Janet Patrick, who emailed me a reply on 10 October:
If Broxtowe raised its council tax by 1p in the £ it would raise £53000. Presently the Government anticipate an annual increase of 2p in the £ and are paying this to councils who are charging 2p in the £ increase a year. The Tories promised not to raise the council tax, consequently we are forgoing £106,000 a year from the government. Information supplied by Paul Adcock, most senior finance officer after the Deputy Chief Executive.
Given this information, I have answered the question about council tax by saying I favour at least a 2p increase in the Borough Council's penny rate and included Janet's email to show why.
I also added this general comment where the questionnaire asks for comments:
Broxtowe Council needs to introduce tighter controls on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)* and Council Tax exempt properties, as these are increasing fast in an around Beeston, with some streets now over 25%. Above this level the balance of the social mix begins to tip and some groups begin to move out (eg. families, older people), resulting in more properties becoming HMOs* and Council Tax exempt. The evidence for how such change negatively impacts on housing occupation can be found in the Dunkirk & Lenton and Wollaton East & Lenton Abbey wards in Nottingham, which adjoin Beeston. Belated planning controls in Nottingham have pushed private landlords into Beeston. Housing and Planning officers, together with borough councillors, knowingly ignore the problem at a social and economic cost. One direct consequence will be Beeston town centre becoming no more than a collection of eateries, cafes, take aways, estate agents and charity shops surrounded by supermarkets.
Note:* Any property with 3 or more unrelated residents should be classified as a HMO.