Desborough Town Council increase council tax by 400%

By Mick Scrimshaw on March 26, 2016

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You really couldn’t make it up could you? A little bit of historical context; It used to be that all 25 parish and town councils in the Borough of Kettering got a grant from the Borough council. This was scrapped in 2012/13 and at that time cost £80,000 compared to the council’s total revenue spend which would have been something close to £50m at that time. At the time only 10 of parishes/towns charged a precept (an extra charge on top of the council tax), not surprisingly now all 25 do and again, not surprisingly, charge a lot more than back then.

This puts on unfair cost onto people who live in the villages around Kettering who are being asked to pay more for something that we in the town often already get included. During the setting of this year’s budget Labour had suggested the original grant be reinstated (albeit at a lower level to take into account the current public spending climate) in an attempt to reduce to tax burden to their residents recognising some of the services they provide the rest of us already get.

This was rejected by the Conservative administration and effectively means that all the parish and town councils have to fend for themselves. The answer from Conservative controlled Desborough is a totally unjustified massive tax hike (band D went from £19.10 to £96.98, an increase of 407%).

No other council would even be allowed to do this but as Town councils do not have to abide by the same rules as other councils and they were able to push this through without a referendum and without proper consultation with their electorate.

In my opinion it shows a complete disregard for democracy and also shows a spectacular lack of competence and imagination. I have n doubt they want to spend this extra money on worthwhile things (although I don’t know) but simply to raise council taxes in this way without looking at other ways of raising finance is simplistic and crass.

Mick Scrimshaw is the Leader of the Labour Group at Kettering Borough Council, the Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance at Northamptonshire County Council. He has a public record of standing up for Kettering as a County Councillor for the Northall division in Kettering, Northants and since May 2015, a Borough Councillor for the William Knibb ward. He is a keen cyclist and also runs a family business with his wife.

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