Council tax bills set to rise next year as everyone passes the buck on who funds services

We don’t yet know how much council tax will rise next year. That will be decided in February but we have some early clues. Shropshire Council’s financial plan assumes a rise of 3.99%, though it may be tempted to take advantage of a government offer made just before Christmas to add an extra 1% to the bill.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is proposing an increase of 4%, though the government has since said he would be allowed to raise half as much again. The Fire Service and Ludlow Town Council have yet to declare their plans.

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Shropshire Council rejects plea to explore views on a council tax referendum

At the Shropshire Council meeting yesterday, councillors debated a motion that would have required Shropshire Council’s officers to research the willingness of people in Shropshire for a referendum on a council tax rise above 1.99%. The motion was put forward by myself and seconded by follow Lib Dem Hannah Fraser, who represents Abbey ward in Shrewsbury.

The motion arose from calls from town and parish councils for Shropshire Council to raise council tax to avoid huge rises in parish precepts. Ludlow Town Council’s mayor has been vocal in calling for a rise in council tax to prevent the burden for services that serve a wide area falling on Ludlow ratepayers alone.

Regrettably, the motion was all but lost.

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Proposals to transfer services from Shirehall to Ludlow pose the “Ludford Question” on council tax – it’s a toughie

Ludlow Town Council is considering a request from Shropshire Council to take on a broad range of services. These could cost an extra £1 million a year and hike the precept in the town from around £100 a year to more than £300.[1] The alternative could be closure of the library, leisure centre, visitor information centre and other services. This will discussed on at the full council meeting on Wednesday night. This could well be the most important meeting the town council has held for many years.

The transfer of services raises what I call the “Ludford Question” – should the cost of the devolved services be imposed on Ludlow council taxpayers alone or spread more widely?

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Shropshire Council makes shameful decision on town and parish council grant (updated)

This article has been corrected to reflect the comments of David Turner below.

The decision was perhaps inevitable but that makes it no less shameful.

On Thursday morning, Shropshire Councillors voted by 43 votes to 23 to keep back more than half a million pounds of government money that was due to town and parish councils around the county.

The votes was on party lines with Labour and the independents voting for a Lib Dem amendment to dip into Shropshire Council’s reserves to ensure that local councils would get the money promised them by central government. All the Conservatives voted against the amendment. In doing so, they supported Shropshire Council retaining money that does not rightfully belong to it (how councillors voted). Continue reading “Shropshire Council makes shameful decision on town and parish council grant (updated)”