Council Tax 2015/16

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Most of you will have just received your Council Tax bill from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC). Not very exciting, I know, but worth a comment or two.

First, the Parish Council precept has increased by 1.2% to £32.27 for a Band D property. The only reason it has increased at all is because of decisions made by CWaC. For the first time, IF there is a Parish Council election in May, the Parish Council will be charged by CWaC for the cost of the election (previously the cost of Parish Council elections was met by CWaC). On the face of it this seems fair. In practice it is very rare for there to be a Parish Council election in Tarvin — but still, knowing that it WOULD be charged if there was an election, and since it has to agree its budget and tell CWaC the precept before the date for nominations, the Parish Council has had to budget for the cost, which is £2,335. Of course, if there is no election then the £2,335 can be spent on something else, or used to reduce the 2016/17 budget.

Of course the main part of the Council Tax bill is for services provided by CWaC. For the second year running, CWaC is not increasing its share of the Council Tax. However, as we all know, inflation is greater than 0%, which means that CWaC will have less money to spend in real terms next year. Is this really good news for us in Tarvin? Our Council Tax may not be going up, but what about the services that it pays for?
In terms of its priorities, CWaC has to make sure that its budget for "looked after" children is protected — it simply cannot risk ruining its reputation with a Baby P-type tragedy. Then the urban areas, which have more people, more problems and so greater demands for expenditure, are likely to be cut less severely.
As a result, CWaC's decision not to raise Council Tax could have a significant impact on the services provided in the rural areas, like Tarvin. We are likely to have to wait longer for pot-holes to be fixed, gutters to be weeded, litter to be picked from the main roads and paths to be cleared.

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