Sunday, 18 November 2007

Give residents in West Lindsey a veto to stop council tax rises says Giles McNeill

Council tax hikes should be put to a vote say Conservatives

Local residents across West Lindsey will be given new powers to stop high council tax increases, under proposals announced by Conservatives.

In a new initiative on council tax launched by David Cameron, and welcomed this week by Giles McNeill, Nettleham Parish Councillor, any local authority - including fire and police authorities - that wanted to introduce a high council tax increase would have to receive the support of local people in a referendum. Council tax bills have soared across the country under Labour. In West Lindsey, overall bills have risen by 95% since 1997, from £682 to £1,329 on a Band D home.

Under the proposed plans, the local authority would have to explain to taxpayers why they wanted to raise taxes by so much and they would have to show what they would do – a shadow budget – in the event of their plans being rejected. Tax referendum ballots would be sent out with the annual council tax bill. If people voted against the high rise, the rebate would be credited to them at the end of the year, to avoid the cost of posting out new bills.

In addition to the plans for direct democracy, Conservatives have pledged to:

· Relieve councils of the unfunded burdens, regulations, inspection and red tape that have forced up council tax, through decentralisation and deregulation.

· Give councils more freedom and discretion to fund their own local priorities not Whitehall’s, ending the ring-fencing of local authority budgets.

· Give power back to local people, such as through the abolition of the unelected and unwanted regional assemblies, allowing more local discretion on planning and licensing, and introducing directly elected police commissioners.

· Scrap Labour’s ongoing plans for a council tax revaluation in England, and abolish council tax inspectors’ rights of entry into people’s homes.

Giles McNeill said:
“Council tax has become so unpopular under Labour because of the year on year rises that have been cooked up by Gordon Brown. We need to end Labour’s fiddled funding and burdens which ave forced up councils’ costs. Local councils deserve more freedoms.

“But these new powers need to be backed up with a stronger voice for local people, so they have the final say on whether or not local taxes are going to rise. We need to replace state control with social responsibility and democratic accountability.”

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