There is much controversy in Cranbrook, where householders are hit with a double whammy: “estate rent charges” AND council tax.
In an effort to clear up confusion, the town council offered an explanation for the difference between the two:
“The estate rent charge covers the maintenance of communal areas in Cranbrook before those are transferred from private into public ownership, including the management of the Country Park, road maintenance, litter picking, bin emptying, maintenance of play parks and street lighting.”
Now Owl, being a cynic thinks: Why would developers want to transfer the management of the country park, road maintenance, litter picking, bin emptying, maintenance of play parks and street lighting to the town, district or county councils when they can get the money them from residents AND charge administration fees and overheads on these same costs? An extra 25%-40% is a ball-park figure for such extra costs, which do not have to be explained.
As an example, should roads be handed over to DCC and developers wreck them with plant and machinery movements, digging trenches, etc the DEVELOPERS would have to pay those costs.
More worryingly, why would they want to transfer the country park management to the district council when, if they hold on to it long enough, they might gain legal ownership of it and get permission to build on it (flood plains can be raised …). Owl is no lawyer, but bets developers know their rights down to the last crossed t and the last dotted i.
Also, the county, district and town councils will likely drag their heels as, once taken into public ownership, costs will necessarily have to be passed on to council taxes. Both sides therefore benefit from the status quo, the only losers being residents.
Owl recalls that police could not stop boy racers in Cranbrook because roads had not been adopted by Devon County Council so were private land. Is this still the case?
With all these worries, no wonder town councillors are dropping out at an alarming rate.