Eileen Wragg www.exmouthjournal.co.uk
Some criticism was expressed by one of this paper’s readers in the letters page on April 7 regarding the Consumer Price Index, and comparing it with the rise in Council Tax.
In his letter he suggested that ‘we consider the wholesale disposal of the present incumbents and maybe a few incompetent managers as well’, stating that the increase is because of ‘extras’.
For his enlightenment, and for others who also may be unaware, the Government has now stopped the Revenue Support Grant which was paid annually to councils to help them pay for necessary services which are provided to residents, such as waste collections and recycling, street cleaning, to help maintain and hopefully even improve these services.
For the past year in particular, there have been extra pressures for Councils to contend with, for instance more frequent sanitisation of public toilets, and loss of income to the sports and leisure centres.
So those are the ‘extras’. One of the biggest sources of income for District Councils is revenue from car parks in their ownership, which have also suffered severe income loss due to the pandemic, yet the correspondent seemed to be advocating free parking, which he said is the case in France. (I would add that in France, two lots of Council Tax are paid, plus a charge for waste collections.)
EDDC has recently had to come to the rescue of sports centres and swimming pools to the sum of £1.3m, so that they can continue to operate. councillors and officers have to find new ways of raising funds to keep up the standards which the public expect, in challenging economic times.
My colleagues and I are proud of what has been achieved since the end of May last year. We have taken control over the Queen’s Drive, listened to what our residents and visitors said and have made the temporary car park into a grassed, leisure area.
Waste collections and recycling rates have increased, and we are now the tenth best Council in the country for recycling, which saves huge sums in landfill taxes, as well as harm to the environment, by preventing waste going into landfill.
In a few weeks, we were delivering a town centre for Cranbrook, which had been promised for many years by previous administrations. We also pulled out of the Greater Exeter Strategic Partnership, which would have imposed mass residential development on East Devon.
I could go on, but if others, especially the critics, have innovative suggestions for keeping the Council Tax down, we would love to hear from you.
Better still, how about standing for election? If elected, you would have a much better understanding of the issues, and it would be an education from which you would surely benefit, whilst also, hopefully, benefiting your community.