Residents in a village have seen their parish council tax bills soar this year by more than 230 per cent.
Northiam Parish Council (NPC) increased the parish precept for 2017-2018 as it wants funds to kick-start a plan to buy land occupied by the former Blue Cross animal shelter to protect it from developers.
John Taylor, past NPC vice-chairman, said Band D rates have gone up from £1,698.01 to £1,879.95 as a result of the hike in the village council tax precept.
He said: “Northiam’s residents fear if the NPC’s plan is successful they could be liable for ever higher charges in the future. Many residents complain they have never been fully and properly consulted about NPC’s plans, and a referendum about it that was held earlier this year was not available to all households.”
The issue was discussed at the Annual Parish Meeting on Tuesday (April 11).
Following the meeting, in his report, published on the Northiam Village website, council chairman Peter Sargent said: “We were approached by a very large number of residents concerned the site would be bought by developers and that in due course would become another housing estate. It was suggested the village might attempt to bid for the site if suitable funding could be found.
“In November we distributed a flyer to most of the houses in the village asking if residents supported the proposal and asking for suggested uses for the site. From the 900 leaflets sent out we received 150 replies, of which the majority were supportive.
“The finance committee then investigated the possibility of a Government-backed loan. They found we could borrow £2m on a fixed rate over 50 years for an annual repayment of about £100,000, which equates to just over £100 per year for a band D household.
“This was proposed to full council in January and supported unanimously subject to further consultation.
“We therefore delivered a second survey in February, attempting to ensure we delivered to every household.
“In this we clearly stated our proposal to increase the precept to allow us to apply for the loan and asked whether residents supported this. We had a response rate of 42 per cent with a narrow margin in favour and so we asked Rother to increase our precept for this year, which it has done.
“If our loan application is refused or if our bid for the site is unsuccessful then the funding for the loan will be reimbursed.”
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