Staggered by council tax plan

Rye and Battle Observer letters
Rye and Battle Observer letters

On my return from a spell away, I have been catching up on local news and was staggered to read that Battle Town Council have decided to increase its share of our council tax by 33 per cent.

The state reasons for this are beyond belief. Why are its reserves depleted? What urgent/unforeseen need has arisen that could not have been deferred and included in a future year’s budget?

As has been suggested by an earlier correspondent, TICs are a thing of the past with the mass of internet options you can get all the information you want without leaving your arm chair. That, and the many leaflet racks around the town, there is a wealth of information.

The chamber has, in the past, done sterling work on Christmas lights. It is time to move on - instead of a few strings of pathetic small bulbs strung across the High Street, why don’t we ask premises on the High Street to decorate as they wish and then have the large donated Christmas tree on Abbey Green festooned with twinkling coloured lights. This would cost tax payers a fraction of the absurd £10,000 figure suggested by our town councillors.

Who came up with the crazy idea we needed a café at the Recreation Ground? I have lived in the town over 30 years and from 2000, spent several years as a town councillor.

On joining, I became aware that the then council was losing in excess of £4,000 a year in running a café in the Almonry.

I proposed we should invite interested parties to take over the responsibility on a rental basis.

The losses were saved and the council collected a healthy rent.

We do no want to get into that situation again. Indeed, I would suggest such a venture would never cover its costs.

We have a wonderful selection of coffee shops and restaurants in the town already, let them get on with providing what they are good at.

For many years, after leaving the council, I was asked with my experience of Central Government Purchasing to undertake a monthly Lay Audit of the council’s financial activities.

I continued in this role until July 2015, when I was advised by the town clerk that the council had decided this was no longer required.

Maybe the role should be reinstated.

It is now too late to stop the collection of the increased tax but when it is received, I would suggest the additional funds go straight in to the council’s reserves, with next year’s tax reverting to the 2015/16 level.

A strong turnout at the Parish Assembly on April 11 to reinforce this point will indicate residents’ feelings.

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