Posts Tagged ‘council tax’

Town Councillors forced to abandon review of precept decision

Posted on Tuesday 5th February 2013 at 10:17 am by SH (Editor)

Bradley Stoke Town Council.

A special meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council scheduled for this Wednesday (6th February) has been cancelled at short notice.

The meeting, which had been called by Town Mayor, Cllr Charlotte Walker, at the request of six Councillors, was to discuss a possible increase in the Town’s precept (the Town Council’s component of the Council Tax).

However, the Council has announced today that advice received from the National Association of Local Councils’ solicitor suggests that any decision to increase the precept, which Councillors had initially voted last month to freeze, would be illegal.

Confirming the cancellation, Cllr Walker said:

“Following legal clarification from the Town Clerk, acting in her capacity as council’s proper officer, we have taken the decision to stand down Wednesday’s special meeting of Full Council. In light of the advice received proceeding with the meeting would not be in the best interest of our residents.”

The original decision was taken at the Full Council meeting on 16th January, despite the Town Council’s Financial Officer recommending that a 3% increase be introduced for 2013/14.

The six Councillors who had called for a review of the decision to freeze the precept were: Cllrs Brian Hopkinson, Sarah Pomfret, Ben Walker, Paul Hardwick, Elaine Hardwick and Keith Cranney.

The special resolution that was to be debated at this Wednesday’s special meeting read:

“[We] wish to immediately revisit the decision made by BSTC on 16th January 2013 in relation to the Budget and Forward Plan, whereby we believe a zero increase in Precept would not deliver sufficient safeguard against the uncertain future of grant funding from South Gloucestershire Council.”

The Journal understands that, as the Town Council has already notified South Gloucestershire Council of its desired precept level for 2013/14, it is only possible to reduce it from that previously advised level.

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Town Councillors have second thoughts on tax freeze

Posted on Monday 28th January 2013 at 10:40 am by SH (Editor)

Bradley Stoke Town Council.

Bradley Stoke Town Council could still increase its precept (share of the Council Tax) for 2013/14 after six Councillors called an emergency meeting to reconsider a decision, made only two weeks ago, to freeze it.

A Council press release put out on 17th January boasted of the precept being frozen “for a historic fourth year in a row” following a decision made at a Full Council meeting the night before but it seems that some Councillors have now had second thoughts.

Under its standing orders (constitution), the Council is not normally permitted to reverse a decision within six months of it being made, but the six Councillors have invoked a special clause that allows a review to take place if at least four Councillors support it.

The six that have called for a review are: Cllrs Brian Hopkinson, Sarah Pomfret, Ben Walker, Paul Hardwick, Elaine Hardwick and Keith Cranney.

The development is an embarrassing rebuff for former Mayor Cllr Robert Jones, who had argued strongly for a freeze at the Full Council meeting and was quoted in the press release as saying:

“Our residents are seeing their incomes eroded by inflation, increasing the precept now will only add to the squeeze.”

The special resolution to be debated at the emergency meeting on 6th February states:

“[We] wish to immediately revisit the decision made by BSTC on 16th January 2013 in relation to the Budget and Forward Plan, whereby we believe a zero increase in Precept would not deliver sufficient safeguard against the uncertain future of grant funding from South Gloucestershire Council.”

The decision to freeze the precept was taken despite the Town Council’s Financial Officer recommending that a 3% increase be introduced for 2013/14.

The Town Council’s finances have come under pressure because of a reduction in the theoretical number of properties used in the formula for calculating the precept. The change has come about as a consequence of the Government’s decision to hand responsibility for Council Tax Benefit to local authorities, while at the same time reducing support to 90% of the previous level. The loss of revenue to the Town Council will amount to £75,137 for 2013/14.

More: Town Council strips £8,400 from youth provision budget »

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Town Council freezes its share of Council Tax

Posted on Monday 23rd January 2012 at 10:12 am by SH (Editor)

Bradley Stoke Town CouncilBradley Stoke Town Council has voted to freeze the precept charge on residents’ council tax bills for the second successive year. The decision, agreed at last Wednesday’s Full Council meeting, sees the charge on a Band D property remain at £113.50 for 2012/13.

Commenting on the freeze, Cllr Roger Avenin (Con, Baileys Court), Chair of the Finance Committee, said:

“We continue to find ourselves in uncertain economic times and many residents’ household budgets are under pressure. As a Council we’re here to support the community and it simply wouldn’t be right to ask hard working families to pay any more this year.”

Councillors are also keen to point out that services aren’t under threat with Town Mayor Cllr Ben Walker commenting:

“We’re not making cuts, we’re still providing for the community; we’re just focusing very hard on doing everything we can as efficiently as possible. Our youth budget for example has been maintained but it has been opened up to a wider variety of organisations than ever before, so we can support a diverse range of activities for young people of all ages.”

The Town Council precept typically represents less than 10% of the total Council Tax bill. The largest proportion, around 80%, is taken by South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), with the police and fire services making up the remainder.

More: Government offers SGC a sweetener to freeze Council Tax »

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Tories trumpet Council Tax freeze

Posted on Friday 11th March 2011 at 6:50 am by SH (Editor)

South Gloucestershire Council

Ratepayers in Bradley Stoke will see no increase in the amount of Council Tax they pay in 2011/2012 following decisions by all four charging bodies to freeze their respective tax demands at 2010/2011 levels.

South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), Avon and Somerset Police and Avon Fire & Rescue have all decided to set zero percent increases, thereby securing ‘Council Tax Freeze Grants’ from central government, worth £2.8m (equivalent to a 1.6% tax rise) to SGC alone.

Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC), which is not eligible for the government sweetener, has also declared an unchanged precept – leading to a unaltered total bill of £1,580 for the ‘average’ band D property in the town.

Opposition groups supported Conservative-led SGC’s tax freeze but were critical of the lack of detail on proposed cuts and the need to dip into the authority’s reserves.

In setting a budget of £196 million council, SGC says it will implement a set of initiatives to help it run more efficiently, which it hopes will save taxpayers just over £9 million during 2011/12.

The projected savings include £6.6 million through simplifying its ‘back office’ function (rising to around £10 million per year eventually); £1.2 million through reducing the number of senior managers working at the Council (rising to around £2 million eventually) and £1.4 million by procuring goods and services more efficiently (rising to between £7 million and £9 million eventually).

The efficiency savings will see more than 300 Council jobs axed over the next two years.

In addition to the projected savings, the Council will need to take £2.3 million from its reserves in order to balance the books.

The Town Council’s 2011/2012 budget also foresees a shortfall – of nearly £19k (equivalent to a 2.3% precept rise) but Councillors voted unanimously to set a zero percent precept rise and fund the defecit from reserves.

Read on to find out what local politicians had to say »

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