Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The true cost of a Lib Dem council

Do Eastleigh Lib Dems really save you money?
The pro-austerity Lib Dems claim in Eastleigh that they save council tax payers money by restricting increases in council tax to rises at or below inflation. But does that really mean residents of Eastleigh Borough Council are better off?

One way Eastleigh Borough Council has saved money in recent years is by transferring services and maintenance of public amenities to compliant parish and town councils. The Borough can take those costs off their books, but what impact has it had on the parish and town council component of council tax?

In West End, the parish council charged a band D property £67.74 in 2007/2008. In 2017/2018 that has risen to £85.26 - an increase of 26%.

In the same period the Botley Parish Council precept rose from £88.19 to £106.42 - an increase of 21%.

Even Lib Dem dominated Hedge End Town Council increased its charge by 7% in the last ten years.

Secondly, there have been  massive increases in other charges and fees under the Lib Dems.

In 2007 you could park all day at Itchen Valley Country Park for  £1.50. In 2017 the Lib Dems charge you £4.00 - an increase of 167%. If you just want to park for an hour to walk your dog, the parking charge has gone up 120% from 50p to £1.10. Even a year's season ticket for parking has gone up 79% to £42.50.

Parking charges at Hedge End Railway Station were introduced in 2007 at £2.00. In ten years Lib Dems have increased all day parking at the station to £3.50 - up 75%.

The charge for collection of bulky waste items such as mattresses and furniture started at £26 in 2007. In 2017 you have to pay at least £54 - an increase of  108%.

In the same period the minimum charge for garden waste collection rose from £19 to £36 - up 90%.

Pest control charges have gone up by 23% for wasps, 90% for rats and 140% for mice.

A third consequence of Lib Dem policy is continued dependence on so-called section 106 agreements with developers to increase their funds. These agreements are described as follows:
"Planning obligations, also known as Section 106 agreements (based on that section of The 1990 Town & Country Planning Act) are private agreements made between local authorities and developers and can be attached to a planning permission to make acceptable development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms."

By agreeing to allow developments that "would otherwise be unacceptable", the Lib Dems have raised funds in recent months for infrastructure and other projects in our local area:
£10,000 from various developers to pay for a footpath in Moorgreen Road, West End
£10,000 from various developers for a pedestrian / cycle way in Barbe Baker Avenue, West End
£10,000 from Barratts for improvements to tennis courts in West End
£55,000 from Bovis Homes to design a new roof for the Wildern swimming pool in Hedge End
£105,000 from Linden Homes for new children's playgrounds in West End.

This hardly seems a sustainable policy as the council tax freeze is partly paid for by endless housing development.

(Sources: www.planningportal.co.uk, www.eastleigh.gov.uk, Eastleigh Borough Council budget books for 2007/2008 and 2017/2018, Eastleigh Borough Council "corporate fees and charges" reports for 2007/2008 and 2017/2018,  minutes of HEWEB LAC meetings for March 2016, September 2016 and May 2017.)

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