Harrow’s Labour-run administration, like 147 other councils across the country, has chosen to increase council tax by 4.99% – the maximum it can get away with without having to hold a referendum, a vote of confidence in the administration, if you like, on the increase.
This doesn’t necessarily mean residents will see an increase limited to that though: Some people will pay more as the 4.99% cap only has to be the “average” rise across the area. So for Swindon Borough Council, for example, householders in some council tax bands will see a 3.12% rise, whilst others will see a 7.28% rise – with the average staying within the rules (source: BBC).
The increase is going to hit some people hard, despite the council saying it will allocate more than £10 million in new spending for the most essential services that residents rely on. If then goes on to define those services as including additional litter bins.
Nowhere, though, does it look to it’s own administrative spending: the costly Chief Executive, the countless £100,000+ payoffs to senior officers, the (well-paid) seats on cabinet to placate errant group members.
Just about the only idea that the council has got right, other than entirely unenforced speed limits around schools, and banning smoking in kids playgrounds, is the £10 deal to collect old mattresses, in – too little, too late – efforts to combat fly tipping.
Frankly, the council should be looking at the other councils which didn’t raise council tax, and figure out a way to emulate them.
Finally, we’re not sure what this line in the PR spin is supposed to mean: “…and a lasting food, arts and culture offer to help boost Harrow’s night-time economy. ” Anybody who’s been in the town centre at night will have found themselves avoiding groups of drunk youths either urinating in corners or vomiting in the streets, whilst surrounded by takeaways that rank amongst the worst in the UK for food hygiene standards. Arts and culture? Wasn’t that to be practically given away to Cultura, a deal which ended in tears when the story got out?