Potton councillor claims Council Tax consultation is 'misleading'

The questions 'appear heavily loaded towards encouraging residents to agree to a rise'

By News Reporter
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 2:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 2:36 pm

A Potton councillor has claimed that Central Bedfordshire Council's consultation about Council Tax is "misleading".

Independent Central Beds Councillor Councillor Adam Zerny claims that the questions have come "under fire for misleading the public", and that they "appear heavily loaded towards encouraging residents to agree to a rise".

But the council, which wishes to increase Council Tax for 2022/23 by two per cent, says it has kept the increase as low as possible and that the consultation encourages people to share their thoughts.

Cllr Adam Zerny and (right) CBC headquarters, Chicksands.

Cllr Zerny told the Chronicle: "For long spells last year, the council wasn't even collecting bins. With all Central Beds Council's recent failures, a two per cent increase is too much for many households who have not had a pay increase for two years.

"Central Beds Council says on its website that it has created £9m savings in the coming year and this is used to justify tax increases. Some of the savings include cuts of £240,000 on educational transport. [But] it doesn't find space to mention that it is also expecting some pretty significant cost increases. £19million of them, in fact.

"Meanwhile, the council is increasing costs elsewhere. For example, it plans to spend an extra £50,000 on what it refers to as 'cultural services' but which turns out to be 'attracting more visitors to Central Bedfordshire'."

To take part in the consultation click here: https://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/info/141/budget/1086/budget_2022/5You can do so any time up to and including January 31.

Cllr David Shelvey, Executive Member for Corporate Resources, said: “Our budget consultation is designed so that people can freely share their thoughts – including whether they agree or disagree - on our main proposals, which are our spending areas, how we plan to make savings and our proposals for council tax.

"All of this feedback is reported to our Executive Committee for thorough consideration. We welcome any feedback on our proposals – it only takes five minutes but could shape the services you receive for the next year.”

A Central Beds Council spokesman added: "We never take a decision to raise Council Tax lightly or without huge debate.

"Unfortunately, council services are now funded predominantly by council tax and business rates. This means we have to make some tough decisions; we can’t continue to protect or improve services without asking residents to help to pay for them through Council Tax increases.

"We are acutely aware of the other increasing costs of living that our residents will be paying such as the cost of gas, inflation (currently at 5.1 per cent) and the Government announced they are increasing everyone’s National Insurance contribution by 1.25 per cent to help contribute to the costs of providing both health and social care.

"With this in mind, we have kept the Council Tax increase as low as possible."