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Shifting Expenses

Shifting ExpenditureThe silly season must be here again in Fylde. 

John Coombes is aping Tony Blair, and inventing new ways to tax us. Now he wants each of Fylde's fifteen parish councils to charge new taxes on top of existing council tax rates.

Using its now standard doublespeak to mean the opposite of what it actually says, Fylde Council's latest lunacy has been christened 'Equitable Taxation' (sic)

The idea is that Fylde Borough wants to pass over responsibility for public services and facilities to Parish Councils, and it wants them to raise raise the money from their own communities. 

There are three main snags. 

First, Fylde Borough Council is not going to reduce its tax by an equivalent amount.  Second, it will cost each parish 54% more for the same level of service (Parish Councils don't get Government grant funding like Borough Councils do), and third, Fylde Borough has not realised that Parish Councils are not as stupid is it is, and they have free choice whether it should happen.

Fylde's public facilities exist throughout the borough but, because parish councils are more cost effective, Fylde council uses its tax revenue to pay most parish councils to look after parks, bus shelters, street sweeping etc in their areas. Thus the tax is universally raised and equitably spent. 

Parish Councils only raise their own taxes for services that are extra to those provided by Fylde, like extra street sweeping.

If he can't persuade St Annes Parish Council to join in (and they are not so stupid), he is considering 'Plan B' which is for the Borough Council to make separate charges for each area itself.

Like the man who asked for the cost of a swimming pool he didn't use to be deducted from his hotel bill - Councillor Coombes thinks he can justify his plan by saying that people outside St Annes and Kirkham shouldn't have to pay for the swimming pools located there. 

But the picture might be bigger. Fylde has already tried to damage the new St Annes Parish Council by not collecting their first year expenditure properly, and now Councillor Coombes is trying to frighten people with threats of big increases, and at the same time paving the way for Fylde's mistakes to be covered up with this smokescreen when it collects what St Annes parish should already have had from them.

If he pursues this tax con-trick on St Anne's residents, I for one, hope the new Saint Annes on the Sea Parish Council also ask him for:

  • the 80,000 a year Fylde Council gets from selling sand from St Annes beach, 

  • the 120,000 a year from St Annes miniature golf course, 

  • and the lion's share of the 400,000 a year from St Annes car parking charges. 

Maybe they should also ask for the millions that will come from selling our Town Hall, our Public Offices, our tourism offices site, our two depots on St David's Road North, our car park at the North Beach, and our land in Ashton Gardens, before John Coombes and his cronies complete their asset stripping of the town and leave us with nothing. 

As an afterthought, maybe St Annes Parish Council should also ask for the cash payment of 3 million or whatever it is that Barratt's will be paying for the development of the Queen Mary School site in "our" parish.

Words fail. 

Dated:  4 August 2005

For details of what Special Expenses and Precepts are, and how they affect what you pay in Council tax, look at the Council Funding note


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