Cameron's plan for referendums on council tax increases is another tax on local people

David Cameron proves again that sound bites are more important than substance when he announced that under the Tories, local tax payers will have the right to have a referendum on council tax increases each year. What utter twaddle.

Anyone who knows anything about local elections knows that they actually impose a great cost on the council. Imagine holding a referendum each year and how much that would cost. I'll give you a simple figure. If the cost of a referendum for a council was just £120,000, then this equates, for an average sized district council to 2.5% of their annual council tax take. So get this. David Cameron proposes that councils spend 2.5% of their budget each year in order for local residents to decide if council tax should be cut by 1%.

Essentially Cameron's plans are another tax on local people. Where is the logic in that ?

And what of council's with very mixed populations covering a wider area. take for example North Norfolk. Not all of North Norfolk is on the coast, indeed, most of the population of North Norfolk District Council lives inland. So what about North Norfolk spending money on the regeneration of Cromer and seat defences there ? What about sea defences at Happisburgh ? Can you imagine voters in an inland town like North Walsham seeing this as a priority ? The whole point is that a council takes a pragmatic view based on all the facts and evidence and makes decisions that are sometimes unpopular, but are for the greater good. David Cameron's ideas would ensure that only the populist decisions are made, not the difficult and important ones.

Cameron's ideas are an absolute joke and speak volumes about the Tories willingness to devolve power to locally elected councillors. just like the 1980's, this is another attempt to control councils by stealth. The Tories, it appears, never change, and given that the Tories control the majority of councils in the country, it does not seem David Cameron trusts his own party's councillors !


Anonymous said...

Typical of a (former) councillor not to think outside the box. Could this be combined with regular elections or done someother way? establishment thinking wins no vote. I like the idea from Cameron - it'll stop councils being silly rather more than the cap ever did.

Norfolk Blogger said...

And you fail to address any of the points I made.

Regular elections ? the Tories (and Tory councils) have lobbied across the country for councils to stop having annual elections and go for a four yearly cycle because they say that annual eleciotns ancourage short term thinking and a constant drive for popularity over consistency.

As a former councillor (and note, I wanted to stop being a councillor) I can see this from both sides. Something that you obviously cannot see.

How about addressing the issue of cost ???

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of devolving tax decisions locally, as different areas require very different things, but you make a good point. However;

a) Would a simple yes / no election not be a lot cheaper to carry out than one involving many candidates, PR, etc? Surely the counting would be more simple

b) How on earth do they manage it in the various US states that have referendum as part of their constitution? They often vote on budget issues?

Norfolk Blogger said...

It depends. There is no evidence to suggest that elections with only two candidates (Mr Yes and Mr No) are any cheper. The cost is in staff costs, giring polling stations, counting the votes (staff costs again).

As for postal ballot, when you consider postage, printing and Freepost costs for 40,000 homes and then the counting, verification, etc, associated, there is little chance of much change from £100,000