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Bonkers Blog March 2015

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16 March - Bexley council at the back of the grant queue

When returning from a weekend away I usually find that something has turned up in the interval to fill the Monday blog - but not so this time and the only messages have been of the ‘where’s the blog gone’ variety. So scraping the barrel somewhat, here's a short filler.

JobsThe Spring 2015 Bexley magazine has fallen onto the doormat providing its usual carefully chosen words about life in the borough. Some things are undoubtedly looking up, notably the investment going into the north of the borough which will help stop Bexley’s council tax rate rising to highest in London from its current low point of 24th worst. It can be no coincidence that the council belatedly repented on its isolationist policy. i.e. no river crossings, and commercial interests and developers are flocking to Erith and Belvedere.

The council magazine doesn’t hide the fact that council tax is going up but its says not a word about the myriad of stealth taxes. Car park season tickets up 50%, council tax up by a third for those on benefits, and perhaps most surprising of all, the new bin tax. More than 3% extra for me for a worse service than before; total capacity will be less than 80% of the current level. Differing circumstances will produce different percentage ‘tax’ increases but allegedly they average 2·9%.

The council reminds us on Page 12 that it has joined streetlife.com and so did I recently. Bexley residents are there in force some of whom are complaining vigorously about the lack of notice or consultation on the new recycling rearrangements. With only 1,581 responses it is not surprising that most residents are in ignorance of what is coming next October. How difficult would it have been to tag a notice to each brown bin?

With apathy being the major occupation of too many taxpayers, the seriousness of Bexley’s financial position will be as little known as the bin tax. Much of it can be laid at the government’s door, or the previous government’s door depending on one’s political leanings. Bromley council is in a similar position and has been trying to tell its residents just how hard done by it is, maybe Bexley will do the same in due course.

One of Bromley’s charts is reproduced below. (Click or scroll.)

Chart

As you can see, only four London boroughs are given a worse deal by government than Bexley and only three fewer spend less on their squeezed populations. Bromley suffers most by any measure but it manages to levy a Band D council tax significantly lower than Bexley. Almost 10% lower.

It pays its councillors more than Bexley and its senior management almost as much and I suspect the lower Band D tax rate comes about from having a higher proportion of Band E and higher property than Bexley, but Bromley’s website hides the details even more thoroughly than Bexley’s. I didn’t think that was possible.

 

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