Friday, 30 July 2010

Wales also needs a veto over large Council Tax rises

The Coalition Government has today announced plans to allow local voters in England to veto any Council Tax rise over an agreed ceiling set by Westminster. Personally I believe that this is a big step forward in both (a) incentivising Councils to deliver more cost-effective services and cut out wasteful practises by denying them of the 'easy option' of just nodding through large annual rises; and (b) making councils more accountable to the people they are supposed to serve. Apparently the Government will be asking the Welsh Assembly Government to also adopt this new measure - lets hope that WAG realises that the era of the 'nanny state knows best' is now over and also implements this proposal in Wales.

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Incidentally this year the Council Tax bill for Anglesey rose by a record 4.5% (one of the largest rises in the UK) - although the average Band D bill on the Island remains slightly below the Wales average at £1,054.92. The reason for the large rise was mostly because of the generally derisory local authority settlement increases from the Welsh Assembly Government for many councils in North Wales compared to those in South Wales. For example both Anglesey and Conwy councils received a rise of just 1% from the Welsh Assembly Government compared to rises of 3.1% for Newport and 2.9% for Cardiff City in South Wales. These WAG settlements are determined by some formula which takes into account the various demographics of each area, but there is obviously something wrong with this calculation when the poorest county in the UK, Anglesey, had to negotiate a floor of 1% or it would have received even less. Why isn't Ieuan Wyn Jones fighting harder for his 'home' seat in the Welsh Assembly? 

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why isn't he fighting harder for his seat? No one knows, he's a law unto himself, and as far as I am concerned he has not only let himself down, he has let us ALL down. We'll never know why he behaves like this or what his problem is, maybe he doesn't like being criticised, or having his decisions questioned and aired in public, all I can reiterate is this fact, look around you and open your eyes, this whole mess, this political disaster, having an AM who doesn't care about us, is all OUR fault, remember the next time you vote for him, is a waste of a vote.

Anonymous said...

Lazy druid - Wrexham also got a 3.1% increase (the joint highest in Wales) in settlement from WAG but that little fact doesn't fit the "North-South divide" argument that anti-devolutionists like to push.

The Great Councillini said...

Druid, there is also room to discuss the rationale behind the government's move. One very obvious one is that they are passing the buck to the people - giving them a 'choice', as the Tories love to claim. Choose tax rises and maintained service levels, or choose tax caps (or even reductions), and consequently reduced service provisions. A great backdoor and populist way to destroy local authorities by setting the people against them. And whose fault will it all be when it turns sour? Why, the people, for making their choice, of course!

Anonymous said...

Your reasoning seems a bit odd on this one, Druid. You say this measure would make councils more accountable and that it put an end to the 'nanny state' but surely the opposite is true? Central gov demanding the level of council tax is the removal of local democracy. The people have the right to vote every four years for their local council and can vote out the current members if they are unhappy with the way they run the council.

That central gov also expects WAG to follow the same policy is also a denial of democracy and the very foundations of devolution.

It's not like you, Druid, to be so sloppy in your thinking. But maybe the final sentence gives us a clue why this is o in this post - your animosity towards IWJ has clouded your judgement.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Councillini - Perhaps. However, I see that a proposal like this which gives local people more power as an ideal way to prevent local authority bloat and waste. The private sector must strive every year to make their products/services both better and cheaper in order to remain profitable (e.g. TVs get larger every year, they have better picture quality every year, yet the prices also come down every year). The public sector currently has no such outward pressure to keep their costs down, accordingly council taxes automatically rise every year. You can say this is down to inflation - but the private sector (non-commodity businesses) also has to account for rising inflation too but still on the whole manages to reduce prices year by year.

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anon 17:24

"Central gov demanding the level of council tax is the removal of local democracy."

Not really. Central Government is only saying that if council tax rises above a certain limit, then it needs to be approved by a referendum in that local authority area. The onus is on the Local Authority to make the case for the rise to their constituents. Surely this strengthens local democracy?

"The people have the right to vote every four years for their local council and can vote out the current members if they are unhappy with the way they run the council."

I get the feeling that Anglesey residents are dissatisfied with many members of this council, yet they get re-elected time after time. The problem is - as we saw from the lack of attendance at the Hawl i Holi sessions - that Anglesey residents feel a disconnect with the council and just don't see how they can alter things. However, when residents are given the chance to vote on something which effects each and every one of them directly (levels of council tax), I think people will once again become much more engaged with whats going on in Llangefni.

"That central gov also expects WAG to follow the same policy is also a denial of democracy and the very foundations of devolution."

I think this point could be argued both ways.

"t's not like you, Druid, to be so sloppy in your thinking. But maybe the final sentence gives us a clue why this is o in this post - your animosity towards IWJ has clouded your judgement."

Thank you for the flowers. And, yes, I do think IWJ is dramatically under-performing.

Old Mona said...

I think the Druid is spot on 2 counts. Firstly the amount given to Anglesey by WAG was derisory and even the apologists for IWJ cannot fail to have noticed that he did nothing to helpwhen in fact he should have been ensuring that Anglesey got a good deal. He failed dismally as he has failed Anglesey on countless occasions.

The idea of the Govt to allow the public to vote on local tax rises is an excellent idea and I find it a bit rich for 'the Great Councilinni to say 'A great backdoor and populist way to destroy local authorities'. Well I for one are all for Popularism it it means that an idea which is popular with the public might become a reality and surely IOACC have beeen doing a good job of destroying local democracy all by themselvs without any help from anyone else. It is about time the public had a voice in Anglesey.

Anonymous said...

This will not be the first time, nor will it be the last time that IWJ has let us all down.

We live, we learn but we always forget don't we?, we always forgive him, so why should we this time, this is the ideal opportunity to attack him and denounce him, for the fool and idiot that he has become, it's your choice, either put up with his incompetence or shut up about it.

We all know, that there is no one to fill his boots, the whole saga of Plaid Cymru trying to run this Island has shown that it won't work, and the efforts made by IWJ to help us out of this mess, has been worthless.

Druid.

Did you get a response from IEUAN WYN JONES about the people's manifesto? If not, did you ask him again? This is the problem we have got a great weapon in our hands to rid the Island of this Clown, and we are all too frightened to use it!
He can't fight, he hasn't got it in him. his talent is back stabbing, and that's the same standard that has drifted into the local politics, just like a cancer that has infected us all, let's cure us and this Island of this mess, let's see if we can start by getting rid of this clown!

Anonymous said...

Blue Robed Druid - you are being found out!! Your judgement is certainly clouded and your political leanings even more clear for everyone to see. Whether you are actively campaigning to undermine IWJ before the next Assembly election or laying down the foundation for your preferred candidate (undoubtedly Blue) is irrelevant. You carry no weight and no influence whilst you remain nameless and faceless and continue to criticise from the sidelines, and even more so for the idiotic, inexperienced and downright foolish candidates and characters you have promoted in the past. Enough said - but maybe you want to reveal your identity and stand yourself to protect and promote the island you profess to love so much, even though you seem to prefer to stand in the shadows and criticise. Come on Druid - stand for the Assembly Election or the Council under your own name and identity - and be prepared to face the same issues, dilemmas, pressures and decisions that you seem happy to condemn other for facing whilst remaining faceless yourself.

Anonymous said...

Anon 02:46 has a point, has he/she not? As for Old Mona calling for Anglesey residents to have a voice - we have one, it's called an election. The problem is you have to stand in your name and colours to fight an election - something no one on this blog is willing to do - including the Druid.

I've noticed the notes on top of the comment box about the kind of commnets that will be deleted. It says it all - this blog draws people who do nothing but make unfounded allegations and threaten others. This is what this blog has become - a place where anons can rant with no substance. You must be disappointed, Druid. Not what you had hoped for surely.

Anonymous said...

Wow the last two "Anonymous" posts seem to have hit a nerve so it appears you are doing something right

Anonymous said...

I vote Plaid and IWJ is a let down to say the least.

Plaid would have taken Ynys Mon at Parliamentary level the other month except for one thing - IWJ and his total lack-lustre performance.

If he doesn't get some serious leg work done on the island and start being far more outspaken and clear on where he stands over major local issues such as housing, jobs and town centre decline along with what he will actually do as opposed to what he thinks should be done, then he can kiss goodbye to holding this seat in the Assembly - he will lose it and lose it bacly.

Old Mona said...

Anonymous 1051 is absolutely correct you are doing a great job Druid so keep up the good work. If you do have a blue robe it must be from the woad you dyed it with.

The Great Councillini said...

"I find it a bit rich for 'the Great Councilinni to say 'A great backdoor and populist way to destroy local authorities'. "

Well, we don't actually know whether it's going to be popular, do we? Nor do we know how it will work in practice.

Rich? Just my opinion. Entitled to it. Unless you're the council, in which case you'll try gagging...

Old Mona said...

Councillini "Unless your'e the council, in which case you'll try gagging...

No, I am not on the council either as a Councillor or employee, just an ordinary guy who pays his council and Income tax expressing an opinion. It is a free country still I hope.

Anonymous said...

We are all entitled to our opinions, some of them are written to get at the truth, the truth that is always well hidden, buried under a layer of grime and incompetence.

We elected IWJ to represent us, whose fault is it if he has failed us? Who is to blame for his weakness and incapability? It's our fault, by allowing him free reign to make decisions that have a detremental effect on our welfare and wellbeing.

What do I mean by welfare, the way we live and how we live, it's IWJ's fault that his influence in the Welsh Assembly is weak and his policies and decisions are poor and not well thought out.

In the long term businesses will disappear, and our future will look even bleaker.

Our well being will suffer, our way of life will be undermined, by poor decisions made by poor politicians, uncaring politicians who are influenced NOT by the wishes of the people, but by the wishes of a Government in Westminster who are cutting down on the amount of money we receive.

While at the same time, taking our assets, to fill the coffers in London. The system stinks, IWJ should have asked for more, they have taken plenty, now it's time for them to pay back.

This Council Tax rise will only encourage the Welsh Assembly to think that we are just willing to let them do unto us, whatever they want, whenever they want.

Are we not able to stop and think why did this happen? or do we just let it happen.
The poorest part of Wales, being taken for a ride, again!

Old Mona said...

Anonymous

We are to blame for IWJ weakness and incapabilities.

Really, well I do not accept I am to blame at all, I did not vote for him. He has represented Anglesey for too long and has outgrown any usefulness if he ever had any in the first place.

He is incompetent not because of the people of Anglesey but because he has lost the plot.

The way out of this mess is to get IWJ off our backs and send him to the retirement home

I think Anonymous is confused, is he talking about the Govt of the pats 13 years or the current Govt as he seems to sway between the two. This Govt have made it only too clear that it will have to cut back but it seems to me that is academic the amount we got from WAG last year was one of the lowest in Wales, IWJ was deputy First Minister as well as being (laughably) our AM, that is why we should have expected him to work on our behalf and get us a good deal.

Anonymous said...

Am I right in thinking that only the properties in Wales were revalued for Council Tax and England didn't get done because they kicked up a stink

Anonymous said...

I think IWJ is useless but worse than that, he is divisive. Can he be relaxed about re-election though? I was the first to point out that Albert Owen would be re-elected because he was the incumbent here (and the opposition was weak.)So... can IWJ depend on inertia at the Assembly election?

We still need an outstanding candidate from either Labour or the Tories and he/she should be in place now!

As for delegating responsibility for OK ing Council tax rises to the electorate.... good idea if the electorate is in the know about what the Council is doing with our money.

Here's an interesting question for our informed readers;
Ynys Mon cc has been cutting budgets for two years now..What have they cut? Don't all answer at once....

The Great Councillini said...

"Am I right in thinking that only the properties in Wales were revalued for Council Tax and England didn't get done because they kicked up a stink"

Don't know. But why wouldn't anyone kick up a stink about such a truly regressive tax as the Council tax? Based not on the ability to pay, but the market value of your home - something that depends on the mass stupidity of others in inflating house prices for their own, selfish ends.

Everyone needs a home. So homes should not be a means to make money; it's the same as the water companies asking every morning: 'Right then, how much for this litre of water?' and everyone pays the amount the rich bloke at the end is willing to fork out.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to stun a lot of people, but council tax on Anglesey is quite cheap compared to councils in Greater Manchester for example.