Monday, 20 February 2012

Elections denied, Anglesey hit by LARGEST Council Tax rise in entire United Kingdom

Today Anglesey's Commissioners and the Shadow Executive agreed to raise next year's Council tax by 4.5 percent. This means that while we are denied an election, the third POOREST county in the United Kingdom will be hit with the LARGEST council tax rise not just in Wales, but in the entire United Kingdom.

Council Tax rises from April this year

In fact a rise of 5 percent was supported by Labour and Plaid Cymru — it is only thanks to pressure from the Independents that it was eventually reduced down to a still massive 4.5 percent. In the council press release, Commissioner Byron Davies justified the rise by arguing it is necessary to safeguard the Island's three swimming pools and also spare public toilets from the axe.

However thats not the explanation for the this extraordinary rise. These are the real reasons:

  • The Commissioners have failed to deliver on £1.2 million worth of savings they were mandated to make this year. As a consequence of this, £600,000 has had to be covered by dipping into the council's bank account, £281,000 was judged to have been unachievable anyway, and the remaining £368,000 now needs to be found in addition to the further savings required next year. As £250,000 is roughly equivalent to one percentage point on Anglesey's council tax, this failure to deliver by the Commissioners has added an extra one and half percentage points to next year's bills.
  • The Commissioners, under direction from Cardiff, have further decided to spend an additional £1 million on 'strengthening' the 'Corporate Centre'. £300,000 of this will go on improving Children's services — something nobody will quibble with — however the remaining £600,000 (worth two and half percentage points on your council tax bill) will mostly be spent on hiring more HQ staff.
  • Despite the above additional costs being placed on Anglesey by Cardiff, Ynys Môn council this year received the second worse funding settlement from the Welsh Government — a cut of -1.2% compared to an average increase to other Welsh councils of 0.58%.
  • The Welsh Government has long complained that Ynys Môn has kept its Council Tax too low. In my view this has always been justified by the fact that Ynys Môn has long been officially the poorest place in the country. However, by sanctioning the largest council tax rise in the United Kingdom, the Commissioners have clearly shown that they are here not to do their best by the residents of Ynys Môn, but to best serve the interests of the Welsh Government in Cardiff.

Furthermore, despite being more than partially responsible for the need for such a large rise, both the unaccountable Commissioners and Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Minister for Local Government, have strong-armed Councillors into acquiescing to the largest Council Tax rise in the UK by stressing that it would be an "acid test" of their political maturity (a lack of debate apparently shows maturity). The carrot of a partial return of powers (and special allowances) was also dangled before the shadow executive.

This budget will now go to a vote before the Full Council on March 6th. Despite opposition from Labour and Plaid who supported the original 5 percent rise, the Independents have done well to get it cut down to 4.5 percent — however they have shied away from provoking any further confrontation with the Commissioners and Cardiff. However, with completely new local boundaries being forced onto Anglesey next year specifically to get rid of Independent councillors, I wonder why they feel they have anything more to lose? They cannot be penalised any further by Cardiff — it would be better for their electoral chances next year if they returned to their traditional low tax roots and made a stand on behalf of Anglesey residents by voting against this rise on March 6th. These rises are not purely to safeguard services and facilities, therefore it surely cannot be right to impose the single largest council tax increase in the entire United Kingdom on its third poorest area.

21 comments:

Jeff Jones said...

Sorry to disgree with you Paul but most people who understand local government finance would argue that the Commissioners who now run Ynys Mon have produced the most sensible council tax rise in Wales. In an election year low council tax rises might look politically clever but in the present economic climate they only make things harder in the future. Ask yourself why so many council finance officers in England are advising councillors to reject the idea of using UK government money to freeze the council tax? Those councils who have decided to either freeze or levy very low council tax increases have in fact only made life even harder for the new administrations after May I'm afraid. With further cuts inevitable in local government services given the fact that only 12% of planned total cuts to public spending and just 6% of the cuts in current public service spending will have been implemented by the end of this financial year,it makes sense to raise your council tax base. The mistake that Ynys Mon council has made in the past has been not to use the floor agreed by other local authorities to help coucils such as Ynys Mon to produce a realistic council tax rise.

Paul Williams said...

Hi Jeff, always glad to get your input, whether for or against.

I'm sure you are right and accept that most council taxes this year have been artificially deflated due to the local elections, but even so 5% would be a big old rise any year. The bulk of the rise is also nothing to do with protecting facilities/services as it has been portrayed, but is for financing a bumper investment into improving the corporate centre. Will this pay dividends in the future? We don't know, but with the Commissioners staying on until next year anyway, there is no reason why these costs couldn't have been spread over two years in order to ensure a more reasonable council tax rise. Anglesey may not be *the* poorest region anymore, but at third from bottom it is still right in my opinion that the council errs on the side of keeping any council tax rises low for the benefit of its residents.

kp said...

Last year, IoACC publicly stated that it expected to invoke 5% rises in council tax year upon year for the foreseeable future.

As far as I can recall, you did not protest them. Indeed, you and the majority of your readers were welcoming such rises.

Me wonders why you are protesting so loudly now? Now, given that the time for protest has long since past.

It is rather the same with your views on Wylva. At least behind, and with little chance to change anything now.

Disappointing to say the least!

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see what the relative £ figure increase is and what the new Council Tax's will be across all authorities after the proposed increase.
I would suggest the chart will look somewhat different.

Although 5% sounds a lot, those on benefits and on low income are protected from any increase, because the Government pays. This is quite a high percentage in Ynys Mon,

Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree with comments supporting a rise in council tax. Public workers seem to think that they have right to raise rates in line with inflation every year or that the following year they would rise it even more. Surely they must think that the rate payers have a duty to cough up more every year, regardless how hard things are on the individual payer.

Its time for the public sector to realise that without the private funding sector we could not afford public services. The day will come when the golden goose is totally drained ! Can't they see what happening in Greece were the public sector have had to take a cut.

Its time for our public sector to to take a CUT !!! and stop being the looking after themselves !!

There is no "Money growing tree" !!!

Un o Fon

Anonymous said...

I agree with you there Un o Fon, the Public sector have this sense that everything belongs to them, the forget that the tax payers paid for it all.
It's this idea that they have, they think that they own everything they survey and we as members of the public should bow and scrape to their wishes and demands.
They should try their best to invest in people instead of kicking them in the teeth.
We only have ourselves to blame, we allowed the monkeys to run the zoo for too long, the whole system has got out of control, the analysis is simple is this Council worth the money we spend on it?
No, it's not!

Anonymous said...

I saw an old school friend this weekend, and we were discussing whether his decision to leave in the 1970's had been a good choice.

Unfortunatley, he was determined that he had made the right choice, he owed his Country nothing, because his Country had failed him, his Country didn't provide him with a job and decent career, he had to leave to follow his ambition.

He kept in touch with some friends, and his family, but he could never return, even if he brought all of his business acumen and experience.
" But why?" I asked " Politicians destroy the dreams of the people, where I live now, the people are encouraged, in Anglesey they want to take and destroy you"

I was surprised at that answer, in fact I was ashamed, no wonder, the Island can not hold on to it's youth, when we allow them to leave due to lack of work, we only have ourselves to blame, or who is at fault?

The public sector encourage their own families, cousins to work together so no one else gets a chance, the Council have more run down areas of unemployment here than in third world countries, but hey. it's okay as long as we all speak Welsh we won't starve, I mean our Council and Political Misfits will make sure that we will survive.... on handouts.

mairede thomas said...

Anon @19.03 Your friends comment "the people are encouraged",- I think that idea should be woven into the 'vision' of the forthcoming plan for Anglesey:- encouraged to get involved with their Council; encouraged to start their own businesses; encouraged to demand better services; encouraged to vote; encouraged to look after the people and places around them etc etc. It may not be the whole 'vision' but it's a useful start.

Jeff Jones said...

Ynys Mon's band D council tax for 2010/13 is about £200 less than Bridgend's which has frozen its council tax. In many ways this fact sums up the problem when it comes to assessing council tax. For most people its the amount you pay not the percentage increase that matters. The highest council taxes in Wales are paid in the urban areas and even there they are far lower than in most parts of England. It was William Hague who in fact decided that the gap between England and Wales should close and Welsh councils should raise more through council tax. You don't have to be a magician to work out that the council tax rises in the next four years will all be greater than that proposed for 2012/13. Whether or not the extra money raised by the council tax increase will be spent wisely will up to the councillors on Ynys Mon who have the responsibility of scrutinising the decisions of the Commissioners. Stregthening the centre doesn't always mean wasting money on faceless bureaucrats. If used wisely it can lead to improved service delivery which is definitely needed given the financial position faced by the Council over the next few years.

Maes Llwyn said...

It is not surprising that we are where we are with Council rates.
We have seen years of overspending, overstaffing and financial mismanagement in this Council. Whoever said it all depended on a successful private sector milk-cow was right. Now the private sector is under severe strain. Complacency reigned.
We have 40 well-paid councillors representing some 60K population.
Do we need 40......certainly not. Have we missed them during the reign of the 5Commissioners....not !
The Council would manage very adequately with 20.
A root and branch review of this Council is long overdue.

Anonymous said...

I wish to draw your attention to the reasons why we are still struggling, a distinct segregation between the people and those we elected has resulted in a lack of trust and faith.

Did we honestly believe that those we elected would help us out? I think the elected are desperately trying to keep themselves in their jobs, gaining as much as they can while we all struggle.

It isn't that we don't have faith in them anymore, we are trying our best to find a way to survive without them.

Do we need all of these Councillors? We don't need them at all, all they have managed to do is make sure that they are well entitled to all of their allowances, their slice of the cake, a piece of the planning action, a slice of the windturbine cash flow, a few little housing developments, you name it, they want it, and the real reason behind the Commissioners being here? It's not to make sure this Council does it's job properly, it's to make sure all of the bad history and mistakes in the past remain buried from the public for years to come. This is the Anglesey way, hide the crap from public scrutiny, it's what Carl Sargeant wants, for if the real knowledge was to come out, there would be real protests on the streets.

The Red Flag said...

Interesting slant on things Druid. However it is a Westminster Tory 'drive' that Wales increases it's council tax to nearer the Enlish levels, is it not? Mileage there for a Welsh Conservative Party as opposed to a UK one with a purely Welsh agenda as opposed to following the London diktat perhaps?

I like your line The Welsh Government has long complained that Ynys Môn has kept its Council Tax too low. In my view this has always been justified by the fact that Ynys Môn has long been officially the poorest place in the country. I have mentioned on your blog and several others that council tax on Anglesey is actually pretty low.

I seem to recall several weeks ago that the Commissioners were warning that around the 5% mark - along with cuts, was to be expected for the next three years at least.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that the council would be far better managed if the Commissioners sent here were from the private sector and not Carl Sergents cronies who have only experience they have is in the public sector.

These people have no private business skills and are used to drawing there funding from the public purse !

The Red Flag said...

Highlighting that council tax in Wales is cheaper than England.

Place I know well - Oldham. Just released their charge for this coming financial year along with 400 full time job cuts. Third year that they will be frozen however they have warned residents that once the 'council-tax-feeze' grants stop, the charge will have to rise to where it should have been all in one fell swoop - ie if it were this year then a 12% rise would have been necessary.

Anyway, their charge for FY 2012/13 for the town itself (which is cheaper than the rural areas of the borough like Saddleworth) is as follows (and it's pretty normal for England):-

Band A 1,028.55
Band B 1,199.98
Band C 1,371.40
Band D 1,542.83
Band E 1,885.68
Band F 2,228.54
Band G 2,571.38
Band H 3,085.66

Disgusted said...

Sorry off the above item, But.

Anglesey County Council Planning Officers, contrary to the Planning Committee Chairman's public statement are still approving Planning Applications for Wind Turbines behind closed doors using their delegated powers.

This application was for the erection of 1 turbine with a maximum upright vertical tip height up to 27.1m on land adjoining Glyn, Llanbedrgoch.

Anonymous said...

Typical delegated power decision, the sort that makes a mockery of Democracy, what Democracy? Well we have the Anglesey way of Democracy, Political Parties that are without any real opposition, their Democratic way of doing things are as above comment states, decisions made behind closed doors, with no public scrutiny or accountability.
Unless we decide to contest these clowns, then we will be in the same mess for years to come.

Anonymous said...

So the Commissioners condone the practice of decisions behind closed doors without public consultation, what side are the Commissioners on, the new way or the secret bad old ways?
Answers on a postcard to

Whose side are you on Commissioners?
Secret Office Top Floor
Llangefni
Ynys Mon

Maes Llwyn said...

There is another monster, for Lletty, on land near Llandyfrydog, closing date for objections today, 23rd.....are Officers ignoring orders ??

Anonymous said...

Chairman of the Planning Committee

"The Authority are taking measures to ensure that planning applications are only register which contain all relevant information required at the outset and no applications will be presented to Committee until such time as Officers are in a position to make a recommendation.Therefore any applications currently on the Committee Agenda will not appear in future until all consultations have been completed"

So is it right to say that to get round that pledge to the People Officers are dealing with the applications, by side-lining the Planning Committee and approving applications for wind turbines under their delegated powers, behind closed doors and without consultation?

Anonymous said...

22.36. There's no conspiracy theory. It's pretty simple if current applications have already provided the correct information as referred to in the statement as "all relevant information required", then the Council have to consider the application within normal timeframes and within delegated powers, otherwise the Council encouarges appeals for non-determination and potentially costs, which will only add to the cost of the service. On the latter point of delegation, usually members can request a 'call-in' and the matter is then dealt with by Cllrs as members of Planning Committee. Put pressure on members perhaps instead of trying to find the sniper on the grassy knoll. There's no behind the door decisions, just old planning policies that don't accord with those who don't wish to see turbines. Get involved in the next round of consultations and influence on the revised policy that will emerge in due course.

Anonymous said...

Back to thread. The council needed to put up council taxes at 4.5% to pay for David Bowles appalling behavior. The commissioners wanted 5% but the councillor wouldn't wear that.