Thursday, March 08, 2007

A small Council Tax rant

I still find it amazing that there is supposedly no room in our jails for the criminal fraternity in the UK. Indeed over the past few months much has been said in the press about the Home Office being "Fit for Purpose", and the Home Offices reply, why to send out yet more guidelines for sentencing.

These guidelines have been adhered to by the Judges in a few notable cases, were it has been said by government spokesmen that the judges were making political statements, which with their roles as Judges, and their impartiality they are not supposed to do.

Which begs the question, if there is no room in our jails for criminals, how come a retired vicar can be jailed for not paying above inflation Council Tax increase?

Since I personally began paying what was then the Council Rates, back in the 90's then my annual bill for a family home in the lowest band was about £190.00. Then Maggie Thatcher had a brain wave, bring in the Poll Tax or Community Charge as it was properly called.

The problem was that council tax billed doubled, I went from paying £190.00 to just short of £400.00, now I cannot see for the life of me why it had to be set at that figure. Had they just said right everyone has to pay. Set the money at £100.00, no problem, but no they (The councils) had to be greedy, so everyone over 18 paid £190.00. Effectively doubling the money that the councils received, and in some homes quadrupling the amount. None of this money has ever been really accounted for.

That is what was so unfair, that a family with two kids over 18 still at home had their Poll Tax quadrupled, whilst a couple in an above average large house had their Poll Tax amount reduced. The better class and larger your house, the less you paid. Not with standing that parents became liable for their kids part of the bill, if they lived at home. So we had massive amounts of children leaving home at 18, kids who would have otherwise stayed at home and maybe gone to college etc.

We then had civil unrest, riots, people refusing to pay, which effectively forced the government of the day to do a U turn. The Poll Tax was no more, and they came up with the Council Tax which was virtually the old rating system, with loop holes closed.

Since then Council Tax has risen, albeit slowly at first until in the last 6 years it has doubled what it was in 2000. Each time it has gone up since 1997 (when Labour came to power) it has risen by more than the rate of inflation.

This begs the question, just what the buggery are they doing with my/our money? Where is it being hidden, what is it being used for?

In Blackpool, over the last 5 years the town hall has been revamped 3 times, each conversion more expensive than the last. From posh block paving of all the footpaths around the council offices, to the brand new front entrance and reception areas, each change makes no difference nor does it contribute to the people of Blackpool's standard of life, it just makes the spendthrift councillors want to spend more and more money revamping all their offices. Whilst the roads, transport and street cleansing just get steadily worse!

These increases are forcing more and more of our pensioners into becoming criminals, they are refusing to pay above inflation rises, and they are going to jail to make their case. Just as Alfred Ridley, the retired vicar has chosen to do! Well done Alfred!

I believe that if everyone wrote to their local councillor and local MP's and stated that this year will be the last year of council tax rises. That in future any increase will be kept under inflation or first the councillors will lose their honorariums, then senior staff salaries will be reduced, then senior staff will be sacked. Threaten them where it really hurts in their pocket! Maybe then they would think twice about non jobs, and jobs for the boys.

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