Thursday, May 12, 2016

Church Stretton points the way forward for funding local services

From the Shropshire Star today:
Church Stretton Town Council has agreed to set up a “working group” to look at the services in the area put at risk by Shropshire Council cuts. 
It will launch consultation with people living in the town over whether to raise the council tax precept to help fund such services in the future. 
The move has come in response to Shropshire Council’s proposed budget for 2017, which suggests stopping all funding of services such as libraries and leisure centres.
This report reveals the scale of the cuts the government is inflicting on local government.

For decades the Liberal Democrats campaigned for local services, but then we adopted George Osborne's economic opinions during the Coalition years. When we start campaigning for local services again, as we must, we risk at best puzzling the voters.

But there may be something interesting at work here too.

When I was a councillor my impression was that people did not worry about the level of taxes so much as whether they got value for their money.

And maybe such judgements mean more when money is raised and spent locally.

So could Church Stretton, which you can see in the photo above, be pointing the way forward for local government?

It would go against the current thrust of policy in local government, which is all about the abolition and amalgamation of authorities and the appointment of regional mayors, but I would like to think so.

Mind you, such increases in hyperlocal taxation can be controversial, as the case of Desborough shows.

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