Mayor answers your questions

EDITOR – Reference:

l Frozen council tax

l Doubled the number of hours for monitoring CCTV

l Protected jobs – there will be no redundancies

l Maintaining all services

l Investment of £4.5m in Big Society initiatives

I have had many people contact me over the press releases that have been coming out of West Lindsey, with no explanation of how they have managed this.

The questions that have been asked are:

Why have they been able to hold down council tax now but were unable to hold it down in the past?

Council tax was only frozen because of Government funding of £140,000+ and the clawing back of the Gainsborough subsidy, adding £1 per electorate on the parish councils’ precept.

This adds up to about £200,000 or around a three per cent plus council tax increase. We would have seen a 1.5 per cent tax increase this year if this money wasn’t available. If these figures are correct, we have 1.5 per cent to carry forward for next year.

Is this money still available next year?

I believe so, maybe for another three years.

What happens when this money stops coming from Government?

That is what I am worried about. This shortfall in tax collection will come back and bite us.

If someone keeps paying you to hold down a price increase and you rely on this money, then one day when this stops you will need to find that shortfall. This can be in a large increase in council tax, cutting back on the workforce or a reduction in services.

I have been approached by people concerned over the CCTV in the town and if they are monitored all the time at West Lindsey now they have doubled the monitoring hours.

Stopping the contract they have had with the CCTV contractors has saved £50,000 a year. Moving it over to the Marshall Yard system and adding the two lots together will give an increase from 75 to 150 monitoring hours.

Technically, however, this is not an increase in monitoring hours but a loss of overall quality monitoring by doubling or trebling the number of monitors each operator watches. This probably means some of the people employed by the original contractors lost their jobs.

I bet you would like to know where the £4.5m came from for the Big Society initiatives.

I know what the rest of you are thinking!

Ken Bridger

Mayor of Market Rasen and West Lindsey district councillor