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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ulverston town council blasted over tax hike

ULVERSTON residents will face an increase of almost 10 per cent for their council tax precept – as councillors defended their decision to set the budget in private.

At the end of part one of Monday’s town council meeting, members of the public and press were asked to leave while councillors set the budget for the upcoming year. Several councillors opposed the decision to discuss next year’s budget in camera, claiming the council had a duty to conduct its affairs in public.

Conservative councillor Norman Bishop-Rowe angrily criticised the decision.

He said: “It is public money and we are setting this budget for the taxpayer.”

Cllr Bishop-Rowe said he had never known a council set its budget behind closed doors in his 14 years in local government.

The Evening Mail understands the precept levied on each home in Ulverston will raise from £33.95 to £37.27 a year — a rise of £3.32.

No Conservative councillor voted for the debate to be held in private but the motion was pushed through by the Labour majority. The town council is made up of 10 Labour members and eight Conservative members.

Councillors defended their decision saying sensitive contractual issues were going to be discussed.

Opponents said they had no problem with certain details being kept private but insisted as much of the meeting as possible should be held in public.

However, Labour councillor Colin Pickthall said that would not have been possible.

He said: “The difficulty was that the centre of the controversy was the wages that we were proposing to pay – particularly to the town clerk. There was no way we could discuss the budget without discussing those wages.

“It would be totally embarrassing in public to discuss somebody’s salary in that sort of way – that would be wrong.”

The town clerk position, advertised with a salary of up to £28,000, has been filled by Jayne Kendall, who will take over from David Parratt at the end of February.

Cllr Pickthall also defended the precept increase.

He said: “That is the equivalent of 6p a week, or less than one cigarette a month.”

Once the budget has been formally approved it will be made available to the public. The council will have a budget next year of just under £200,000.

Have your say

council tax rising yet again hitting the poor when it snowed on fri 25 jan 2013 i did not see a gritter in the morecambe road area all day tradidisionary the busiest road there could have been accidents you dont see the gritting lorries on most snowy days here and there is also a lot of dog fouling here as well and the ropewalk is littered with dog foul ithink something should be done about it we pay the tax the council should do their job

Posted by peter wilson on 31 January 2013 at 20:24

For "Hoad Hill's" information, Jane Kendall has no connection whatever with KUS, and never has had. Hoad Hill's anonymous comment is cowardly, insulting, and as usual, plain wrong.

Posted by Colin Pickthall on 11 December 2012 at 18:08

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