Tax increase plan leads to vociferous response

MP for Ilkley and Keighley Kris Hopkins

MP for Ilkley and Keighley Kris Hopkins

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Reporter

Ilkley Parish Council’s proposed precept rise of 22 per cent has been branded “the wrong call at the wrong time” by the town’s MP.

Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins said the above-inflation rise would generate deep anger across the town.

The planned increase has also been attacked by Labour candidates due to contest this year’s Bradford Council election and the next General Election.

Sandy MacPherson, who is to contest Ilkley Parish Council chairman Mike Gibbons’ Bradford Council seat, and Keighley and Ilkley constituency Labour candidate, John Grogan, said parish councillors should be exercising more financial discipline.

The Conservative-led parish council last week agreed to increase its annual charge for the average household in town to just over £24, an increase of more than 22 per cent.

The Council’s overall budget for 2014 to 2015 is to rise from almost £154,000 to £185,600 – with £20,000 set aside for Tour de France spending, £7,000 for the drafting of a Neighbourhood Plan and a £7,000 rise in the Council’s Awards and Projects pot.

Mr Hopkins said: “I have always been opposed to high precept or council tax increases, particularly given the ongoing pressures on people’s pockets.

“Ilkley Parish Council is rightly held in high esteem, and its members have a well-earned reputation for using public resources wisely.

“But this is the wrong call at the wrong time. Council tax more than doubled under Labour, and the Conservative-led Government has been determined to keep council tax and precept rises to a minimum.

“A proposed precept rise of 22 per cent demonstrates contempt for local residents and will generate deep anger across the town, particularly amongst those on fixed incomes. ”

Mr MacPherson, of Ben Rhydding, said: “This is a very big rise given the pressures many people are currently under with a cost of living crisis affecting many ordinary Ilkley families.

“I really think our local Parish councillors should be exercising more financial discipline.”

He added: “I also look forward to debating these issues robustly with Ilkley Parish Council chairman councillor Mike Gibbons during this year’s local election campaign when he will be defending his seat on Bradford Council for the Conservative Party.

“From what I can see he and his party colleagues preach austerity at City Hall but are rather less keen on the idea here in Ilkley.

“The irony is that if such an increase was being proposed by Bradford Council there would by law have to be a district-wide referendum.”

Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for the Ilkley and Keighley seat, John Grogan, said he noted part of the reason for the rise was one-off expenditure on the Tour de France.

Mr Grogan said: “Many people have contacted me over the weekend saying at the very least they would like an assurance that this increase will be reversed next year when the parish councillors set their final budget before facing the electorate in elections in May 2015.

“They noted that a very similar increase some years ago was attributed to expenditure in connection with the Queen’s Jubilee but no reduction in council tax followed the year afterwards.”

Chairman of Ilkley Parish Council, Coun Gibbons defended the rise, saying: “With an election due soon, I can understand the politically-based comments from some quarters, but Ilkley Parish Council is setting a precept that it feels is required to operate and benefit all the people of Ilkley.

“Nothing is paid to councillors and the vast majority of funds are returned to the community through awards and projects, events and the enhancement of public amenities.”

He added: “Ilkley’s is a very modest precept when compared with many other parish and town councils across the country.”

Coun Gibbons went on to say the increase would be approximately £4 per year for the average four-person property, or about 8p per week.

Comments (3)

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12:45pm Thu 13 Feb 14

pjl20 says...

Unlike the complainants named in this article, I was present in the council chamber at both Ilkley Parish Council and Keighley Town Council, last week when the precept increases were discussed, voted upon and agreed by the councillors.

In comparison, KTC debated whether the increase ought to be as much as 2.66%, for Keighley residents. This was rejected and just a 1.79% increase was agreed by vote.

What is the relevance of such a comparison? In Ilkley, a substantial proportion of the precept is awarded to 'good causes' and to charitable work in the locality. Whereas in Keighley, the KTC has a problem with both the lack of reserves and a Civic Centre not meeting the income forecast contained in it's business plan.

Do we wish to continue to support such good causes in Ilkley, plus keeping the Manor House Museum open (for one year only) until a long-term solution can be found? As a local resident the choice is yours, not mine.

Paul Latham
PPC, Keighley & Ilkley Constituency (and a 30-year local resident)
UK Independence Party.
Unlike the complainants named in this article, I was present in the council chamber at both Ilkley Parish Council and Keighley Town Council, last week when the precept increases were discussed, voted upon and agreed by the councillors. In comparison, KTC debated whether the increase ought to be as much as 2.66%, for Keighley residents. This was rejected and just a 1.79% increase was agreed by vote. What is the relevance of such a comparison? In Ilkley, a substantial proportion of the precept is awarded to 'good causes' and to charitable work in the locality. Whereas in Keighley, the KTC has a problem with both the lack of reserves and a Civic Centre not meeting the income forecast contained in it's business plan. Do we wish to continue to support such good causes in Ilkley, plus keeping the Manor House Museum open (for one year only) until a long-term solution can be found? As a local resident the choice is yours, not mine. Paul Latham PPC, Keighley & Ilkley Constituency (and a 30-year local resident) UK Independence Party. pjl20
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Mike19 says...

Kris Hopkins MP has been taken in by the headline percentage figure....he should know better than this and look at the detail and what is behind the proposal .....and then comment!!...P/ Councillor Mike Ridgway
Kris Hopkins MP has been taken in by the headline percentage figure....he should know better than this and look at the detail and what is behind the proposal .....and then comment!!...P/ Councillor Mike Ridgway Mike19
  • Score: -2

4:23pm Fri 14 Feb 14

JohnDrake says...

It would be a lot easier, Councillor, to look at the detail if Ilkley PC published its budgets and accounts. But, as it refuses to (and the minutes to the relevant meeting have yet to appear on the council's website) the headline is all we have to go on.

In reality, this will mean the council tax precept has increased by 200% since it was introduced twelve years ago. That's, frankly, shameful given the circumstances the country has faced over the past half-decade. Unfortunately it's also a sign of the democratic deficit we face in the town as no one will challenge the long-term Tory dominance.
It would be a lot easier, Councillor, to look at the detail if Ilkley PC published its budgets and accounts. But, as it refuses to (and the minutes to the relevant meeting have yet to appear on the council's website) the headline is all we have to go on. In reality, this will mean the council tax precept has increased by 200% since it was introduced twelve years ago. That's, frankly, shameful given the circumstances the country has faced over the past half-decade. Unfortunately it's also a sign of the democratic deficit we face in the town as no one will challenge the long-term Tory dominance. JohnDrake
  • Score: -1

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