The great Brighton and Hove council tax debate: Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald wants a freeze

The great council tax debate: Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald wants a freeze

The great council tax debate: Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald wants a freeze

First published in News
Last updated

It is quite clear to me when I’m out and about in the city talking to residents, that there is absolutely no appetite for a council tax rise of any kind – let alone one more than double the rate of inflation.

After mortgage or rent payments, council tax is the biggest monthly bill that most people have and, as councillors, I believe that we have a duty to keep it as low as possible.

Council tax levels nationally and in Brighton and Hove more than doubled under the previous Labour Government and the Labour administration that ran the council for much of that time regularly imposed double-digit increases.


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The current Conservative-led Government has recognised just how damaging this has been to hard-pressed residents and has offered councils extra money to enable them to freeze council tax for each of the last four years – totalling well over £10 million here in Brighton and Hove.

It is simply perverse of the Green administration, backed last year by the Labour Group, to continue turning it down.

This referendum has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘protecting services for the vulnerable’ as Coun Kitcat claims.

Rather, it is a desperate last minute bid by him to appease members of the Green Group who would have voted against their original budget proposals.

There is still plenty of scope to make the required savings and maintain, or even improve, services without going cap in hand to the council taxpayer.

The council’s independent auditors continue to say that our services are expensive compared to other similar councils.

So, I urge the Labour Group to support us in delivering what would be a very welcome council tax freeze for residents.

Ed Miliband likes to talk up the so-called ‘cost of living crisis’ – so, it would be hypocritical in the extreme for them to spurn this golden opportunity to actually do something about it.

Comments (7)

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1:48pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Valerie Paynter says...

Lots of whining and no information!

The bribe for freezing tax is taken by some councils but not all. And if raising tax means getting in more than the bribe is worth, then the council is raising the rate by up to the 2% maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered. It is the coalition Govt that forces this. Dictates.

I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy then for free bus passes for the elderly and disabled to be withdrawn and no longer offered, paid for out of parking fees. This of course means not going out and about and spending in the shops and cafes, hairdressers, etc. as now as the money for buses would cut into that. Never mind. They don't need the trade do they....much!

I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy for the currently vicious and catastrophic withdrawal of home helps from elderly and disabled people to be cut even deeper so that people are forced out of their homes and into even more expensive residential care? Paid for out of taxes. So the general income tax rate would have to go up (countrywide).

Why isn't the Coalition removing the tax exemption from the large number of wealthy students - many of whom are rich enough to be running expensive cars and spending freely otherwise in the city. Time was a student used the subsidised union bar, bicycles, old bangers and public transport.
Lots of whining and no information! The bribe for freezing tax is taken by some councils but not all. And if raising tax means getting in more than the bribe is worth, then the council is raising the rate by up to the 2% maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered. It is the coalition Govt that forces this. Dictates. I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy then for free bus passes for the elderly and disabled to be withdrawn and no longer offered, paid for out of parking fees. This of course means not going out and about and spending in the shops and cafes, hairdressers, etc. as now as the money for buses would cut into that. Never mind. They don't need the trade do they....much! I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy for the currently vicious and catastrophic withdrawal of home helps from elderly and disabled people to be cut even deeper so that people are forced out of their homes and into even more expensive residential care? Paid for out of taxes. So the general income tax rate would have to go up (countrywide). Why isn't the Coalition removing the tax exemption from the large number of wealthy students - many of whom are rich enough to be running expensive cars and spending freely otherwise in the city. Time was a student used the subsidised union bar, bicycles, old bangers and public transport. Valerie Paynter
  • Score: -2

2:19pm Thu 23 Jan 14

leftysmellbags says...

I think that it is correct to freeze the council tax. There is so much wastage, efficiency needs to be the way forward. We should cut the high earning salaries by 20% for a start. We should also cut the amount of consultancy fees we are willing to pay. All building projects should be open to all for quotes and not just limited to the one or two firms that are tied to either the present or past councillors. These building firms probably double or triple the true cost as they know they will get the job anyway.
I think that it is correct to freeze the council tax. There is so much wastage, efficiency needs to be the way forward. We should cut the high earning salaries by 20% for a start. We should also cut the amount of consultancy fees we are willing to pay. All building projects should be open to all for quotes and not just limited to the one or two firms that are tied to either the present or past councillors. These building firms probably double or triple the true cost as they know they will get the job anyway. leftysmellbags
  • Score: 10

3:43pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Richada says...

I agree with everything that you say with regards to savings etc and appreciate that there are a great number of Brighton & Hove residents who will be extremely hard hit by any increase at all.

However, I think modest annual increases (2% maximum say) should be allowed. At some stage, following any freeze, there will have be a big hike in charges - as the current administration are attempting to impose currently - which will always hit much harder than a small, annual rise. This is the situation that we have found with our energy bills, fix for two or three years, then face a 10 or 15% increase at the end of the fixed period, the far greater increment is much harder to meet than the annual, much smaller one.

Looking at the chaos the current administration have caused in this city, particularly with regard to the services that we all use - one wonders if the ONLY way out of this mess wouldn't be to sub-contract services to private firms - not because anybody actually WANTS to, but because the clueless council has left us with no option but to do so in order to provide the services that we are paying for........

......indeed one wonders if the whole city wouldn't be more efficient privately run - anything to get away from the same tired old party political point scoring that serves us so badly and the majority of us are so fed up with!

Both yourself and Cllr Morgan need to remember that the very reason the Greens were elected was that people were so disenchanted with the existing set up that they sought any option which they felt would take us away from bickering party politics in local government. The fact that the Greens let us down so badly does not mean that Conservative or Labour have won any kind of victory here.
I agree with everything that you say with regards to savings etc and appreciate that there are a great number of Brighton & Hove residents who will be extremely hard hit by any increase at all. However, I think modest annual increases (2% maximum say) should be allowed. At some stage, following any freeze, there will have be a big hike in charges - as the current administration are attempting to impose currently - which will always hit much harder than a small, annual rise. This is the situation that we have found with our energy bills, fix for two or three years, then face a 10 or 15% increase at the end of the fixed period, the far greater increment is much harder to meet than the annual, much smaller one. Looking at the chaos the current administration have caused in this city, particularly with regard to the services that we all use - one wonders if the ONLY way out of this mess wouldn't be to sub-contract services to private firms - not because anybody actually WANTS to, but because the clueless council has left us with no option but to do so in order to provide the services that we are paying for........ ......indeed one wonders if the whole city wouldn't be more efficient privately run - anything to get away from the same tired old party political point scoring that serves us so badly and the majority of us are so fed up with! Both yourself and Cllr Morgan need to remember that the very reason the Greens were elected was that people were so disenchanted with the existing set up that they sought any option which they felt would take us away from bickering party politics in local government. The fact that the Greens let us down so badly does not mean that Conservative or Labour have won any kind of victory here. Richada
  • Score: 2

4:19pm Thu 23 Jan 14

bug eye says...

anyone who owns a leasehold flat will know service charges remain the same most years and goes up occasionally, so like that, there should only be a hike in council tax if a large job needs doing such as the seafront arches and then reduced again the next year. students should pay a certain amount I would say 50%, a good deal for all, and I would like to know what has happened to the vast amount of money taken by the council from student landlords for licensing, and enforced home improvements over the last year, without any improvement to rubbish collection or noise control from the council. Finally other councils are using new technology for road surfacing that are cheaper and more effective yet we are not and so still have diabolical roads. so I agree money can be saved and there is too much waste, once this is sorted out the council could probably run a credit. we need new ideas and more for less please Geoff.
anyone who owns a leasehold flat will know service charges remain the same most years and goes up occasionally, so like that, there should only be a hike in council tax if a large job needs doing such as the seafront arches and then reduced again the next year. students should pay a certain amount I would say 50%, a good deal for all, and I would like to know what has happened to the vast amount of money taken by the council from student landlords for licensing, and enforced home improvements over the last year, without any improvement to rubbish collection or noise control from the council. Finally other councils are using new technology for road surfacing that are cheaper and more effective yet we are not and so still have diabolical roads. so I agree money can be saved and there is too much waste, once this is sorted out the council could probably run a credit. we need new ideas and more for less please Geoff. bug eye
  • Score: 5

5:45pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Richada says...

bug eye wrote:
anyone who owns a leasehold flat will know service charges remain the same most years and goes up occasionally, so like that, there should only be a hike in council tax if a large job needs doing such as the seafront arches and then reduced again the next year. students should pay a certain amount I would say 50%, a good deal for all, and I would like to know what has happened to the vast amount of money taken by the council from student landlords for licensing, and enforced home improvements over the last year, without any improvement to rubbish collection or noise control from the council. Finally other councils are using new technology for road surfacing that are cheaper and more effective yet we are not and so still have diabolical roads. so I agree money can be saved and there is too much waste, once this is sorted out the council could probably run a credit. we need new ideas and more for less please Geoff.
Your suggestion re. the students is an excellent one. If they have a local vote it is not unreasonable to expect them to contribute financially.

More effort should be made to collect the money owed from previous years too £16M I believe has been quoted - we hear nothing about the council pursuing this.
[quote][p][bold]bug eye[/bold] wrote: anyone who owns a leasehold flat will know service charges remain the same most years and goes up occasionally, so like that, there should only be a hike in council tax if a large job needs doing such as the seafront arches and then reduced again the next year. students should pay a certain amount I would say 50%, a good deal for all, and I would like to know what has happened to the vast amount of money taken by the council from student landlords for licensing, and enforced home improvements over the last year, without any improvement to rubbish collection or noise control from the council. Finally other councils are using new technology for road surfacing that are cheaper and more effective yet we are not and so still have diabolical roads. so I agree money can be saved and there is too much waste, once this is sorted out the council could probably run a credit. we need new ideas and more for less please Geoff.[/p][/quote]Your suggestion re. the students is an excellent one. If they have a local vote it is not unreasonable to expect them to contribute financially. More effort should be made to collect the money owed from previous years too £16M I believe has been quoted - we hear nothing about the council pursuing this. Richada
  • Score: 6

6:56pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Quiterie says...

Valerie Paynter wrote:
Lots of whining and no information!

The bribe for freezing tax is taken by some councils but not all. And if raising tax means getting in more than the bribe is worth, then the council is raising the rate by up to the 2% maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered. It is the coalition Govt that forces this. Dictates.

I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy then for free bus passes for the elderly and disabled to be withdrawn and no longer offered, paid for out of parking fees. This of course means not going out and about and spending in the shops and cafes, hairdressers, etc. as now as the money for buses would cut into that. Never mind. They don't need the trade do they....much!

I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy for the currently vicious and catastrophic withdrawal of home helps from elderly and disabled people to be cut even deeper so that people are forced out of their homes and into even more expensive residential care? Paid for out of taxes. So the general income tax rate would have to go up (countrywide).

Why isn't the Coalition removing the tax exemption from the large number of wealthy students - many of whom are rich enough to be running expensive cars and spending freely otherwise in the city. Time was a student used the subsidised union bar, bicycles, old bangers and public transport.
Cllr Theobald makes it very clear where the savings would come from Val.... "The council’s independent auditors continue to say that our services are expensive compared to other similar councils"..... "There is still plenty of scope to make the required savings".

And never mind targeting wealthy students. Let's strip wealthy pensioners of all the perks they enjoy...... free television licences and the winter fuel allowance, and I agree with you that free bus passes should also go.... remember we're all in it together!
[quote][p][bold]Valerie Paynter[/bold] wrote: Lots of whining and no information! The bribe for freezing tax is taken by some councils but not all. And if raising tax means getting in more than the bribe is worth, then the council is raising the rate by up to the 2% maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered. It is the coalition Govt that forces this. Dictates. I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy then for free bus passes for the elderly and disabled to be withdrawn and no longer offered, paid for out of parking fees. This of course means not going out and about and spending in the shops and cafes, hairdressers, etc. as now as the money for buses would cut into that. Never mind. They don't need the trade do they....much! I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy for the currently vicious and catastrophic withdrawal of home helps from elderly and disabled people to be cut even deeper so that people are forced out of their homes and into even more expensive residential care? Paid for out of taxes. So the general income tax rate would have to go up (countrywide). Why isn't the Coalition removing the tax exemption from the large number of wealthy students - many of whom are rich enough to be running expensive cars and spending freely otherwise in the city. Time was a student used the subsidised union bar, bicycles, old bangers and public transport.[/p][/quote]Cllr Theobald makes it very clear where the savings would come from Val.... "The council’s independent auditors continue to say that our services are expensive compared to other similar councils"..... "There is still plenty of scope to make the required savings". And never mind targeting wealthy students. Let's strip wealthy pensioners of all the perks they enjoy...... free television licences and the winter fuel allowance, and I agree with you that free bus passes should also go.... remember we're all in it together! Quiterie
  • Score: 3

9:15pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Gribbet says...

Valerie Paynter wrote:
Lots of whining and no information!

The bribe for freezing tax is taken by some councils but not all. And if raising tax means getting in more than the bribe is worth, then the council is raising the rate by up to the 2% maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered. It is the coalition Govt that forces this. Dictates.

I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy then for free bus passes for the elderly and disabled to be withdrawn and no longer offered, paid for out of parking fees. This of course means not going out and about and spending in the shops and cafes, hairdressers, etc. as now as the money for buses would cut into that. Never mind. They don't need the trade do they....much!

I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy for the currently vicious and catastrophic withdrawal of home helps from elderly and disabled people to be cut even deeper so that people are forced out of their homes and into even more expensive residential care? Paid for out of taxes. So the general income tax rate would have to go up (countrywide).

Why isn't the Coalition removing the tax exemption from the large number of wealthy students - many of whom are rich enough to be running expensive cars and spending freely otherwise in the city. Time was a student used the subsidised union bar, bicycles, old bangers and public transport.
...and free government student grants.
[quote][p][bold]Valerie Paynter[/bold] wrote: Lots of whining and no information! The bribe for freezing tax is taken by some councils but not all. And if raising tax means getting in more than the bribe is worth, then the council is raising the rate by up to the 2% maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered. It is the coalition Govt that forces this. Dictates. I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy then for free bus passes for the elderly and disabled to be withdrawn and no longer offered, paid for out of parking fees. This of course means not going out and about and spending in the shops and cafes, hairdressers, etc. as now as the money for buses would cut into that. Never mind. They don't need the trade do they....much! I take it that Cllr Theobald is happy for the currently vicious and catastrophic withdrawal of home helps from elderly and disabled people to be cut even deeper so that people are forced out of their homes and into even more expensive residential care? Paid for out of taxes. So the general income tax rate would have to go up (countrywide). Why isn't the Coalition removing the tax exemption from the large number of wealthy students - many of whom are rich enough to be running expensive cars and spending freely otherwise in the city. Time was a student used the subsidised union bar, bicycles, old bangers and public transport.[/p][/quote]...and free government student grants. Gribbet
  • Score: 1

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