A tiny parish council has come under fire for demanding thousands of pounds more from residents.
At a meeting earlier this month Rottingdean Parish Council voted to increase the annual amount of cash it requests from taxpayers to £45,000 – a steep rise of more than 66% since 2011.
One angry resident said the rise was “worrying” but the council’s deputy chairman defended the decision as “quite reasonable”.
By law parish councils are allowed to raise their precept as much as they want, while district and borough councils must not raise tax by more than 2%.
Councillor Ken Humphreys, Rottingdean’s deputy chairman, admitted the council’s fear that parish precepts might be capped for the first time next year had influenced the decision to boost taxpayer takings.
He said: “There’s no doubt that the possibility of a cap next year meant the council was keen to put the rate up.
“But this money is also much needed. There’s the new toilets being repaired on the seafront and we have to pay about 50 to 60% of that.
“The only way we can get these toilets repaired is if we shell out for it.”
Difficult to justify
But Coun Humphreys, who abstained from the vote, also suggested it was difficult to justify demanding more money from hard-pressed residents.
He said: “I disagreed with the rate going up last year but I was outvoted so I have gone with the majority. That’s democracy.
“But I did think that we should keep the precept the same, because we do have quite a bit in the bank and people are finding it tough at the moment, even if we are asking for quite a small amount of money.”
The council was plunged into turmoil in October last year when it lost nearly half its nine members, as well as its clerk, due to resignations.
One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “It is very worrying that the parish council can set any amount it wishes to be collected from residents of Rottingdean parish.
“Last April the parish council promised the rise would be a one off. Residents cannot refuse to pay this extra money.”
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