Jim Thornton's Election Blog - "what would I do about Council Tax?"

Submitted on Thu, 14/05/2009 - 10:22am

My election campaign is now in full swing and I have been contacted by a voter who wanted to know my stance on reducing council tax.  This is a difficult issue to tackle but here are my thoughts;

"I've read your polices on the East Herts People web site and one area of concern to me is notable by it's absence, namely Council Tax. Ensuring our tax is spent efficiently and that bureaucracy is cut back is all well and good, but, if elected, would you actively seek to use whatever influence you have in trying to reduce the overall level of spending to enable council tax to come down? "

Yes I would, as I did try to do at East Herts, but it is difficult as the amount of money over which each Council (County, District and Town) has direct control is less than you would think. Central Government has consistently put legal obligations on Local Councils while failing to provide the funding to carry out these obligations. The major parties are reluctant to fight Central Government in case a General Election puts the boot on the other foot; I really do think that Independents have a role to play here in challenging Central Government. However, the Officers will tell you that if you rock the boat, you get less funding, so it is self-defeating; I am not convinced this is entirely true, and may be more about Officer's concerns about their career paths.

In my view the area to look for savings is in the Council Office, which means some form of zero-base budgetting exercise. It also means an ability to stand up to Officers who look to implement some of the barmier Central Government requirements, or at least look for ways to delay implementation, as my experience is that they often go out of fashion and the money is wasted. So a policy of looking at the big picture - what really benefits the voters of East Herts coupled with: can we get away without doing this and without losing funding - seems to me to be what the Independents can bring to the party.

Most Councillors are not numerate, so I have seen out-sourcing to 'save' money which does no such thing. Again, with the ability to speak in public, rather than ranting behind close doors, I believe Independents can punch above their weight.

If you have any questions about my proposals or want to know how I would tackle the big issues at County Council level then contact me at jim.thornton@ehpeople.org


Jim Thornton

Independent candidate for Hertford St Andrews



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