Recently, meetings of the Boston Town Area Committee BTAC have gone hand in hand with requests for members to fund projects which by the council’s own definition should be paid from central rather than “parish” funds.
Lately, we’ve seen the near doubling of this year’s council tax precept to start a kitty for the benefit of the Preposterous Boston Task and Finish Group, and the allocation of £35,000 for decorative street lighting in December. This is not to be confused with Christmas lights, as the money is for Project Illuminate – which is counting the days until 2020 when the good ship Mayflower reached the Cape Cod having set off from Plymouth with a 102 pilgrims aboard – none of them remotely connected to Boston.
But the money mentioned above pales into insignificance when compared with the demands being suggested tonight, which total £323,190 – for which the lion’s share is funding the public toilets at £179,000, and Central Park at £123,350.
The money wanted represents a 100% increase in the rate for a Band D property.
A constitutional document for BTAC in the public domain says the only items which can legally be charged are those provided exclusively or mainly for its residents, and that when the wider population use facilities they are properly subject to “the council wide council tax.”
However, it appears that this was conveniently tweaked a while ago and is being meddled with still further even as we speak, and that BTAC’s powers and responsibilities may well be “extended and enhanced” even more. A licence to rob Peter to pay Paul. Expect more big council tax increases in the years to come.
Whilst we accept that Worst Street has a cash flow problem – this should not be allowed to supersede the responsibility of the council to the people it claims to serve.
The cost of BTAC is borne by some of the poorest and most deprived wards in the country – let alone Boston, and it is wrong to use them as a cash cow.
If the council lack the skills at officer and member level to create new ideas for funding, then it should find the people who can, and not stoop to daylight robbery.
Another point worth considering is whether there are cuts which could be made which might yet rescue the facilities that need saving before taking the easy way out and billing the taxpayers.
For instance, in some areas, Worst Street is cutting back to the minimum requirement under health and safety rules.
Yet whilst it regularly declares that it has no statutory responsibility to provide toilet facilities, it is clearly scared stiff of doing away with them
Meanwhile, it still sees nothing wrong with offering free parking perks to staff and councillors worth £100,000 a year, and funding the mayoral office to the tune of a further £80,000.
Flushing away these two items alone would cover the cost of keeping the public toilets!
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