Friday, 1 June 2012

Who pays for Nottingham?

When it comes to how much Council Tax is paid by householders in Broxtowe, Gedlng and Nottingham, the information I have compiled clearly shows that the average per property for the financial year 2012/13 is lower in Nottingham and highest in Gedling (see table 3). Since my tables do not include parish rates, there are a good few places in Broxtowe and Gedling paying even higher amounts than my tables show.

The Council Tax information (and some other general information about population and local democracy) in the table below is for 2012/13 and based on information in the public domain, plus replies I received from Ashfield, Broxtowe, Gedling and Nottingham about the number of properties in each Council Tax band. I make no claims for the tables I have compiled other than that they provide a general guide. I would welcome notice of any corrections which may need to be made, but I am confident my compilation is a reliable guide to the situation as it exists at the beginning of June 2012.

I have deliberately excluded the Local Government Settlement paid to councils by central government. Because of the way this is calculated. Nottingham received £542.80 per head (it would have been £550.70 per head had the City Council agreed to a 2012/13 'freeze'); Broxtowe £75.43 and Gedling £78.76 per head at the frozen rate, including a percentage calculation I have added based on the settlement paid to Nottinghamshire County Council. Trying to calculate local government costs is like going into a corridor filled with lots of doors and mirrors and full of smoke. At the end of the day, when folk talk about the cost of local councils they almost, exclusively, refer to the dreaded 'Council Tax'.

Graham Allen, the MP for Nottingham North, has the good habit of reminding listeners whenever he can that most government income is spent locally on local services and that this money should be raised locally. We would all pay considerably less in national taxes, but a lot more in local taxes and, I suspect, the system would be easier to administer and understand to boot, but this is an issue for another day.

'Local democracy' is the subject on my table 6 and shows the number of councillors and voters there are in each of the three districts. Gedling is currently subject to a ward boundary review which should see the number of district councillors reduced by five.

I have asked both Ashfield and Rushcliffe councils for this information in relation to Hucknall, Ruddington and the West Bridgford wards, which I will add when I get their replies. I appreciate that asking people to extract information (even in this age of, seemingly. 'instant' technology) can be time consuming when staff time is limit for obvious reasons.

Nottingham is, in my view, well governed when it comes to strategic policies, services and facilities. Where it fails is at the 'doorstep' / community level. The City Council has a policy of 'cherry picking' communities and groups to be favoured with its largesse. The facts speak for themselves and they crow from the rooftops about how wonderful they are, whilst ignoring the neglect and decay which they allow to fester whilst they ignore matters of importance to the people who spend their lives in neighbourhoods deserving of attention. This is Nottingham's shame.

Nottingham's neighbours manage doorstep services better and, as evidenced by the numerous parish and town councils which exist. Strategically, Nottingham and the County Council do most of the work for them and herein is the lesson Nottingham needs to learn — somehow the City Council has to create mechanisms to get a better balance between its strategic and doorstep work.

I have submitted evidence recently to the Parliamentary Local Government and Communities Committee about the roles of councillors and their place in local communities, which I am not allowed to share until it is formally published by the committee.

For now, I leave you to make of the tables what you will.

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