Gloucestershire parish councils benefit from tax rise

Parish and town councils in Gloucestershire will get over £550,000 more in council tax this year.

Unlike the county, district and borough councils, not all parish and town councils chose to freeze taxes and some have increased charges.

Last year, £7.38m was collected by the bottom tier of local council but this will rise to £7.93m, for 2011/12.

Gloucestershire has 264 town and parish councils which fund the likes of allotments and bus shelter maintenance.

Many of the parish councils are taking on more responsibility as cuts are imposed by the county's larger authorities.

Leckhampton with Warden Hill Parish Council, in Cheltenham, raised its part of council tax by 23% - an additional £1.59 a month for each of the parish's 3,766 residents.

'Nasty surprise'

Council chairman Paul Ryder, said: "We have an excellent finance committee and it was being highlighted, even before government told us we were all going to have to pay that little bit more, that we were going to have to find money to pay for such things as grass cutting and children's play areas."

The Gloucestershire Association of Parish and Town Councils (GAPTC) said it was a mixed picture across Gloucestershire with some parish councils increasing rates whilst others froze or even decreased them.

Kim Bedford, of GAPTC, said: "A lot of it depends upon the activities and expectation that you want from your town and parish council.

"There is great encouragement for councils to involve parishioners in the rise and the services they provide," she added.

The campaign manager for the Taxpayers Alliance, Robert Oxley, said he thought this would come as a "nasty surprise" to residents.

"Parish and town councils will have increased powers and we welcome the fact that residents will have a greater say in many things, but this shouldn't be used as an excuse to increase local tax to local residents," he said.

Earlier this year however, residents in Wotton-under-Edge voted in favour of paying £13-a-year more council tax to secure the future of their local swimming pool.

The 50-year-old pool risked closure last year after Stroud District Council could no longer afford to run it and had to hand it back to the town council.

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