THE article advising that HDC Council Tax could rise by up to 20 per cent in 2012 (November 3) is bad news for all Council Tax payers, whether individual tax payers or local businesses.

THE article advising that HDC Council Tax could rise by up to 20 per cent in 2012 (November 3) is bad news for all Council Tax payers, whether individual tax payers or local businesses.

It shows that the council has no comprehension of how the people of this country are being hit, not only by government cuts, but by increasing fuel and food prices, when their incomes have also suffered through pay freezes or reductions and virtually no income on any savings they may have.

In addition, we face an increase in VAT from January 2011. We simply cannot afford this level of increase.

Now the good news: the Government, through the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, announced on July 30 2010 that the public would be given the power to veto excessive Council Tax rises. A consultation document was published on July 30 2010 and can be found at http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/localgovernment/1658244

This web page states: “The new Government has already committed to help councils to freeze Council Tax. In parallel, steps are now being taken to help prevent bills skyrocketing down the line by giving local people the final say in a vote on excessive increases.

“This will replace top-down Council Tax capping by Whitehall, which gave no choice to local residents.

“Under the new proposals laid out in a technical consultation today, any council that set its Council Tax increase above a set ceiling, approved in a democratic and transparent manner by Parliament each year, would trigger an automatic referendum of all registered electors in their area.

“Residents would be asked to choose between the proposed rise and a ‘shadow budget’, which the council must also prepare within the defined limit. A no vote would leave councils having to refund taxpayers or give a credit at the end of the tax year.”

These proposals would mean councils have to defend their budget decisions and bill increases to the local electorate instead of Whitehall.

Eric Pickles said: “Hardworking families and pensioners were left feeling powerless and frustrated in the past 13 years, as Council Tax bills doubled while their frontline services like weekly bin collections were halved.

“If councils want to increase Council Tax further, they will have to prove the case to the electorate. Let the people decide.

“The new Government is committed to a review of local government resource, but such reforms must go hand in hand with measures to protect the interests of local taxpayers.

“This is a radical extension of direct democracy, as part of a wider programme of decentralising power to local communities. Power should not just be given to councils, but be devolved further down to neighbourhoods and citizens.”

ANTHONY BARRACLOUGH

Burleigh Road

St Ives