Hall or nothing

BLUNTISHAM is the most expensive parish in Huntingdonshire to pay Council Tax. Residents will be charged up to £235.48 a year from April on top of tax paid to Cambridgeshire County Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and the police and fire authorit

BLUNTISHAM is the most expensive parish in Huntingdonshire to pay Council Tax.

Residents will be charged up to £235.48 a year from April on top of tax paid to Cambridgeshire County Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and the police and fire authorities.

Bluntisham's parish clerk, Sue Morgan, said the high level of precept was purely to pay for the new village hall.

The village is repaying £58,000 every year for 25 years, from 2002, on a loan of £800,000. But next year's precept is actually four per cent lower than 2007/08.

No other parish council yet tops the £200 top-band precept, although neighbouring Holywell-cum-Needingworth comes close at £190.82.

Benchmark Band D properties attract rates of £117.74 in Bluntisham and £95.41 in Holywell.

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It means Bluntisham Parish Council will actually be costing its residents more money than Huntingdonshire District Council (£115.39 for Band D), which collects refuse and recycling, provides planning services and leisure centres, administers social housing and regulates environmental health.

Although HDC collects the tax for all the authorities, it gets only 8.4 per cent of the money.

Parish councils, where they exist, are responsible for cemeteries and whatever else they decide to do that is not someone else's statutory responsibility.

Eleven parishes in Huntingdonshire have no parish councils, either because they are too small or because, like St Neots Rural, they cannot find sufficient people to volunteer for election to make up a quorum.

Of those that do make a charge, Yelling is the cheapest place to live (£10.87 a year for a Band D property), followed by Old Weston, Toseland and Hamerton.

The county council was expected to agree yesterday (Tuesday) to increase its precept by five per cent, and HDC is expected to match that with 4.99 per cent this afternoon. Fire services will cost 3.9 per cent more and the police an extra five per cent.

It means Band D householders will pay a total of £1,305.82 in 2008/09 plus whatever their parish council levies. Owners of the 300 properties in Band H will pay twice as much.

Unlike the other four components of Council Tax, parish precepts are not subject to capping by Ministers.

South Cambridgeshire District Council's cabinet is to recommend an increase of 4.9 per cent to the full council meeting on February 28.

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