Double taxation warning over services
Fears have been raised that residents of one North Wales county could be hit with double taxation as the authority looks to save money.
Conwy Council could get smaller town and community councils to take up more responsibilities as it tries to deal with its cash crisis.
The local authority is facing a £12.5m budget black hole and has already warned that there will have to be cuts to services.
Now smaller town and community councils could have to take on some of the work currently done by the county council.
Areas listed by Conwy that could be handed over included playgrounds, paddling pools, public toilets, community libraries, CCTV, car parks and local events.
A report to members of the economy and place committee which will consider the issue on Wednesday looked to neighbouring Gwynedd on how the changes could be implemented.
But Colwyn Bay county councillor Chris Hughes slammed the move, saying it would just lead to higher taxes.
He said: “They tried this before but it was knocked back. I just think it’s wrong.
“People are already paying their council tax once and if town and community councils are to take this on then they are going to have to put up their precept for it because it won’t be in the budget.
“Anything they do, they’re going to have to increase taxes or people are going to lose services.
“It will be almost impossible for town and community councils to take on additional services without increasing taxes and people who are already paying their taxes shouldn’t have to pay twice for the same service.”
The report used the example of the Bala area, where community councils work together to commission services such as grass cutting, footpath maintenance, bus shelter upkeep and street furniture by way of tendering the work and jointly funding.
Members of the committee will look into how town and community councils can shoulder some of the services that the county council currently carries out.
Conwy’s deputy leader, Cllr Goronwy Edwards, said: I welcome this report and the work done in its preparation.
“I look forward to the opportunities that may arise from having meaningful conversations, based on accurate financial information and current service costs.”
Cllr Chris Cater, the cabinet member for governance and performance, said: “The next town and community council forum is on October 16.
“It is vital that consultation can go forward with our partners so that any financial and practical support from them, which ensures the continuation of certain local services, can be put in place.
“They will want specific costings and full dialogue about the variables and possible alternatives. This should be done in plenty of time before precepts are set.”
By Shane Brennan – Local Democracy Reporter
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