And a second question to Labour Cabinet Member Trish Hardy

This second question, which I also asked at the Sefton Council meeting last night, is related to Labour’s appalling plan to stop paying a ‘refund’ grant to Maghull, Lydiate & Aintree Village Parish Councils that will mean Council Tax payers in these communities will be paying Sefton Council for a service that it does not provide in those communities and it will be spending the Council Tax money raised in those communities elsewhere in the Borough! This problem arises because in these Parishes parks, gardens and play areas are provided and funded by a Parish Council. However, Sefton Council still collects the same amount of Council Tax in those communities that it collects elsewhere in the Borough where it provides this service.

The sums of money involved are very significant as these two examples illustrate – In Maghull this compensating payment in 2013/14 is £131,000, in Lydiate £46,207. In 2014/15 both figures will be NIL as it will be in Aintree Village and Melling*.

Question – The Parish Charter, available on Sefton Council’s web site, clearly states that the Borough Council aims for ‘Fairness between council tax bills in parished and non-parished areas’

Can the Cabinet member confirm that this fairness principle is still a strong guiding principle for the Borough Council?

This was her response:-

“This Council is committed to treating all the people of Sefton fairly” followed by some party political point scoring.

To which I responded:-

“Will you confirm that removing Double Rating payments from Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Parish Councils means that this Borough will be taking money from the residents of these Parishes and then spending it elsewhere in Sefton thereby treating the Council Tax payers unfairly and with contempt?”

At this point she told me that I should be asking my question to a different Labour Cabinet Member despite the fact that I had been advised by Council Officers that questions about Parish Council matters were within her portfolio! If I suggest that not wishing to engage with the matter in hand was my thought I think you get my drift.

* Note: I should add that this issue also affects the Council Tax payers and their Parish Council in Melling to some extent, although it is slightly more complex in that Parish due to both the Parish Council and Borough Council providing outdoor recreational facilities.

Aintree & Maghull Champion takes up residents being expected to pay twice plan of Sefton Council

http://issuu.com/championnewspapers/docs/131001175426-88439fe4814f4674a99e8a541c340b2b?e=8170351/5053485

I am so pleased that the Champion has decided to highlight this problem which will end up with Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Council tax payers paying twice for a service delivered just the once!

My previous posting of 26th September and others before that refer.

By the way the article says the Labour Leader is inviting me to propose that the Council considers taking forward a judicial review when that is exactly what I did ask them to do at the Council meeting on 18th September.

Maghull Town Council – Will it challenge big brother Sefton?

Lydiate Parish Council, as I posted recently and as many folks also read about in a recent edition of the Aintree & Maghull Champion, has challenged Sefton Council’s plan to stop making ‘Double Rating’ payments to the 4 Parish Councils in the Borough that maintain their own parks and gardens.

Residents should not be paying twice

The challenge is of course right because if Sefton Council goes ahead with its plan Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village residents (and to a lesser extent Melling) will find that they are paying Sefton Council to do a job in their community (maintain parks and gardens) only for that money to be spent by the Borough Council elsewhere in Sefton! This will happen because the 4 Parish Councils covering these communities legitimately raise Council tax money to maintain their park and gardens.

Lib Dem Lydiate leads the fight for fairness

Lydiate is leading the charge for fairness but what will Maghull Town Council do? Will they fight for the money that should be fairly paid to their community or will they follow Bootle Labour Party orders and keep their heads down saying nothing?

Will Labour Maghull put its community first or keep taking orders from Bootle?

It’s a big challenge for Maghull Labour who are used to being told what to do by either Bootle Labour or MP Bill Esterson’s office.

Lydiate Parish Council – Please don’t make our residents pay twice!

Double Rating in Sefton – Lydiate Parish Council’s response to Sefton MBC’s proposal to stop repaying the affected Parish Councils

Dear Sefton Council,

In Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village (and to a lesser extent in Melling Parish – see note below) all of the parks are looked after by the Town or Parish Councils and these Councils charge residents for the cost of doing this, via the Council Tax – the separate ‘parish precept’.

Sefton Council also charges for looking after parks in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village even though it does not deliver any such service in those three communities. This means residents potentially paying twice for having their parks looked after. This is clearly not fair or right so, some years ago, an agreement was reached for Sefton Council to pay these Parish & Town Councils the same per acre that Sefton spends on its own parks, elsewhere in the borough. This stopped residents paying double, so the agreement was called “Double Rating”. In other words Sefton has been returning to these Parishes what it has been taking from them but not spending on their parks.

However, Sefton Council is now planning to scrap the “Double Rating” agreement and the payments it makes to the Parish Councils which maintain their own parks and gardens. This will mean residents paying twice for having their parks looked after. First they will pay their Parish/Town Council for actually maintaining the parks and second they will pay Sefton Council to do nothing to them. Sefton will just take the money it raises in Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village and spend it on parks elsewhere in the Borough.

Lydiate Parish Council’s view is that Sefton Council’s proposal to stop paying back Double Rating money to the affected Parish Councils is clearly unfair and the Borough Council needs to reconsider. If the proposal is carried forward the result will be that Maghull, Lydiate and Aintree Village Council tax payers will be paying twice.

The good news, however, is that Sefton Council does have two quite viable alternative options to resolve this matter without putting the Council tax payers of Lydiate, Maghull and Aintree Village at disadvantage. These options are:-
a) To continue to make the payments but at a lower level commensurate with the reduced standards of grounds maintenance that the Borough has already budgeted for and may well budget for in the future. This option would mean that all of Sefton’s communities would be treated the same by the Borough Council no matter whether the parks and gardens are run by Borough or Parish Council.
b) For Sefton Council to charge a differing level (lower) of Council tax in the Parishes which maintain their own parks and gardens than in the rest of the Borough. This option would stop Sefton Council collecting money in the Parished communities that look after their own parks and gardens and then having to refund the money via the Parish Councils. Doing this would also mean that Council tax payers in the affected Parishes would not be put at a disadvantage.

Simply stopping the repayments to the Parish Councils is unfair and will lead the Borough Council open to the charge that it is raising money in one part of the Borough simply to spend it elsewhere. We contend that this is not a position that the Borough Council should wish to find itself in.

Finally, we would add that we fully appreciate the level of savings the Borough Council has to make; all we ask is that in this case of Double Rating the savings are made fairly.

Yours sincerely

Lydiate Parish Council

*****

Note 1:- Melling Parish is also affected but in Melling there is recreational land provide by both Sefton Council and Melling Parish Council so the situation there is more complex.
Note 2:- The other 6 Parish Councils in the Borough do not own or lease land that is used as parks or for public recreational purposes so ‘Double Rating’ is not an issue for them.

Sefton’s Parishes are being not being treated fairly

I have long campaigned for fair funding for the parts of Sefton that have Parish Councils, and am concerned that Sefton’s cuts do not adversely impact on the 4 Parish Councils that look after their own parks i.e. Aintree Village, Lydiate, Maghull and to a lesser extent Melling.

My concerns follow winning a battle for fair funding in 2009 when Sefton, finally agreed to pay to each of these Parish Councils an amount per acre that matched what Sefton paid out to maintain its own parks. For years the Parishes had been short changed because the Borough took tax from Council tax payers of these parishes but had not returned a fair amount to their Parish Councils.

My present concern is that, due to cut backs by the now Labour run Council, the 4 Parish Councils had been told to expect a 12.5% reduction in the return payments. However, it turns out that Sefton has actually been considering a cut of around 25%. What’s more this was not communicated to Melling, Lydiate and Aintree Village Parish Councils before they set their budgets for 2013/14!

This is a terrible way to treat the Parish Councils and how with 3 Labour Parish/Town Councillors on Sefton’s Cabinet did no one at the Borough Council know that Parish Councils usually set their budgets in January. Consulting with them after they have set their legal budget is simply not on.

We all know times are tough because of Labour and bankers ruining our economy but it is important that Parish Councils, which are grass roots of local democracy, are not trampled all over in the desperate rush to make savings.