DUNCAN BARKES: Hard man Ray’s spot-on about the tax man...

YOU would not want to upset Ray Winstone, but right now the hard man actor is not happy.

Ray believes ‘Britain is being raped by high taxes’ and is considering quitting the country.

While his use of the word ‘raped’ is open to question, the general sentiment is spot-on. Big Ray says the government is taking too much for too little. Referring to the taxman he said: “What does he give you back? You drive down the road, it’s got more holes than a tennis racquet, there are no hospitals and the fire stations are closing down.”

The UK may not as be as bad as France with its proposed 75 per cent tax rate on those earning more than one million euros, but we are pretty well clobbered when it comes to handing over chunks of our hard-earned cash to the government or council.

In this newspaper alone there have been many stories about funding cuts affecting thousands of people. Local services are being cut as a result of the government giving less to local councils to spend, but we still pay a fair whack.

Perhaps the priorities are wrong? In Chichester the tourist information outlet in South Street (the gateway into the city from the bus and train station) was closed to save cash, yet hundreds of thousands of pounds were spent on The Novium museum which one has to pay to enter.

Ironically the new museum now houses the tourist information facility. Tucked away in the museum, itself situated in a side street, visitors no longer benefit from the resource being an easy ‘straight-on’ direction from the bus or train station.

Potholes litter the roads in Worthing and elsewhere, but West Sussex County Council seems unable to stay on top of this suspension-buckling problem. But they find the money to fund speed monitoring trials in roads around the town to keep the local ‘20’s Plenty’ campaigners happy.

These are just two examples that make me wonder if residents are getting value for their council tax.

Oh, and what about last week when, as the snow and ice brought many parts of the county to a standstill, gritters were rarer than hens’ teeth?

Tax is a necessary evil but maybe Ray has a point. Do you think you’re getting value for money when it comes to paying council tax?