Council tax is frozen across Chichester district

Aerial view of Chichester
Aerial view of Chichester
  • West Sussex County Council and Chichester District council freeze tax
  • Sussex Police raises tax share by 1.98 per cent
  • Parishes raise precepts on average by six per cent

AUTHORITIES across the Chichester district have set their precepts for 2015/16 and the average Band D taxpayer can expect bills of around £1,494 through their letter boxes

An eleventh hour call was made to increase the district council’s portion of the tax in a bid to support the tourist industry but it was quashed by the ruling Tories.

It means the average home in the district will be paying £140.81 in council tax to Chichester District Council.

Those living in a band-D property can now expect to receive a total bill of around £1,494 through their letter box.

Independent Gordon McAra urged at a full meeting of Chichester District Council to drop plans for a council tax freeze and instead raise it by 1.99 per cent – just short of the two per cent threshold which could trigger a referendum.

Cllr McAra said the small raise, which amounted to 5p a week, or £2.81 a year, would enable tourism to flourish.

We are not spending our money, we are spending the people’s money and they have been through some hard times lately. This is a good opportunity to freeze the tax.

“I believe this council should put aside a modest amount of money to look at the work we can do to improve the visitor infrastructure,” he said.

He cited major tourist attractions such as Selsey, Bosham, the Witterings, Bracklesham Bay, Petworth and Midhurst.

“There are 5.2 million day trips bringing in £144m to the district, 1.3 million people stay overnight, supporting 7,500 jobs in the district,” he said. “Tourism is a major part of employment here. It really is important that we as a council look at this seriously.

“By not raising council tax you are placing this council in the path of jeopardy. It’s not a tremendous amount of money but it could have a tremendous impact on this district council.”

He had the support of independent Andrew Shaxson and Liberal Democrats Quentin Cox, Anne Scicluna and Clare Apel, who also voted against freezing the council tax.

Cllr Shaxson said: “I think we have to invest in the future after May 7. We don’t know what is going to happen, we know we are not likely to get monies from any government.

“I don’t know why we are not raising the council tax other than the fact that there is an election in two month’s time.”

But Conservative Tricia Tull said: “We are not spending our money, we are spending the people’s money and they have been through some hard times lately.

“This is a good opportunity to freeze the tax.”

Although the county council, which takes the largest share of the tax cake, and the district are freezing their portion, council tax payers will see a slight rise in the police slice. An average of six per cent is being levied for towns and parishes who are increasingly picking up the cost of providing services axed by higher authorities.

Freeze at county and district

WEST Sussex County Council takes by far the largest slice of the council tax cake.

Although it has frozen its share of the council tax, it still has a precept of £58,685,375.36 – with the average occupant of a band-D property paying £1,161,99. The county council currently receives £17m of income a year from charges for services including car parking, trade waste and leisure income.

Meanwhile, the average band-D taxpayer will pay around £140.81 to Chichester District Council.

Increasing the district council tax share by two per cent would have generated £142,000 a year – £600,000 over a five-year period. However, the council chose to forego a rise, claiming it had a healthy level of reserves and was in a ‘surplus’ position for 2015-16.

CDC will receive a council tax freeze grant of £77,616 from the government.

Council tax bills across Chichester towns and parishes

WITH a number of big projects and neighbourhood plans springing up across the district, several areas will see a hike in the slice of the 2015/16 council tax bill paid to parish councils.

The average band-D taxpayer in Earnley will see a rise of 13.5 per cent this year, with the parish precept going from £35.93 to £40.77.

One of the biggest increases in the district is West Itchenor, where villagers will see a 27.9 per cent increase in the parish budget, taking its share of the bill from £38.62 to £49.40.

Another big increase comes in East Wittering and Bracklesham – with an 18.7 per cent rise, from £57.67 to £68.48.

This will cover improved coastal protection and the provision for initial take-over costs of the youth club building.

Westhampnett’s share of the council tax bill will increase by 18 per cent.

Westhampnett Parish Council said the budget would increase to pay for contested elections in May, the neighbourhood plan, training for new councillors and printing of its newsletter, which had always been done free of charge.

“Although the current year is likely to show an under spend against budget, the need to make provision in 
2015-16 for some unavoidable items, means the council’s reserves would be depleted, hence the need to increase the precept by a prudent amount to maintain the council’s financial position, whilst still undertaking important work for the community,” said a statement.

In Sidlesham, the parish budget has risen by 13.6 per cent, while in Southbourne it has gone up by 15.9 per cent.

But there is good news for Fishbourne residents, where the parish precept has gone down by 11.5 per cent.

Council tax bills across Midhurst and Petworth parishes

IN the north of the Downs there were several rises but it is Petworth taxpayers who will see the biggest change in their bills this year – with a 53.6 per cent increase in the parish precept.

Both Midhurst and Petworth have raised their precepts to help provide community facilities.

Petworth’s share of the council tax has risen for the average band-D taxpayer from £42.61 to £65.43.

The Midhurst slice of the cake has gone from £46.51 a year to £51.90 – an 11.6 per cent increase, partly to fund the management of the town council’s new base and community facility at the old library.

Chairman of Petworth Town Council’s finance committee Alan Copus said the precept will be spent on maintaining services in the town. “This year’s budget is almost entirely spent on the day-to-day costs to maintain existing services and support for them,” he said.

“There is no capacity for any significant expenditure on new or replacement equipment and services.

“The council’s existing financial reserves are virtually all committed to provision of the very important neighbourhood plan.”

Elsewhere in the north of the district, Graffham’s council tax has gone from £24.49 to £29.12 – a 19 per cent hike, while another large increase came from Rogate – where the band-D taxpayer will now pay £38.74 – a 30.9 per cent rise from the £29.60 they paid last year.

West Lavington’s bill has also risen by 18.6 per cent, but East Lavington’s has gone down by nearly 14 per cent.

Kirdford taxpayers will now pay £99.86, an 18 per cent rise up from the £84.85 they paid last year.

This comes after the parish put the finishing touches to its neighbourhood plan –becoming one of the first villages in the country to do so.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

THE second biggest slice of the tax cake this year goes to Sussex Police.

The police and crime commissioner is raising the precept by 1.98 per cent on last year, which will see £143.91 added to the band-D taxpayer’s bill.

This means average taxpayers will pay an additional £2.79 for policing per year, per household (for a band-D property).

This increase comes in the wake of plans to change the way the service operates. Measures are being made to improve the force’s ability to tackle issues such as child sexual exploitation and incidents of online crime, which will require additional funding.