Dear Sir,

‘Double Taxation’ is the money we pay out of our County Council Tax to provide parish-level services in the unparished areas of the County … on top of the Town Council Tax we pay to provide those parish-level services in Great Aycliffe.

It is an emotive issue of principle, and the LibDems’ latest leaflet decries “Aycliffe’s Council Tax Scandal” – that “residents in Aycliffe pay up to £400 more in Council Tax than other places in County Durham”.

How much does Double Taxation actually cost us?

We can estimate how much we pay for that ‘double taxation’. Approximately a fifth of the county is unparished so – if those areas are typical of the rest of the county – the gross cost will be roughly £2.8 million … i.e. £7.50 to each D-band council tax payer in the county. So it is an issue which needs resolving, but financially a relatively minor element within the £2,291 I am paying this year for my DCC, GATC, Fire and Police services.

So how might the LibDems save us £400?

The cost of the ‘double taxation’ is only £7.50. The £400 they mention is the whole cost of our Town Council Tax! So the only way the LibDems could save that kind of sum, would be by abolishing the Town Council altogether and becoming an unparished area … so that we would not have to pay any Parish Council Tax at all.

And even that would save £400 only for G-band householders. Since Council Tax bands are graded, it would only save £250 for a D-band house; just £166 for an A-Band house … and nothing at all for people on relevant benefits who do not pay Council Tax at all.

What would we lose if we abolished the Town Council?

‘Double Taxation’ is not an evil County Council plot to steal your money! It is the money the Town Council charges to allow it to provide better-quality services. If we were to become an unparished area, spending on parish-level services in Great Aycliffe would halve, because DCC would treat us like every other unparished area in the county. We would certainly lose the Santa Tours, the Fireworks Display, the Senior Citizens’ trips and half our play areas.

The LibDems never told you that, did they?

Are the LibDems “REALLY” preparing to abolish the Town Council? It seems an amazing suggestion, doesn’t it, especially when the LibDems are not saying so explicitly. But they are caught in their own trap – that abolishing the Town Council is the only way they could save us anything near the sum of £400 they are touting.

The other explanation would be that they are scamming us – mentioning “£400” just to win votes, in the full knowledge that the very best they can give us without abolishing the Town Council is £7.50 … but that is an explanation which I have to trust is not true.

They still have a week, of course, to clarify whether they intend to abolish the Town Council, or whether they are never going to be able to deliver anywhere near £400 in savings … though all this is too late for most postal voters (which I hope is also not intentional).

John D Clare