Monday, 31 March 2014

Rate relief

Many clubs and small organisations across Cornwall have had to cope with a steep increase in their rates bill this year. This has been the result of a cross party working group at the Council trying to ensure that the systems inherited from the six district councils were amalgamated into one.

This resulted in winners and losers. I did not agree with all the conclusions of the group.

Although I could not change the new scheme, what I did achieve was to put off the implementation of the new scheme from 1st April 2013 to 1st April 2014. This was to ensure that all those involved had a full year's warning of the change.  I am sorry that the new Council has not given those affected as much help as it might have done through this difficult transition.

I was asked not to defer the scheme for a year. Opposition councillors (now in the Cabinet) sought to give the impression that I was abandoning £300,000 of savings to Cornwall Council's budget.

But what I, and others in the voluntary sector realised, was that many organisations work within tight budgets and set their subscription or room rates once a year. They are supported by volunteers. To suddenly find a large amount of money would have been extremely difficult. These organisations are part of the fabric of Cornwall. 

Imagine the squeals that those same councillors would make if they were suddenly forced to deal with a big hole in their own budget. But then you don't need to imagine it: you can hear them squealing pretty much every day.

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