Independent columnist Observer considers whether Uckfield Town Council will have to pull its horns in now that it faces the prospect of holding a referendum if it wishes for a substantial increase in council tax.
Uckfield Town Council has in my two spells of living in Uckfield prided itself on being a “progressive” authority.
It has been able to proceed with schemes for what most would regard as the “betterment” of the town.
They may not be on the grand scale but they have provided facilities and benefits in excess of what you would find in most villages.
Local government heirachy
A town council and a parish council are on the same level when it comes to local government heirarchy. In a town you generally pay more council tax – but get more.
Uckfield, for example, has a high-quality civic centre, with a well-equipped public hall, meetings rooms and, strangely, a restaurant.
Play areas are renewed, pitches provided for local sports clubs, facilities established for the young, such as the skatepark.
This is by no means a comprehensive list but it shows the council has kept things up to the mark and carried out improvements it has felt necessary.
New homes being built in Uckfield have helped fund some of these schemes, through the payment of a “roof tax” by developers and by increasing the number of properties in the town which have to pay the council tax.
It’s been a win, win for the town council year after year. Councillors have been able to carry out improvements while keeping council tax rises at nil or very low.
Whether this will continue remains to be seen.
Housebuilding drying up?
You get the feeling that housebuilding has dried up in Uckfield in the last year. There’s no start as yet on Mallard Drive or Ridgewood Farm.
Seeking a council tax rise of more than two per cent would spark a referendum under the new proposals put forward by the government.
Councillors know they have no chance of getting people to vote for a rise so they may find their wings clipped in future.
There is a lot of talk about services being devolved to towns and parishes by councils higher up the pecking order.
All well and good, as long as the money comes with them. I am all in favour of local government being really local.
Where Uckfield will run into trouble is if it takes on more and more of these devolved tasks and has to charge the council taxpayer to do it.
RAILWAY: Southern’s ill-judged attempt to get passengers to “have a go” at the RMT union over the conductors’ strikes shows the company’s managers have not learned a basic lesson. Didn’t anyone tell them to stop digging when in a hole?
PARKING in Uckfield is a free-for-all with cars and lorries on the pavements every day of the working week. Yellow lines are ignored. Why doesn’t the council do something?