Anger over council tax rise

DEMANDS on local council tax payers in Caister are increasing by 26pc - but the parish council chairman says householders will have to wait a month to find out why.

DEMANDS on local council tax payers in Caister are increasing by 26pc - but the parish council chairman says householders will have to wait a month to find out why.

Villagers attending a parish council meeting on Monday were told the increase of �5 per household for the financial year 2009/10 had been levied to cover the legal costs of a project “that will be of benefit to the village.”

But the council was not prepared to reveal any more details about the scheme, to the anger of the 4,000 taxpayers faced with having to pay the �20,000 needed to cover the legal costs.

Elizabeth Dyble, the council's clerk, said: “We are undertaking a project that will be of benefit to the village and negotiations are underway. However, we have been asked to keep this in camera at the present time.”

But one resident replied: “This increase equates to a 26pc rise for council tax payers, when other parish councils are only increasing their rates by just over four percent. Why are we having to pay for a scheme we know nothing about?”

His concerns were reflected by other villagers.

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Mum-of-two Lorraine Lodge, 42, of Yarmouth Road, said the secrecy raised questions over the accountability of councils.

She added: “They should be saying something about it and should not be totally secretive about it. That is bang out of order.”

Another Yarmouth Road resident Sidney Sparks, 68, said: “It is not right. They should tell people what they are going to use the money for. They are elected and are therefore responsible to the people of Caister and should tell them what they are going to do.”

While Verna Scarff, 72, who lives near the village's Tesco store, said: “I don't think we should have to pay that if we are not informed what the money's for.

“It is very wrong. I mean �5 is a lot of money for a pensioner. It is a damn cheek to take that �5 when we don't know what the money is for and they are not telling us.”

The council's chairman Tony Overill said he sympathised with the residents' position, but said information about the scheme would soon be made public.

He said: “If we precept for the coming year then we have got to take into consideration what we are going to precept for and if this project hopefully comes to fruition it will all be made public in a month's time, but we have got to allow for it in our budgeting.”

Speculation is mounting the legal costs could be linked to Tesco plans to rebuild the retail giant's Caister store in Yarmouth Road to provide premises a third larger than the existing site.

In March, Tesco spokesman Nick Gellatly confirmed the company was looking at a possible total rebuild of its Caister store and that it would consider making a financial contribution towards new community facilities as part of any planning application.

These could include a new village hall and youth centre.

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