Council Tax Freeze reply letter to John Dean and Grant Shapps

Dear Sir

It is all very well for John Dean and Grant Shapps to boast about freezing council tax, which we supported as necessary given the freeze in many people's incomes. But it is only half the story.

Services have been cut by both borough and county councils.

The borough still

  • fail to take any action to stop the destruction of our grass verges
  • they have reduced the number of grass and hedge cuts
  • reduced tree budgets
  • cut planning staff so there is less enforcement
  • reduced grants to the voluntary bodies that do so much good

The list goes on. And of course the borough's budget shows a major deficit every year - hardly the mark of a well-run council.

The county council have

  • turned off most of our lights after midnight, which unlike Labour we did not support
  • put many school crossing patrols under threat
  • were forced to pay back over £1m in bus lane fines that were ruled illegal
  • failed to meet energy reduction targets
  • introduced the worst highway service for years.

Even before the new contractor came in, Herts was repairing footways only once every 136 years on average.

In both council, there is a lack of willingness to listen to, work with and act on the suggestions of other parties. And I have to intervene sometimes to stop two Tory-controlled councils squabbling so much.

And as for Grant Shapps's comment that council tax bills are a household's biggest spend after mortgage or rent - has he never heard of commuter rail fares, usually over £3,000 per year, the highest in Europe? - year after year his transport minister forces fares up above inflation. Truly they take more with one hand than they benefit you with the other.

Yours sincerely

Malcolm Cowan

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