I have recently received the community charge bill for 2017/ 18, which includes an amount collected for the use by Chepstow Town Council.
They have agreed a rise in the precept (the tax charged by Chepstow Town Council) of a massive 33 per cent which means that the total amount that a band D property now pays to the town council is £121 per annum.
This tax is in addition to the community charge we already pay to Monmouthshire County Council. The total tax collected to give to Chepstow Town Council (not the county) this year will be £669,810.00. Last year it was £499,496.
The question is how is Chepstow Town Council able to put through a 33 per cent tax rise when Monmouthshire County Council rises are capped by the government? Why are they not capped or restricted? Well, they can ask the community charge payers of Chepstow, Bulwark and Thornwell, for whatever they believe is justifiable. They have a blank cheque and we are the bank account.
The greatest concern though is that this tax is iniquitous and unfair because it takes no account of people’s ability to pay. It hits the lowest paid workers who are already struggling with rents, mortgages and probably loans (because they cannot afford to save), people on fixed incomes like pensioners and those who have had a small or even no pay rise at all. It’s the reason why there was so much opposition to the poll tax for anyone old enough to remember. I believe a debate about changing the way town councils are funded is urgently needed.
I would like to see the communities of Chepstow, Bulwark and Thornwell get together to find a fairer way forward.
Even if this rise is not much from your income please show you care about those who are being hit hard. It is possible to make a difference when there is enough support for change.