The appalling inefficiency of Conservative controlled North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has once again hit the pockets of local residents. As we speak Council Tax bills are thudding through letter boxes, weighed down by the above average increases by North Yorkshire Local Authorities.
Not just the County Council, but also the District Council, Police and Fire Authorities have all abused their power to impose increases up to 60% higher than the national average. But the highest is the NYCC increase of 2.94%, compared to a national average of just 1.8%. This is despite the cynical increase by the Labour Government of the subsidy to Local Authorities by 4% this election year. (There will be no increase in this subsidy next year and probably a reduction in Government support for Local Authorities if either the Tories or Labour win the general election.)
Tory Councillors on NYCC are using the excuse of having to repair roads damaged by recent frosts to justify the Council Tax increase. But we all know that if NYCC had maintained those roads properly in the past, repairing those minor cracks which are later turned into potholes by the frost; then the pothole problem would not have been as severe. A more glaring example of a stitch in time that would have saved nine I cannot imagine.
But Tory incompetence does not stop there. Even in the good years NYCC have built up a deficit reported as £40m. It falls to North Yorkshire's most vulnerable residents to pay for this shortfall. They are now facing savage price rises imposed on vital care services to support them in their homes. Without the slighest sense of shame, NYCC has increased charges to those who pay for Community Services by 10 per cent in just one year.
These increases cover personal care as well as meals, transport, day care and laundry services. They were proposed in a NYCC report, "Fees and Charges for Community Care Services 2010-11", which was approved by Tory leaders but missed by the Liberal Democrat opposition at the time.
Even worse, the report suggests that people will soon be expected to pay the full cost of services, eliminating all council subsidies. There is now no maximum limit to what they can charge. The County Council currently supports 11,000 adults in the community and with baby boomers now retiring; this figure is expected to rise. It also supports 2,000 adults in residential care and 4,000 carers. But that support is being swept away to pay for Tory incompetence.
Despite these increased charges, the Council Tax rise and the increased subsidy from the Government, a pay freeze for staff and 500 redundancies are predicted. I can guarantee that the person most deserving of redundancy, Tory Leader John Weighell unfortunately will not be losing his job.
However there is some good news, for residents of Brompton on Swale at least. The Parish Council there agreed a proposal by Green Party Councillor and Deputy Chair Leslie Rowe which has led to a 0.7% decrease in the Parish Council Tax Levy. Well, every little helps!