RESIDENTS furious over an “excessive” increase in council tax precept are calling for a town council to be abolished.
The Association of Billingham Residents has set up a petition calling for Stockton Borough Council to carry out a governance review of Billingham Town Council and to have a referendum to scrap the town council.
The petition cites “excessive administration costs” being a “financial burden on the people of Billingham” and that the town council precept “has almost doubled since it came into existence”.
It also states that the town council doesn’t engage with residents and “only promotes and provides its own self-interest”.
The town council’s precept for 2014-15 is to rise by 28.35 per cent this year, and the previous year it rose by 17.8 per cent.
It collected £124,829 in precept last year and this is set to rise to £160,213 in 2014-15.
Last year, the precept for a Band A property in Billingham was £9.90, and this is to rise to £12.35.
This is while Stockton Borough Council increased its council tax by 1.9 per cent for the coming year, while continuing to freeze councillors allowances.
Meanwhile, the parish council precept of Wolviston Parish Council, also within the Stockton borough, has gone down, from a total of £10,049 to £10,019, representing a drop from £17.97 for a Band A property to £17.71.
Kevin Bowler, of the association, said: “The town council say to residents ‘it’s only coppers on your bill’, which is fair enough.
“But the point is, with 17.8 per cent last year and 28.35 this year, when you consider the inflation rates are running at 2 per cent, that’s 14 times inflation.”
Two council chairman Ray McCall would only say: “When we worked it out the rise was 6p a week. These people love to dress these things up in percentages to make it look worse, and it’s not.”
Stockton Borough Council said they could not comment as they have not received the petition yet.
The petition, which also has a paper version with 600 signatures, is at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/stockton-borough-council-undertake-a-governance-review-of-billingham-town-council
At least 2,000 signatures are needed for a referendum.