Spend the extra council tax on cleaning the town say Northampton folk in budget survey

A consultation on Northampton Borough Council's 2017/18 budget saw townsfolk reveal how they think the proposed tax hike should be spent.
A consultation on Northampton Borough Council's 2017/18 budget saw townsfolk reveal how they think the proposed tax hike should be spent.

The extra funds raised by the upcoming increase in Northampton’s tax bill should be used to keep “deprived”  estates clean and to provide more services for the elderly- a consultation has found.

Northampton Borough Council sets its 2017/8 budget at next Wednesday’s cabinet meeting - at which it will rubber-stamp plans to increase council tax by £5 a year for a band D house.

The authority could raise an extra £324,000 with the increase.

But the results of a consultation show where Northamptonians think the extra funds should be spent.

Nearly a third of respondents said the money should be spent on keeping the town’s estates clean.

Inevitably, when respondents were asked how the council could save money there were a wide range of other suggestion from cutting down on directors and consultants, through to imposing hefty fines on fly-tippers.

Speaking about East Northampton, one said “cleaning is minimal and tree care almost non-existent.”

Another called on money to be spent cleaning “deprived and densely populated areas,” suggesting resources are currently focussed on the town centre and Abington Park.

The council’s environmental services are carried out by the firm Enterprise, but the contract has come under fire and will go out to tender in 2018.

Around £15,000 of the money raised through increasing tax will be used to help maintain play equipment across the borough.

But when asked where the authority’s capital should be invested, only 21 of the 66 respondents agreed.

Most people - 35 in total- felt the money would be better diverted to improving parks and only 13 felt the extra funds would be well spent on improving Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, which currently undergoing a multi-million pound renovation

Nine of the respondents said the council should focus more spending on the elderly.

One of those said there should be “more parking easily accessible to shops and Derngate.”

Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Brandon Eldred, said he would “always encourage people” to take part in the borough council surveys - as the council “takes on board all of the feedback [it] receives.

"We listen and reflect those views in our decisions where we can,” he added.

However Councillor Eldred said the roundly criticised cut to the council tax reduction scheme announced last week was another example of the council listening.

“The recent recommendation on our Council Tax Reduction Scheme is a good example of this,” he said. “Our final recommendation is two per cent lower than the figure we consulted on as a direct result of the feedback people shared.”

The proposed £5-per-year tax rise comes amid a falling grant from central Government. The borough will need to find an extra £5.8 million of savings by 2020/21 as a result.