Over the course of the last week a number of Labour Candidates and Activists and the Independent Candidate in Wiswell and Barrow have hotly hotly disputed the Council Tax Figures on the Front of Our Main Leaflet where we compare the Cheapest Council Tax in Lancashire for a Band D Property (Ribble Valley £150.69) with that of the Most Expensive Council Tax in Lancashire (Preston City Council £314.50).
The debate from Candidates seeking Election to a Council where they will take part on setting the Council Tax on behalf of the residents and on behalf of a political party seeking power so they can set that rate has hardly been well informed.
Liz Birtwistle the Labour Candidate in Sabden states, "I can't work out how they've arrived at the £314 figure for Preston? So," she concludes, "it's either very misleading or a blatant lie."
Elsewhere leading Labour activists, supporters and others who describe themselves as being of an anti-Conservative persuasion in the Ribble Valley such as Pete Howarth, Maria Gee, Liz Cushing and Ryan Corney accuse Ribble Valley Conservatives of variously: misleading figures, lies and somewhat misleading numbers. Liz Cushing was particularly scathing in her criticism stating on Facebook that, "..it's so misleading. I was talking to someone the other day and they said they would vote Conservative because we pay less council tax here, so it's obviously affecting peoples opinion even though it's lies."
We would like to re-assure the public that our claims are based on detailed research and that our figures are accurate. We pride ourselves on our detailed research and the accuracy of our figures. Our figures are from ONS. You can check them if you like from the Statistical Release of National Council Tax Data across All Local Authorities in the UK:
You need to look at the Districts Tab. Lancashire is on Page 4. Just to help we have copied the data and included it on a helpful graphic.
As you can see the numbers are not misleading at all. They are infact very much based on fact!
We are very grateful to the Chairman of the Labour Party in the Ribble Valley, Giles Bridge, for coming to our rescue and taking a more level-headed approach. In a pro-Labour Facebook Site which attacks Conservative Candidates in the most disgraceful manner and has been reported to the Police, Giles writes, "The figures the Tories use are the district council portions of the overall council tax. So are technically correct." He also helpfully provides a link to the relevant page on the Preston City Council Web-Site so that interested researchers can see for themselves how much Preston City Council charges residents in Council Tax.
Well done that man! Although we're not entirely sure how our figures could be "technically incorrect". They're either correct or they're not. When it comes to setting rates and reporting figures to the Government it's really important that future Councillors understand what is being reported is entirely valid.
A more challenging approach altogether has been taken by the so-called Independent Candidate in Barrow & Wiswell, David Birtwistle (who seems to publish most of his material on pro-Labour Facebook Pages) who has published partially obscured images of Council Tax Bills - one from Ribble Valley and one from Blackburn. He claims on the same pro-Labour Facebook Site which attacks Conservative Candidates in the most disgraceful manner that Giles Bridge writes for under the headline: "Lowest council tax in Lancashire, really?"
On the Facebook Page on which he publishes the images of the two Council Tax Bills David Birtwhistle is showing a Band D for Blackburn without a Parish precept the Total Charge is £1,780.76 & Barrow at £1,791.21 but this includes a parish precept of £23.00. This gives the impression that Ribble Valley Borough Council is £10.45 more expensive when if you remove the parish precept it is infact £12.55 cheaper
If you were to pick a Ribble Valley Borough Council Tax Band D property without a parish precept the cost would be £1,768.21 a saving of £12.55. The Rinnle Valley Borough Council Tax Bill with the Highest Parish Precept is £1,805.07 - Bolton by Bowland. The Highest Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council Tax Bill with a Parish precept is £1,817.61 - Tockholes. The lowest Council Tax Bill Cost in Blackburn with Darwen encompassing a parish precept is £1,786.38 - Pleasington. Of the 44 parishes in Ribble Valley 29 charge less than in Pleasington.
Sorry to disappoint David but it is. Using figures for a Band D Property which cover all Charges on a Council Tax Bill:
- Lancashire C C
- LCC Adult Social Care
- District Council Tax Charge
- Parish Council Precept
- Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service Precept
- Lancashire Police Precept
and to make matters easier for David we have put together a Table of all the elements of a Council Tax Bill for all the Authorities in Lancashire including a figure for the Average Parish Precept where one is charged. Ribble Valley is the Lowest in Lancashire. Even lower than the two Unitary Authorities - Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.
If that weren't proof enough we've repeated the exercise for Wards where either no Parish Councils exist or where no Parish Precept is levied. The same result occurs. Ribble Valley is the lowest, lower than both of the two Unitary Authorities including Blackburn with Darwen.
Of course, as David will rightly point out we've neglected to account for the collection of Green Waste. Once again we've put together a helpful Table. As you can see Ribble Valley will still be the Lowest Council Tax Bill because it doesn't charge for Green Waste Collection whereas other Authorities do.- in some cases quite large amounts which further add to residents Total Council Tax Bill.
At the Conservative Election HQ in the Ribble Valley we've been wondering what all the fuss is about and why the Labour Party seem to be so upset at our figures?
Is it because a number of the Labour Candidates don't seem to understand the difference between a District, a Unitary and a County Council. That will be an issue of real concern if they are elected and are ever responsible for setting the Council Tax in the Ribble Valley and don't understand the difference between the rate set by Preston just over the border in Longridge and the much lower rate set in the Ribble Valley although I suspect they would like to charge the residents of Longridge much more given their ambitious uncosted plans.
If Labour's aim is to deliver a much more extensive service provision then they need to cost their proposals and show how much they are going to put up Council Tax in the Ribble Valley over the next term and how much more the residents of Longridge will be paying and how much closer to what appears to be their deal of following the high spending Preston model they wish to emulate. Labour needs to be honest with the residents of Longridge and the residents of the Ribble Valley about their high spend high Tax approach they wish to follow. It is not for Candidates to tell Residents how much Council Tax they should pay it is the duty of candidates to listen to residents about how much Council Tax they are prepared to bare.