Warsop residents asked: 'do you get value for money?'
Mansfield MP Coun Ben Bradley has launched a survey asking Warsop residents whether they think they get ‘value for money’ from the parish council – but it has been branded a ‘political stunt’ by a leading parish councillor.
Coun Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader, has published the survey, asking whether residents know what they get from the additional council tax bill.
He believes there is scope for potentially dissolving the authority amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Parish councils serve smaller areas within larger districts, with their own council tax precept to fund projects and facilities. Powers include looking after community buildings, open spaces, allotments, play areas, street lighting, bus shelters and car parks.
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A leading Warsop councillor has defended the authority, saying the parish authority spends its small budget ‘very wisely’ each year, but Coun Bradley believes it could be unfair for residents in the parish to pay more taxes than people elsewhere in the district.
He said: “Every year I get residents asking ‘why do I pay this, what services do I get’. It’s an interesting question.
“It comes with an extra tax and it’s about whether people feel they get a better service as a result of that, or whether they don’t see the value for that money.”
He said they will ‘wait and see what residents’ views are’, but says early indications suggest residents are ‘marginally in favour of saying it’s not good value for money’.
The survey has been shared by Coun Phil Shields, Mansfield Council Independent member for Netherfield ward in Warsop.
He said: “I’ve been asked on numerous occasions by people in Meden Vale ‘why do we pay more council tax than other properties in Mansfield, and what do we get for that money?’.
“I’m not bothered whether Warsop has a parish council or doesn’t, that’s not the point of the exercise, it’s more getting residents’ views and doing what residents want.
“I’m doing what’s right for my ward and my residents in Meden Vale.”
However, Coun Andy Burgin, vice-chairman of the parish council, believes the survey is a ‘political stunt’.
He says the parish council has frozen its precepts for 2022/23, while Conservative-controlled Nottinghamshire Council, led by Coun Bradley, plans to increase its bills by 4 per cent,
Coun Burgin said: “For the small amount of money the council gets each year, we spend it very wisely putting on events and supporting community groups.
“There’s a lot we do and I think most people in Warsop are appreciative of that.
“We’ve got the town hall which hosts a police office, we have charities working out of there, and in the grand scheme of things, the money we have to spend is very small in the context of local authority budgets.
“I believe this is a smokescreen to Coun Bradley putting county council tax up. The increase alone is double what we charge at the parish council.
“It’s in some ways a political stunt and it’s very disappointing.”