By Tristan Harris Friday 08 March 2013 Updated: 12/03 23:08
THE LEADERS of Bromsgrove District Council and the town's Labour group have slammed parish councils, claiming they are not value for money and should all be disbanded.
And Coun Roger Hollingworth and Coun Peter McDonald are due to meet in the coming weeks to discuss the third tier of local government, which they say, the taxpayer should not have to pay for.
Coun Hollingworth said: "There is the odd thing they do where people benefit, but overall I don't think they are value for money - most of the funding goes on administration."
Coun Hollingworth added many issues submitted to parish councils were passed onto the district to sort out and that there was nothing parish councils did the district could not take on.
Coun McDonald said the concept of parish councils, which goes back to the 18th and 19th century, was outdated.
"It's a luxury that divides the district, because those without parishes pay less council tax - it's discrimination."
Of Bromsgrove's 19 parished areas, the highest 2013/14 precepts are Alvechurch, set at £104,957, Wythall, at £100,447, and Clent, at £75,000. Of the annual charges to individual Band D householders, Clent and Barnt Green residents pay the most for their parish councils - £63.79 and £62.11 respectively.
Both councillors hit out at how parish councils could increase their charges by the amount they wanted, while district and county were both capped at 1.99 per cent.
Nine parish councils increased their portions by two per cent or more. Clent was the highest, rising its precept by 33.45 per cent. Hunnington was second with an 8.82 per cent hike.
While the finances for 2013/14 were being agreed, £42,000 extra had to be found for parish councils because of a shortfall caused by the Government changing the way the number of D band equivalent homes was calculated.
Coun McDonald also hit out at some district councillors who were also parish councillors, saying they used the district council chamber to argue on behalf of their parishes.
And he said a debate on the future of parish councils was one that had to be had.
But Alvechurch Parish Council chairman Coun John Cypher dismissed the claims.
"It's an odd set of comments given the Government's interest in localism.
"Parish councils are the best form of localism you can get."
And he added with Bromsgrove District Council vying to reduce its number of councillors, it did not make sense.
"It doesn't say much about the way democracy may operate in the future."
And, on cost to the taxpayer, he said parish councils differed and Alvechurch covered a big area.
"We are one of the biggest and offer great value for money."
Statistically, charges for parish councils make up one per cent of the overall council tax bill.
As has been proven in the past, disbanding parish councils can be a lengthy process. Lickey End Parish Council was finally dissolved in 2011 after a decade of campaigning.
Coun Hollingworth said for parish councils to be disbanded, the public needed to ask for it.
Both councillors now want residents to submit their views on their local parish councils, whether they be positive or negative opinions.
E-mail your views firstname.lastname@example.org or write to R.Hollingworth, Council House, Burcot Lane, Bromsgrove. B60 1AA
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