COUNCIL tax bills for homes throughout the Midhurst and Petworth area will be dropping through letterboxes later this month and householders will be forced once again to dig deeper into their pockets in 2014-2015.
West Sussex County Council has frozen its share of the council tax cake, but as always it will be the biggest slice at £1,161.99 for the average council tax band D payer, paying for major services including social services, education and even those pesky potholes that are still the bane of their lives for county highways engineers.
The police will be taking a further £141.12 for band D householders to carry out their role in the county and Chichester District Council’s slice is £140.81.
Taxpayers then have to add their own parish or town council’s precept to get their final bill.
On average, parish and town councils have added some four per cent to their slice of the cake and so this will add somewhere in the region of another £46, making the total for band D homes around £1,489.92.
Midhurst Town Council’s precept has gone up 3.04 per cent to £46.51 from £45.14. The town has a total precept of £97,828 and already helps to finance youth services and the Rother Valley Together day activities for elderly and disadvantaged people.
Petworth Town Council’s rise is a modest 1.94 per cent, going from £41.80 to £42.61 and giving the town a total precept of £52,543.
But there are 32 parish councils in the Midhurst and Petworth area and many are beginning to feel the pinch of financial cutbacks at county and district level.
There is a feeling that if they no not take matters into their own hands, villagers are going to suffer from fewer and fewer services.
Northchapel was one of the first to bite the bullet six years ago when the parish council put up the precept considerably to take on projects in the village.
There was initially an outcry, but as villagers saw what they were able to achieve, the higher precept is now an accepted part of life.
They have been able to buy their own snowplough to be masters of their own destiny in wintry weather. They have put a cover on the school swimming pool and bought books for the school.
Now around a third of the area’s parish councils are following suit.
Fernhurst and Wisborough Green have taken over the running of public conveniences, previously a Chichester District Council service.
Easebourne is going to provide a recreation ground and is even talking about a village hall in the future, and Lodsworth reckons if it doesn’t come up with the cash to keep the village tidy, nobody else will.
For full story see Midhurst and Petworth Observer Thursday, March 6