Chairman's Blog - March 2017
RATE RISE TO PAY FOR SOCIAL CARE
It looks as though Merton Council will increase council tax at the annual budget meeting by 3% in order to provide extra funding for adult social care. The Labour administration has been forced into this position despite having previously pledged to keep the levy frozen until 2018.
The government has given all local authorities permission to increase local taxation by 3% next year, to help alleviate the obvious shortfall in provision for the increasing numbers of elderly and disabled people.
It is reported that the Council was forced into this decision by pressure from Merton’s Clinical Commissioning Group which warned in October that the extra funding which they provided to the Council would be withdrawn unless it raised the precept. It is thought that this extra money will be ring-fenced.
The Government also gave local authorities permission to increase rates by a further 3% in the following year, but no decision has been made on this so far.
The Government has, in fact, given permission to all local authorities to raise taxation by up to 4.99% next year. They can only go above this figure if they hold a local referendum, but no authority has decided to do so, Surrey County Council having thought better of their intention to hold one to raise their impost by 15%. It seems doubtful that Merton will increase the tax by more than the 3% next year.
PARKING IN GARDENS
There are more and more house owners who are paving over their front gardens to park their vehicles. The proposed impost on diesel vehicles for those householders who need parking permits, which we reported on in the last edition of The Guide, is likely to increase this trend. Other people concrete over their front gardens as somewhere to store wheelie bins, which is again likely to increase if the Council change the rubbish collection provision in 2018.
Much of this area is prone to flooding. It is always worth repeating that this Association was founded in 1928 precisely because of this problem. In recent years we have had repeated flooding in certain areas, particularly when there are flash floods. As the climate grows warmer, the rate of such downpours has increased.
Ordinary domestic gardens soak up rainwater, but every piece of concrete we build increases water run-off, and the drains are unable to cope.
The Times weatherman reports that some 5 million gardens are now paved, which is one in four of the total. There has been a three-fold increase in the past ten years.
Most front gardens need access from a crossover from a dropped kerb, which the Council has to agree. Councils ought to insist as a condition of granting permission for a crossover that the surface of the front garden is not concrete or tarmac, but something permeable which will allow water to soak away gradually. There are many such surfaces on the market.
We wrote to the Council protesting at the proposed introduction in April of the diesel levy. My letter and the reply from the Council member responsible for the introduction of the scheme may be read here.
GRAND DRIVE/BUSHEY ROAD TRAFFIC LIGHTS
We also wrote to Transport for London about the sequencing of the traffic lights turning right into Grand Drive. You can see the reply we received here.