Saturday, 23 February 2008

13 Pence a Week

This morning, over a black coffee, I managed to browse the Farnham Herald and take in the coverage of the budget. Understandably the headlines were the 4.4% increase, and the car parking charges. Richard Gates was fairly represented in quotes from his speech, and the comment about Ken Reed's lengthy rebuttal very fair indeed!

I suppose I'm a little frustrated by the reporting bias, and it's true that increases of any kind are not welcome, but I do believe the decisions were right. Reference to the Lib Dems' last ditch attempt to persuade the administration to reduce the increase by 0.3% are a bit overstated - the budget is such that to make a statement of this nature, whilst listing off various 'savings' but not having an alternate statement revealing how the budget would thus balance, is a pretty unstructured and unconvincing way to persaude. And perhaps it wouldn't make front page prose, but a reference to the lack of any diligent, coherent treatment of car parking income over the past four years, would have made much more sense and honesty out of the situation. The present administration is rightly balancing the disappointment that increases bring, with the responsibility to manage the borough residents' money appropriately.

However, my last comment must be that I was pleased to see that the front page report did mention the specific amount of the increase attributed to Waverley. It's too easy to simply focus on the total increase across all the authorities in the council tax - Town/Parish, Borough, County and Police - but when in actual fact, this borough budget means only an extra £6.39 over the entire year for a band D household. That's less than 13p a week.

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