Tax Payers Alliance name Sarah Hill Pin Head of the month for February

Sarah Hill TPA pinhead of the monthThe Tax Payers Alliance have voted Councillor Sarah Hill, the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Cabinet Member for Finance as their Pin Head of the month for February.

According to the TPA Sarah is the driving force behind moves to refuse the Government’s funding that would enable a council tax freeze in Stoke-on-Trent this year and instead is pushing ahead with a 3.49% increase in bills at a time when many residents are struggling with the rising cost of living. On Thursday Sarah and her fellow councillors were set to vote through this rise, despite previous TPA research and official statistics pointing to areas where costs are already running too high, such as

  • The 2010/11 mileage allowance for council employees claiming for using their car was 65 per mile, 25p per mile higher than the HMRC-recommended rate.
  • John van de Laarschot the Stoke-on-Trent City Coincuk Chief Executive receiving total remuneration of £226,575 in 2010/2011.
  • Councillors’ allowances cost taxpayers £911,000 in 2010/11 (up from £807,000 in 2009/10).
  • 7 councillors were enrolled on the Local Government Pension Scheme in 2010/11. Many authorities choose not to allow councillors onto this scheme for council employees, recognising the historically voluntary role of local politicians.
  • The estimated cost of the no fewer than seven Full Time Equivalent trade union officials paid for by the council was £197,347 – staff whose time is paid for by taxpayers while they work for the trade unions (and that’s before you include the cost of other support provided such as office space or the administration of union fees).

Elswhere, February 2012’s Pin-Up of the Month is Cllr David Burbage, council leader in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.  Cllr Burbage has announced that council tax in his Borough will be cut again this year, by 1.5% – the third year in a row that he has reduced the burden on local council tax payers.

 

Jonathan Isaby, Political Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has always believed that key to delivering taxpayer value for money is exposing those in power to public scrutiny by ensuring that there is transparency and openness in how they spend our hard-earned cash. And as well as making examples of those who have shown a disregard for public money, it is important to recognise those who have tried to do the right thing by taxpayers.

For the third year in a row, David Burbage has demonstrated exactly how a local authority can reduce the burden on council tax payers whilst protecting frontline services. In Windsor and Maidenhead we have a shining example of how a local authority can deliver taxpayer value for money which council leaders around the country should be seeking to emulate.

It’s a shame that civic leaders in Stoke have not followed Cllr Burbage’s example. Council tax for Stoke residents has already increased by 51% over the last decade without the equivalent improvement in quality or quantity of services. And now ““ at a time when there are so many pressures on everyone’s finances ““ Cllr Hill is pressing ahead with this unnecessary rise in council tax.

It’s the last thing that families need, and is all the more galling when you bear in mind that the Government found the funding to allow for a freeze in council tax, only for Cllr Hill and her colleagues to refuse it. What’s more, they have opted for a 3.49% increase in order to avoid having to put the decision to a local referendum, which an increase of more than 3.5% would have meant, by law.

Cllr Hill therefore deserves to take her place in the TPA Gallery of council tax-raising Pinheads alongside the likes of Jason Kitcat from Brighton & Hove and Peterborough’s David Seaton.

We asked the City Council if there was any official response or statement from Sarah Hill but they declined to comment.

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