Everybody should have had their council tax bill by now from Rother District Council (RDC) – with the first payment due on April 8 – and one item puzzled me. That was “Rye Special Expenses” – and the clue is in the photo above.
The Salts, along the banks of the River Rother in Rye, belong to RDC but, as it believes only people who live in Rye can use the Salts, only Rye residents are charged for the costs of looking after the Salts – which mainly comprise a cricket/football ground, the bowls club, and recreational space.
And the cost to me, for mainly grass cutting the Salts, in a band C dwelling is therefore about 44p a week. But I only go there once a year, on Bonfire Night!
Rye Town Council seems more of a bargain as for me it works out at about £1.34 a week (and I often see the Town Steward at work around the town).
However its charge has gone up this year partially because RDC had a boot sale of odd bits of land they owned in order to raise cash. The Town Council bought the land on which the Rye Nursery School is built from RDC, and also a bit of land in Wish Ward, but that was all they could afford after digging into their reserves, which now need building up again.
The cost to the Rye council taxpayer is kept down though by having weddings in the historic Town Hall, renting out property, and running the Heritage Centre on Strand Quay which caters for visitors since RDC closed the Tourist Information Centre. And that is a very specific service which helps the town’s finances as, whether we like visitors – or not, we need them.
By contrast East Sussex County Council (ESCC), whose responsibilities include social care, will be costing me nearly £24 a week and, as I’m not a driver (ESCC are the highways authority) or in care (yet), the main benefits seem to be just the bus pass and the library.
Police and the fire service cost me £4.39 a week, not that I see much of either, while the RDC (including their Special Expenses) costs me £3.42 a week, which is mainly for the bin collectors – and the men (or women) who collect the rates.
So the grand total works out at £32.98 per week for a band C dwelling in Rye (about the same as my main shop of the week) – though I do get 25% off as the sole resident (because I am making less use of services).
But this local tax, covering three separate councils and two other bodies, seems to keep on increasing (despite education now being centrally funded and public housing virtually vanishing) and I wonder what I am really getting for my money. Perhaps you do too?
Photo: John Minter