Newmarket Journal readers' letters to the editor
Local government finance dominates this week's letters.
MY COUNCIL TAX BILL DOESN’T QUITE ADD UP
When looking at the information accompanying my Council Tax bill I read that there are eight valuation bands – A to H. I am puzzled then to read on my bill that my house is in bands B and E. How can this be?
Perhaps the way our council works con be explained by reading the accompanying letter from the Leader of West Suffolk Council. He writes: “We are providing money for local councillors specifically to help local projects in their localities – increasing their locality budgets by £500 from £2,800 to £3,200.”
If the maths do not add up and get checked on a public document whatever happens in the budgeting where taxpayers millions are hidden from all but the determined?
Should we bring back Forest Heath?
Paul Grover, Exning
DAY OFFERS CHANCE TO REMEMBER
March is usually a month in our calendar that is hopeful of the spring and summer to come. But this year March holds a different significance, marking the anniversary of when the UK first went into a nationwide lockdown.
The last 12 months have been challenging for so many and as a charity dedicated to caring for people at the end of their life and supporting the bereaved, Marie Curie has witnessed the impact of the pandemic first-hand.
While we can start to see glimmers of hope and lockdown easing, millions of people have been bereaved, many unable to properly say goodbye to loved ones or grieve with the support of friends and family. That’s why Marie Curie and over 60 organisations are leading a National Day of Reflection on Tuesday, March 23, one year since the first lockdown, to remember those who have died during the pandemic, from any cause and to show support for anyone who has been bereaved.
On this day, we would like to invite your readers to join a minute’s silence at noon. We also hope readers will also take a moment to reach out to someone they know who’s grieving and at 8pm to take candles and lights out on to their street for a minute’s remembrance.
As relentless as this crisis has been, it has also shone a light on the courage, resilience and solidarity of the nation. People have put their normal lives on hold for the good of the many. We trust an annual day of reflection will continue to support those who need it most. To find out more about the National Day of Reflection, visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/day-of-reflection.
Angela Taylor, Community Fund-raiser, Marie Curie
LIMITED USES FOR PARKING FEE CASH
In his letter of March 11, Cllr Drummond states that “West Suffolk Council also needs the car park income to balance the books. There is no magic money tree.” I will deal with each of these two sentences separately.
Firstly, in respect of Cllr Drummond’s assertion that West Suffolk Council needing to increase parking charges to ‘balance the books’, I would like to draw his attention to both the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and the high court case of The Queen on the application of David Attfield v The London Borough of Barnet  both of which set out that local councils, as Highway Authorities, do not have the power to impose charges in order to raise money for any other purpose other than the administration of the parking schemes in its area. Hopefully, Cllr Drummond, in his capacity as a councillor on the town, district and county councils is at the very least aware of this.
If the local authority raises an amount which exceeds the administration of the parking schemes it administers, then the authority does have the option to roll the surplus forward to cover the costs of future parking controls or may use the surplus for approved purposes such as contributing to the cost of off-street parking, (or where it appears to the local authority that there is sufficient off-street parking: contributing to public passenger transport services, road improvements, environmental improvements etc.)
What the local authority is not allowed to do is to set the level of charges in order to raise money to fund them. They may only use the surplus that results as a by-product of setting the level of charge that is necessary for ‘relieving or preventing congestion of traffic’. So I would ask Cllr Drummond clarify his comments regarding the need for ‘the car park income to balance the books.
In response to Cllr Drummond’s further statement of there being ‘no magic money tree’, the Conservatives do like this phrase, especially as a justification for not doing something which will affect the lives of ordinary people.
Craig Warren, All Saints' Road, Newmarket