Parish council hikes tax by 253%

Preston Bus service 12/12a, running through Longton, New Longton and Whitestake
Preston Bus service 12/12a, running through Longton, New Longton and Whitestake
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Longton Parish Council has defended its decision to increase its council tax precept by more than 253 per cent.

The proportion of the council tax bill paid to the parish council will rise from £7.65 to £27.01 for a Band D property.

It takes the total budget for the parish council from £23,200 to £83,000.

A deal has been struck with Preston Bus for the extra £60,000 to be spent subsidising the only bus serving Longton and New Longton. All subsidies paid by Lancashire Council, keeping the service running, are set to come to an end in April, but a final decision is yet to be made.

Coun Graham Gooch, chairman of Longton Parish Council, said: “The rise looks big against small figures, but it’s only put the precept up to 46p a week. For that you don’t just get a bus, you get all sorts of services like a lengthsman.”

He added: “When the village plan was developed three years ago, 88 per cent of people in New Longton said public transport was their priority, so knowing what LCC was proposing to do with subsidies, we decided to do something.”

Longton and New Longton residents now have the largest parish council bill in South Ribble. Four of seven other councils have decided not to raise their costs at all.

Penwortham Town Council, which collects the largest precept of £127,600 a year due to its size, decided not to increase the amount. Town manager Steve Caswell said the decision was made so not to add “unncessary pressure” on residents, and because the LCC budget has not been signed-off.

Unlike other precepting authorities, there is no cap on how much a parish council can charge.

A spokesman for the National Association of Local Councils said it was right parish councils responded to local needs, and insisted there is accountability through elected members, public meetings where residents can voice their opinions, the law for any fraudulent activity and audit investigations.