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Bobbing and Hartlip residents to see 150% parish precept rise following Swale council tax increase

Some residents are set to see a portion of their council tax increase by more than 150% from April.

Two parish council precepts in Swale have increased by more than £30 a year due to “increased IT costs” and “recreation equipment funding” among other things.

Swale council is based in Sittingbourne. Picture: Google
Swale council is based in Sittingbourne. Picture: Google

The precept is the part of council tax that goes to a parish council.

In Bobbing, near Sittingbourne, a band D household paid £19.25 towards the parish council in 2023/4 but will now have to pay £52.58 in 2024/5 - that's a 173.14% increase.

In Hartlip, a band D household paid £21.69 towards the parish council in 2023/4 but will have to pay £54.15 in 2024/5 - a 149.65% increase.

Bobbing Parish Council did not respond to KentOnline’s question about how such a steep increase could be justified but Hartlip Parish Council’s clerk, Clive Henley, explained his council’s decision was to ensure the authority would “remain financially stable” following “increasing costs everywhere”.

The council tax bill is made up of a tax demand for up to six areas, this includes Kent County Council (KCC), Kent County Council Adult Social Care, The Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent & Medway Fire & Rescue, the borough council and the local parish council if you live somewhere which is part of a parish.

At the budget meeting for Swale council back in February it was confirmed that Band D properties bills would be increasing.

The Bobbing parish precept has risen by more than 150%
The Bobbing parish precept has risen by more than 150%

For KCC the amount would be £1,610.82 a year (up 4.99%), for the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner it will be £256.15 a year (up 5.35%), for Swale Borough Council it will cost £200.70 (up 2.95%), for Kent Fire and Rescue Authority it will be £89.91 (up 2.99%) and for town and parish councils (where applicable) an average of £57.99 a year will be expected (up 11.58%).

The Hartlip Parish Council clerk added: “The councillors worked through the budget carefully, analysing the costs in order that services residents appreciate were protected; one of these is the Munns Lane Recreation Ground and children's play area, which is entirely funded by the parish council.

“The parish council of course has to achieve a delicate balance between the cost of meeting the needs and expectations of the parish and its residents, while ensuring the financial burden on our community remains reasonable.

“We have all seen increasing costs everywhere for some time now and the parish council is no exception.

“Together with new regulations and withdrawal of free services we now need to implement a substantial increase in your annual parish council tax to ensure we remain financially stable and be able to meet the costs and expectations of the parish.”

Hartlip's parish precept has risen by more than 150%
Hartlip's parish precept has risen by more than 150%

Parish councils can provide open spaces, play areas and monuments.

Unlike borough and county councils, they receive no funding from the government. They rely solely on what residents pay via the parish element of council tax.

The Hartlip Parish Council clerk explained that some of the key costs the authority has had to budget for this year include the renewal of the defibrillator, its fly-tipping contingency, the increased costs on estate management, its need to meet the health and safety requirements of the play equipment on the recreation ground, maintenance of the parkland - including boundary fencing, new costs to meet government requirements of parish councils, funding for improved recreation equipment and increasing IT costs.

Resident’s individual bills will depend on their council tax band but as an example, an individual property cost for an average band D property for the annual Hartlip Parish Council precept of £20,000 equates to £54.15 per year or £1.04 per week.

The clerk added: ”We acknowledge that this decision may come as a burden to some within our community.

“We deeply regret any hardship this may cause and assure you that this decision was not made lightly.

Council tax bills are to rise in Swale. Stock Image
Council tax bills are to rise in Swale. Stock Image

“Our goal is to maintain and improve the vibrancy and sustainability of our parish and community while upholding the quality of services and support that each resident deserves.”

But one Bobbing resident thinks they are not getting good value for money

Paul Branson, 57, of Sheppey Way, has lived there for two years and works at the papermill.

He said: “I don’t know what we get from the parish council and it's definitely not good value for money.”

“We don’t receive anything from the parish council so why should we have to pay more.”

Mr Branson hopes the money will be put towards targeting fly-tipping in the area and added: “There’s a lot of fly-tipping going on.”

Paul Branson, of Sheppey Way, Bobbing
Paul Branson, of Sheppey Way, Bobbing

Retired Susan Ivell, 72, has lived in Bobbing since 2002.

She said: “I have everything that I need and so does the community I think, we have police, the fire service and all the things we need.

“I think they do support people who need support.

“I think the money is well spent and I was expecting it to be far more than what it was so that’s got to be a bonus for us hasn’t it.

“The parish council wrote to us as to what they are doing and aren’t doing, and that’s right, and if you don’t take any notice that’s your problem not mine.

“Given that I’m of the older generation and I don’t work, yes we all have to be careful with what we do but what we have to be appreciative of is they think of everybody and everybody’s got a portion.”

Kent County Council is based at County Hall in Maidstone
Kent County Council is based at County Hall in Maidstone

Although Hartlip and Bobbing residents have seen the biggest hike in parish precept costs, they are still not the highest in the borough.

Boughton-Under-Blean residents with an average band D property will see an increase of 28.82% for their parish precept, substantially less than the increases in Hartlip and Bobbing, but they will be paying £127.97 a year.

Those living in Faversham with an average band D property will see just a 9% increase for their parish precepts but will be paying £90.25, almost £40 more than those in Hartlip and Bobbing.

The lowest parish precept in Swale is in Tunstall near Sittingbourne, where band D property owners have seen a 0.74% decrease in their parish precept and pay just £10.71 a year.

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