Councillor calls for residents to break away from Stratton parish council
Swindon Advertiser – Monday 30th May
A REBELLION has been launched by a councillor who says thousands of residents are being overcharged on their council tax.
”As a local resident myself, I feel enough is enough.”
Swindon Council cabinet member Dale Heenan
He has written to residents urging them to form their own rebel parish council, or join neighbouring Covingham parish. If he gets 1,826 signatures of support, he can force a community governance review to kick-start the breakaway process.
Stratton parish council covers a large section of the Covingham and Nythe ward.
Coun Heenan estimates around 3,710 residents are affected.
In the letter to residents, he said: “Since I became one of your local borough councillors, the number one complaint from local residents in Coleview and Nythe has been the level of the Stratton Parish Tax.
“This year local residents will be paying over £70 a year more than those who live over the road in Covingham! As a local resident myself, I feel enough is enough.”
Stratton parish council has strong Labour links, but Coun Heenan denied he was making a political move.
He said: “What we’re trying to sort out here is what people are paying. It shouldn’t be about party politics.”
The difference between two Band D properties, one under Stratton and another under Covingham Parish Council, is just over £77.
Fellow ward councillor Richard Hurley (Con) said: “Stratton Parish doesn’t do any more for their residents than Covingham does for its residents. And Covingham is a lot cheaper.
“The way I feel is that in our ward, we’ve got different parishes. One parish does everything it wants to with X amount of money, and the other does what it wants to an awful lot cheaper. It’s just not fair for residents.”
But Teresa Page, chairwoman of Stratton St Margaret Parish Council, said the authority was one of the biggest in the country, and that residents get a lot in return for their higher rate of tax. They have discounted membership at the Grange Drive leisure centre and discounted burials when they die. As well as the leisure centre, the parish area has eight play areas, 12 open spaces, two cemeteries and two allotments, and 63 staff to look after it all.
She said: “The £77 difference is the equivalent of £2.07 per week.
“What I’d say to Dale Heenan is obviously if the people of Covingham decide to go that way, they’ll feel they’ll have the advantage of £2.07 in their pockets a week, but will lose out on a lot of facilities of Stratton. It would be sad if it happened but people have a right to decide.”