LETTER: What do we get for our money?

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We have just had our Council Tax bill for 20170-18 and it has risen by 4.99 per cent.

The tax has risen. So by what percentage have the services we receive from our councils and public sector agencies also risen?

Our much-valued PCSOs have been removed from the town and ‘centralised.’ Instead of seeing them on our street we must now call them out – useful when the anti-social behaviour perpetrators, graffiti artists, petty thieves and drug users taking advantage of unpatrolled public spaces have upped and gone.

Our roads are riddled with very large potholes – over the past five years two of our vehicles have been written off thanks to road surfaces, with no recompense from the local authority.

No excuses about a hard winter please – we had one evening of occasional snowflakes and very little frost. Any repairs carried out seem to last about as long as an English summer.

Our roadside verges are choked with litter; some of it comprises fast food containers, cans and bottles but most of it – particularly large polythene wrappings – floats down from un-netted and unprotected refuse vehicles. It is not cleared up. Ever.

Our roundabouts are a disgrace – especially the ones with notices saying ‘sponsor this roundabout’. Why? Where are the planted and decorated public spaces we find 35 miles away across the Channel? One just outside Boulogne has a larger than life polar bear and an igloo. Another has Cleopatra’s Needle and an Egyptian theme. All have summer or winter bedding. All are neat and tidy.

Our cross-county bus service is wavering on the brink of reaching its final stop.

No notice is taken of our attempts, via the correct conduits, to ask the District Council to carefully consider where it wishes to place new housing. Parish councillors mean well and do their job but genuine concerns about overdevelopment are brushed aside. The homes will go where there is a largeish chunk of land for sale with little or no complex negotiation necessary – no other elements seem to be considered.

Our so-called ‘infrastructure improvements’ are a joke. There are no infrastructure improvements. Our schools must now consider enlarging year groups or doing away with non-essential curriculum subjects, such as sport or music. Our worries about speeding vehicles go unheeded. Like so many concerns, increasingly any form of enforcement is ‘back to us’: Neighbourhood Watch; local community or residents’ groups, Speedwatch volunteers, clear-up patrols kindly armed with a sharp stick and a large bag.

Finally, our old people have been placed in the hands of ‘private enterprise’, with the closure of local authority run homes in favour of establishments of dubious merit where charges equal those of Eton, Harrow or a decently run seaside hotel.

How our authorities have the nerve to levy these increased charges – with a noticeable reduction in the quality of services they deliver to us – is a mystery.

Just what do we get for our money? An explanation would be welcomed.

Mel Butcher

Hand-in-Cross