It would have been helpful if Susan Murray had spoken to Norman Baker’s office before she delivered her extremely long open letter to him through the letters page of your newspaper. Mr Baker has made it clear elsewhere in your paper that he supports efforts to reduce the impact on benefit recipients of the Government’s cut in Council Tax Benefit.
There is general agreement that exemptions on empty properties and discounts on second homes etc should go but this will cover just under half the £1m shortfall. A Panel of the District Council’s Scrutiny Committee, chaired by Lib Dem Cllr Sarah Osborne, is looking at the impact of different options for applying the balance of the reductions. But Lewes District Council still has an option to raise Council Tax and it has not yet closed the door on that.
Ms Murray says: “Local Lib Dems found something rather dodgy about Greens wanting to increase the town council’s element of the council tax.” Well, yes we did. She proposed that we should raise the precept this year by 2.5%, the same percentage as the Green administration in Brighton, without a supporting budget indicating what the money should be used for. That’s taxing the poor (and everyone else) just for the sake of it.
Finally, Susan Murray implies we will wimp out of attending the Stop the Cuts meeting on 12 October. I’ve long since accepted an invitation to attend and I look forward to being there.
Cllr John Stockdale
Lewes District and Town Councils - Bridge Ward