Ahead of the second Whitby Town Meeting/Assembly this month (Whitby Town Council itself meets only once every two months), today’s Letter to the Editor comes from Councillor Rob Barnett – revealing some basic facts and figures that every Whitby resident should know.
Value for Money
Loadsa Money (Harry Enfield)
As a local councillor, it is my duty to scrutinise the Public Purse. After all, any National or Local Government body only has our money to play with. Therefore, it is the duty of all Councillors to ensure we, the electorate, get value for money.
We are thus challenged to ask the question:
“Are we getting value for money from our local council?”
In this context, I have been scrutinising the Town Council Precept figures, that is, the money the Council levies upon every Council Tax payer to support the activities of the Council.
Looking at my own Council Tax bill for this year, the percentage increases in all areas (North Yorkshire Council, NYC Adult Social Care, NY Fire & Rescue Services, North Yorkshire Police) are clearly marked. It is easy to see that, overall, my total bill has risen by 4.4%. I will not argue with that, as these are necessary and vital services that affect us all.
However, the precept payable to Whitby Town Council has risen by 21.1%
Once again, scrutiny of the Council accounts reveals that the majority of our money goes on wages. How much does the Town Clerk receive? Why are we considering employing a person solely to answer Freedom of Information requests at a cost of £7,500+.
2023/24 Precept: £283,560 (21.1% increase)
2023/24 Staffing: £246,000 (13.89% increase)
2022/23 Overheads: £102,184.58
It is clear that, were it not for the Council’s commercial incomes (public conveniences – at 40p a pee – and a 60% share of the Pannett Art Gallery and Whitby Museum entrance fees), the Council would be running at a prodigious loss. And accomplishing nothing!
This is not acceptable.
After all, there are so many issues in the town that need fixing:
- Social housing
Many coastal towns have stepped up to the challenge – Whitby drags its feet. Hardly surprising that young people leave in droves.
Finally, on my regular walk around town, I noticed that the town clock chimed – but was fast.
About time we caught up!
Cllr Rob Barnett