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Curb Local Authority spending

Comment 9th September 2010

One of the most basic freedoms is the freedom to spend your own money on whateverr you, personally, want.  Many local authorities arrogate this right to themselves, by imposing higher council tax to pay for the schemes wanted by small pressure groups.  In my area the town council caved in to demands froma small number of people for a civic theatre/arts centre.  In a referendum they won by about 1%, so since then the council has spent over £1,000,000 of taxpayers' money building and subsidising the place.  It is time this kind of thing was brought to an end – local authorities should be restircted in how much money they can spend on activitites that they are not legally required to carry out.  I would opt for a return to the old measure, one old penny in every pound of rates was the maximum allowed for "nice to have" spending.  Repeal and/or amend the legislation that set local authorities free to spend whatever they want on whatever they like.  Perhaps replace it with a standard of 1p in every £1 of council tax raised – much more generous than the old measure – but allow higher spending if, and only if, it is approved by a 75% majority of those entitled to vote in council elections.  That would bring them roughly into line with the requirments for extraordinary spending by private copanies, which have to get shareholder approval for such things as takeovers.

Why does this matter?

Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for others' enjoyment.  Every penny of extra council tax is a penny that the payer cannot spend on what he or she actually wants.  Waste on "pet schemes" must be eliminated in local government just as much as it must in central government.

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