The Leader of Wealden District Council is Councillor Bob Standley. He will be pleased to answer any question you may have about Wealden District Council's policies, or other matters involving the Council, which you think are of interest to people living, working or visiting Wealden.
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Councillor Standley is the Conservative Leader of the Cabinet of Wealden District Council and has represented Wadhurst since 2004.
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Dear Councillor Standley,
I would wish to make the following observation with the email below to your council tax office: Due to the dreadful state of the housing market, it has taken from September last year to finally reach the point where my property has been sold. I have had an empty property discount from 02.09.12 to 02.03.13.
I called the council tax office a couple of weeks ago and spoke to a particularly unhelpful gentleman who's smugness and arrogance at being able to tell me there was no further discount available as I was "now being taxed for my empty property according to a vote by the councillors of Wealden". Whilst I appreciate that times are hard, perhaps Councillor Standley, you and your colleagues would like to bear in mind that I'm not some bloated buy-to-let investor with more money than sense. I purchased this property in 2000 after my divorce. I paid full council tax to Wealden for this property from 2000 to 2006 in my name (check the records). When I was finally able to put a foot further up the housing ladder again in 2006 I couldn't sell the house as the market was in an even worse state than it is now.
I therefore decided to rent until things improved. The house has provided a home for a young couple from 2006 till last Sept when they purchased their own property and moved out. They also paid full council tax (again check the records ). The property has been on the market with Lampons Estate Agent since - a young couple finally agreed to buy back in January. It has taken till now to deal with the legal process - I explained all this to no avail to Mr Unhelpful in the council tax office.
You have now received the sum of £120.26 for precisely nothing. The house has been unoccupied and waiting for the tedious legal process to take place. There hasn't been any refuse to collect, no children to educate or any other burdens on your council despite this you have received this money. In days gone past it was called highway robbery, the problem is you don't even spend the money on the highways! You could use it for light refreshments for the next council meeting!
I have just had an automated reply from your council tax office telling me that there'll be a delay to dealing with my email due to a high volume of enquiries. Perhaps the £120.26 can go towards some extra staff!
Yours joyfully that I don't have to deal with your council ever again.
Dear Mr McMinn
I am sorry to hear that you felt the officer you spoke to you was unhelpful. Our staff are normally praised for the way they deal with residents and I will of course pass your comments on to the relevant department.
With regard to detail of your email, the regulations changed on earlier this year when Council Tax Benefit was transferred from Central Government to Local Authorities but with 90% of the previous budget. This was part of the spending reductions necessary to balance the nation's books following the legacy of the last Government.
The Council had to make a difficult decision as to how it was to fund the 10% gap. The minimum amount of Council Tax Dscount was reduced to £5 ie if an applicant was entitled to £2 then they received no benefit - pensioners were protected and the balance of funding came from alteration to discounts such as Empty Properties where the discount was reduced from 6 months to 1 month. We also hope this will reduce the number of empty homes although I appreciate that you sought to ensure your property was not empty.
It may be little consolation that the rules apply to our own council houses. The finances on these are completely separate from the general Council fund.
Whilst council tax is collected to deliver local services, it is a tax and payable on property whether services are used. Not all residents use the planning service, free car parks or even leisure centres. The County are spending significant amounts on repairing the highways- there are 30 crews across the County repairing potholes alone.
As I said earlier I will pass your comments on to the relevant department and, whilst your comment may be tongue in cheek, we do not have refreshments at our meetings apart from tap water and no biscuits are provided.
Dear Mr Standley
Tonight in a party political broadcast on TV the PM stated that Tory councils are not increasing council tax. From 1 April I am now charged 50% of full council tax on two flats in Wealden currently undergoing renovation, whereas up to 31 March I was charged nothing. Would you agree that he was being, to say the least, a little economical with the truth ? I'd be interested in hearing your opinion.
Rex F Martin
Dear Mr Martin
The council tax has not been increased by either County or District but there have been significant changes to the regulations with regard to Discounts and Exemptions. The previous Council House Benefit scheme was operated by the Department of Works and Pensions but this was transferred to Local Authorities but with only 90% of the funding. Councils were allowed to alter the discounts including empty property discounts and properties under repair.
The Council had to make some difficult decisions to balance the budget. It may be little consolation that our own properties naturally come under the same rules and empty Council properties are chargeable at 100% after 1 month and properties undergoing renovation the 50% you mentioned in your e-mail. Council owned houses are financed in a completely separate account from council tax.
David Cameron’s broadcast was referring to the overall rate of council tax which was correct and indeed the County and District have frozen council tax, with extra funding available from the Government, for the last 3 years.