Hysteria behind council tax claims
ANYONE reading the hysterical reaction to news that the government is planning to revalue homes for council tax could be excused for thinking the world is coming to an end.
ANYONE reading the hysterical reaction to news that the government is planning to revalue homes for council tax, could be excused for thinking the world is coming to an end.
We've had headlines screaming that council tax bills for the middle classes will treble.
We've had talk of revolt in the shires.
We've even had talk of poll-tax style riots.
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What a load of rubbish! This "storm of protest" seems to be whipped-up by those with a political motive trying to manipulate those who don't understand what is proposed.
The term "middle classes" in my mind doesn't apply to those living in mansions worth £620,000. And they are the only homes facing the trebling of their council tax bills.
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How many people do you know who live in a pile worth more than £620,000?
I checked through the Star's property pages, which had literally hundreds of homes for sale. Three were above this magic figure - a former rectory with a moat and 14 acres at Hasketon, a six-bedroomed house in half an acre in Bury St Edmunds and a six-bedroomed mansion overlooking Christchurch Park in Ipswich.
Are they "typical middle-class houses?" I think not.
People living in houses worth less than £130,000, and despite property value increases there are plenty in that category in this area, will actually pay less under the government's proposals.
Those in "average" homes - between £130,000 and £170,000 - would not pay any more.
And those whose homes are worth up to £230,000 - that's a four-bedroomed detached house in East Ipswich or Grange Farm in Kesgrave - would only pay about £100 a year more. That's hardly crippling!
I'm not sure that council tax is a fair tax - if fairness is the criterion then a local income tax would be fairer.
However I do have serious doubts about the amount of bureaucracy that would be needed if it was introduced. Would it not cause huge problems for employers who may have staff living in several different local authority areas?
If council tax is retained, it is right that properties should be revalued - and there's nothing wrong with the government proposals on that score.
SO the government has now identified what's really to blame for the all the social problems western society is facing - the 1960s.
Apparently the swinging 60s is responsible for today's anti-social behaviour and all the crime that's reported. I just don't buy that.
Without the 60s we'd still be hanging people for murder (and then finding out some of them were innocent once they're dead), jailing people for being gay, and forcing desperate women into backstreet abortionists.
Some people might like that kind of society - but not, I suspect, the majority.
Frankly the government would do better in the crime battle is to emphasise that crime is actually falling - it's the fear of crime that is running away.
It would be good if the government - and especially Home Secretary David Blunkett - emphasised that and spent less time pandering to the prejudices of the "It wasn't like this in the good old days" brigade.
WITH the closure of Ipswich rail tunnel, the fastest non-stop train from Manningtree to London takes 64 minutes. How impressive is that?
Maybe not as impressive as the fastest train between Ipswich and London (nine miles further) before the Hatfield accident. That took 59 minutes.