It's a tax hike outrage

TODAY The Evening Star calls to account the county council which has turned on the very people it is supposed to represent and protect.Today, this newspaper says that in proposing a whopping 18.4 per cent hike in council tax bills, Suffolk County Council is unjustifiably hammering ten of thousands of people.

TODAY The Evening Star calls to account the county council which has turned on the very people it is supposed to represent and protect.

Today, this newspaper says that in proposing a whopping, staggering, 18.4 per cent increase in council tax bills, Suffolk County Council, its leaders and its highly-paid mandarins, are unjustifiably hammering tens of thousands of people.

After three years of inflation-smashing Suffolk council charge increases – 7.3 per cent, 6.9pc and 12pc – the latest increase – nearly SEVEN TIMES the rate of inflation – is wholly unjustified.

It takes too much EXTRA money out of people's pockets and cannot, we believe, be justified.

Today this newspaper, the only public voice so far to speak out on the issue, says enough is enough – and our representative county councillors must act on behalf of the people – and reject this enormous rise.

When taken in consideration with INCREASED government funding, Suffolk's amazing rise – described as aimed at protecting and improving services – further beggars belief.

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In the last week we've investigated the background to Suffolk's position – and have found serious disquiet in the political and administrative ranks. Our inquiries, which will be detailed throughout the coming days and weeks, have worried us enormously.

So today we are launching Council Watch, an ongoing crusade to find out who exactly is grabbing hold of your money - and why they want more and more of it.

On your behalf we'll be asking the questions, that will have the spin doctors spinning:

* We'll be asking the government if they are happy with the Suffolk bombshell - after all they have sent more central funds our way.

* We'll be asking if Suffolk County Council, which employs 27,000 people, has grown too big, with too many highly-paid administrative jobs.

* We'll be asking if two-tier local government in our region has gone passed it sell-by date

* We'll be asking "what next?" With the lead from Suffolk County Council, what will the rest of the councils in our area levy? Don't be surprised if Suffolk's whopping rise leads to major rises from the district councils which cover your area.

* And, in an era when politicians are worried about people becoming disenchanted with the whole process of democracy, we'll be asking if county councils like Suffolk have been asking for one rise too many?

As we ask questions of your behalf we know:

* the spin doctors will rapidly emerge.

* that we'll be attacked for our stance

* that we'll lose friends and be attacked in certain cosy circles.

But it is not our job to stand idly by while Suffolk people, whose wages have increased by around three to four per cent as the council bills have rocketed - get huge extra amounts of cash taken from them.

Back-door taxation such as this takes money which people could be used for other vital purposes and on which they can levy their own judgement.

Along the way we'll be looking for the stories which bring these increases into focus.

And, for balance, we'll be telling you of some of the marvellous, value-for-money, work that goes on under the wing of our county council.

* We want to hear from you. Let us know your stories of council problems - or praise. Write to Council Watch, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, e-mail or visit the forum on this site

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