Mole hits back in council tax row

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today hit back in the row over council tax bills in Suffolk.Stung into action by The Evening Star's report earlier this week, the Labour MP wrote to say why he felt council tax was not his "over-riding" concern.

IPSWICH MP Chris Mole today hit back in the row over council tax bills in Suffolk.

Stung into action by The Evening Star's report earlier this week, the Labour MP wrote to say why he felt council tax was not his "over-riding" concern.

He was desperate to hit back after the Star revealed that the county's Tory MPs saw it as a much higher priority.

Mr Mole has now written to us explaining that the reason he said council tax was not his top priority was because the majority of letters he receives are not about council tax.


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In fact, they are mainly about health issues, the international situation and animal welfare.

But, he said, he would "welcome a constructive and positive debate about the right way to either modify or replace the council tax."

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Here we publish Mr Mole's letter to us in full:

YOUR story and headlines could not be more wrong about my concerns at large council tax increases. You have misrepresented a statement of fact. I have received just 38 letters in my postbag on council tax – compared for example to 707 on health issues, 527 on the international situation and 303 on animal welfare. Despite this I have been working to address very obvious concerns about the tax expressed on the doorstep by people in Ipswich. Even before I became an MP I had said that I thought the Tories' council tax had run its course, being a regressive tax and a poor way of providing resources for vital council services such as schools, care for the elderly and the fire service.

Last year I met with minister for local government, Nick Raynsford MP to make the case for Suffolk and some of the changes that worked in the county's favour were accepted.

Just this week I met the same minister over breakfast to tell him how council tax was hurting groups such as some pensioners on fixed, lower incomes. Earlier in the year I pressed the minister for real and positive changes to come from his review of the balance of funding between central and local government and he assured me this would be the case.

I welcome the government's strong wish to see council tax held low next year and that Labour councillors in Suffolk are committed to delivering that. I would urge caution however.

As well as seeking to hold down the tax and deliver further efficiency savings, our councils must ensure they do not cut back on services that are the subject of the rest of my postbag: tackling anti social behaviour, support for the elderly at home, services to people with mental health problems, support for children with special educational needs and a better choice of homes to rent for Ipswich families. I welcome a constructive and positive debate about the right way to either modify or replace the council tax. On this I have heard nothing helpful however from any of the three Conservative MPs who I had the misfortune to share your front page with.

CHRIS MOLE,

Member of Parliament for Ipswich.

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