Villagers face 20% tax rise

Lakenheath Parish Council vice-chairman Ian Smith says matters beyond its control have forced a near 20 per cent rise in its share of council tax.

Although both Suffolk County Council and Forest Heath District Council have frozen their precepts, Lakenheath Parish Council has increased its precept by 19.8 per cent.

Cllr Smith said the parish council had been pushed into the position.

“What has happened is unfortunate and most of us are disappointed by this, but we have been strangled by the central government grant cuts,” he said.

“Both the county council and district council have been able to freeze their precepts as they have been able to retain parts of the grant, meaning any increases have to made by the parish council.”

Cllr Smith added grant cuts were not the only reason for the steep rise in the parish precept, among the biggest in the region.

“There are certain things we are obliged to do, including paying for the street lightning,” he said. “The electricity costs between £16,000 and £17,000 per year, and this year it has risen by eight per cent. We have two parish keepers and their salaries have increased by two per cent, while a lot of people forget about the running cost of things like lawnmowers.”

A saving will be made on the village’s public toilets in Wings Road, which shut for good as from April 1.

“We were only supposed to take the toilets on as a temporarily stop gap until Tesco arrived in the village,” said Cllr Smith. “It is costing us quite of bit of money to maintain them. Equipment needs replacing, as do several tiles on the roof. If people want them open they will have to speak to the district council.”

Parish Council chairman David Gathercole was not available for comment.