Councillor asks why Ashby residents are being taxed twice for maintaining closed churchyards

By Ashby Nub News Reporter

11th May 2024 | Local News

St Helen's Closed Churchyard, Ashby - fully maintained by Ashby Town Council. Photo: Supplied
St Helen's Closed Churchyard, Ashby - fully maintained by Ashby Town Council. Photo: Supplied

An Ashby councillor has questioned why residents in Ashby, Castle Donington and Kegworth are being taxed twice for maintaining closed churchyards in North West Leicestershire.

At Tuesday's full North West Leicestershire District Council meeting, Labour councillor Dave Bigby asked finance portfolio holder, Nick Rushton, about the new policy introduced by the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition, which currently runs the Council, in their recent budget.

For many years, Ashby, Castle Donington and Kegworth town and parish councils have maintained their local closed churchyards and paid for this from their locally charged parts of the council tax.

Closed churchyards in the rest of the District have been maintained by the council and the costs passed on to the residents of each area through what is known as 'Special Expenses".

Special expenses for closed churchyards are not charged to Ashby, Castle Donington and Kegworth residents.

This year, the cost of maintaining the closed churchyards in the special expenses areas has been moved to the Council's General Fund, which is paid for out of the part of Council Tax charged to all households in the District.

That means that Ashby, Castle Donington and Kegworth residents are paying the full cost of closed churchyard maintenance (CCM) in their areas plus contributing to the CCM costs for the rest of the District.

Residents elsewhere are just paying for a proportion of the CCM costs outside Ashby, Castle Donington and Kegworth and paying nothing towards the costs in Ashby Castle Donington and Kegworth.

Holy Trinity Churchyard, Ashby - Fully maintained by Ashby Town Council. Photo: Supplied

In his question, Cllr Bigby described the new arrangement as "inequitable" and asked whether Conservative Cllr Rushton would correct the problem by making a special grant to the Town and Parish councils affected, a method used by other councils in this situation.

Cllr Rushton confirmed that this was indeed double taxation, but he did not intend to take any further action other than allow the chief finance officer to meet Town and Parish Councils "to discuss the issues highlighted".

He suggested that correcting the situation would introduce "an additional strain on the Council's financial resources".

Labour Cllr Alison Morley, who represents Castle Donington Park ward, went on to say: "This is a ridiculous situation. An arrangement that has been working well for many years, where each area paid for its own closed churchyard maintenance, has been ripped up for no good reason.

"Cllr Rushton claims it was due to the high cost of repairing a wall in Stretton, but there must have been a better way of dealing with that one-off problem than imposing double taxation on my ward residents for an unlimited time into the future."

Labour's Cllr. Carol Sewell, representing the Daleacre Hill ward which includes northern Kegworth, added:"My colleagues and I will continue to press for this injustice to be corrected by repealing this new policy or setting up a Concurrent Grant Scheme."

     

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