At around 2.30 am this morning, Michael Fabricant argued for Lichfield andother small District Councils to be exempted from rules forcing new Cabinet style local government and "Best Value" procedures which will cost Lichfield District Council around £200,000 to implement. In a deal done in the House of Lords, the Government recognised that their package of measures would "create a huge burden on councils and council tax payers" says Michael Fabricant. Accordingly around 1 in 5 councils with less than 85,000 population will be exempted.
But in the House of Commons early this morning, Michael asked "Why is thefigure arbitrarily set at 85,000? If the Government recognises that this new tranche of measures will put up Council Tax and create extra work and a secret style of local government, why are not more if not all councils exempted? In particular, Lichfield District Council covers a population ofaround 92,000. How was the figure of 85,000 chosen? Why not 100,000?"
Michael asked the Minister, Ms Hilary Armstrong: "Doesn’t she realise that she has united the Labour minority and Conservative majority on the District Council regarding this? Councillors in both parties have expressed their unease at these costly proposals. If the Government has already conceded the principle that this is an unnecessary burden on tax payers by exempting 20% of councils, why won’t she exempt them all or at least raise the limit to include Lichfield and save us all money?"
Unfortunately, the Government used its large Parliamentary majority to forceits way. "This latest piece of Government legislation made in the early hours means that either Lichfield District council tax payers will have to cough up an extra £200,000 or lose services", remarks Michael Fabricant.