A LEADING Bromsgrove Conservative has hit out at ‘enormous’ tax increases being imposed by parish councils ‘for filling village flower boxes and dressing the maypole.’

While Bromsgrove District Council has been criticised by some for a 2.19% increase in their council tax, he says two local parish councils are increasing theirs by a ‘staggering’ 37%.

He said one of the councils is chaired by a candidate for the Labour party, who had called for a freeze on the district council tax.

Councillor Michael Thompson says these councils should ‘not have the right’ to increase taxes like this ‘in an economic crisis’ and they should be controlled by the district authority.

The two big local rises are in the Alvechurch and Catshill parishes, while Hagley and Beoley are raising theirs by just under 11% and 10%.

Councillor Thompson compares that with the district’s 2.19% and says the big parish council rises have ‘slipped through the net.’

"I appreciate parish councils do some limited good work but, really, what do they do?

“We all saw the Handforth PC video - whilst many people expressed surprise, most of us who have had the misfortune to sit through a PC meeting thought 'yeah, that's about right.'

“There are some excellent PCs but they should not have the freedom to make tax hikes like this, especially in the middle of an economic crisis - they have little power, and filling the village's flower boxes or dressing the maypole is not going to help the people who are feeling the smack of this pandemic imposed recession."

"Surely, the way forward is for the district council to set limits on the parish precept."

While four parish councils have increased their element of the council tax by more than 10%, eight of them have imposed no increase and another three have limited their rise to below 2%.

The District Council increase of 2.19% equates to a rise of about £5 a month for an average Band D taxpayer.

The Alvechurch and Catshill increases equate to an average of £22 and £8 respectively for the whole year.

Clent levies the highest tax of all the parish councils, charging an average £91 a year.

The annual District Council tax bill will be £233 a year.

The average council tax bill for people across Bromsgrove is set to be £1,933, a rise of over 3%.

On top of district and parish council charges, it is also made up of bills from the county council (by far the largest element at £1,344) plus Police and Fire services.