To the Editor of the Henley Standard
Your story on Council Tax rises (Mar 1st) reports that under HRG, Henley Council is levying a precept rise which is “below the average of other Town and Parish councils in South Oxon”. The average Band D council tax for Henley will be just under £96 for 2019-2020.
HRG has always committed to keeping Council Tax over a 4 year period at or below inflation. HRG also commit to running a balanced budget over a four-year cycle. Over 2011-2015 HRG achieved a total surplus of £84k. HRG’s sound, prudent budgets delivered increased spending and improved services while maintaining the council’s investments which continued to rise in value.
This all changed in 2015 under a Conservative-controlled Henley Town Council. Their first budget was an eye-watering deficit of £278k for 2016-17.
Fortunately, HRG regained control of Henley Town Council in 2017 and reintroduced financial discipline to obtain value for money and improve services. HRG reduced the deficit to £79k in 2018-2019, with a budget deficit of £47k projected for 2019-2020. This is prudent financial management by HRG.
Similar lessons are being learned the hard way at SODC. In 2015 the council cut its council tax by 3%*. In 2016 it was frozen**. This financial irresponsibility has caused significant problems with a proposed budget deficit of £2m despite increasing SODC council tax by 4.3% (and 4.4% last year).
It is interesting that Margaret Thatcher’s view that “The trouble with Socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money” applies to profligate Conservative councils at Town and District.
HRG remains the party of sound finances and improved services.
Cllr Ian Reissmann
Chair Finance Strategy & Management, Henley Town Council 2011-2015