Tuesday 20 January 2009
Tomb Tax Trashed
This article has been updated. See below.
Plans to increase children’s burial charges by 10% were sensationally shelved at last night’s Cabinet Resources Committee, following a campaign led by Barnet Council Watch.
The official reason given by leader Mike Freer is that the report had not been signed off by the appropriate Cabinet member (Brian Coleman) who had asked for the item to be dropped pending further discussions with officers.
Mr Stuart Murray, Director of Planning Housing & Regeneration, told the committee: “We are trying to ensure that…our fees and charges are reasonable….whilst also maximising income for the council in terms of its proper budget management approach.”
Shouldn’t the objective of a Conservative council be to minimise expenditure rather than maximise income? Mr Murray - the man who doesn’t like suburbs - appears to be very off message.
Be that as it may, this is a stunning victory for citizen journalism. Those who scoff and scorn at bloggers will ignore this u-turn by the council at their peril.
Power to the people!
UPDATE: According to the Barnet Times, Cllr Coleman says that officers “failed to alert him” about these charges but the report was made public on 6th January, so why did it take nearly 2 weeks for him to do something?
Now he says that the council will be looking for an inflation linked charge.
But the council is freezing charges for weddings and civil partnerships. If they can afford to do this, why not for children’s funerals too? Could it be because dead children don’t have a vote?