This is the time of the year when Bexley Council slips in its revised list of
fees and charges, usually well above inflation and as often as not all the most
regular charges up by more than they claim.
Two years ago when inflation was running at 1% it was claimed that charges would go up by 3%, most went up by 10% and a few, notably car parking season tickets rose by 50%.
Last year it was admitted that charges would rise by 10% but this year I have not so far been able to find a claimed average figure. A perusal of the proposed tariffs suggest that 10% is again the norm but with wide variations. Some have risen by close to 30% while one has actually gone down.
There was of course a public consultation on charging policy. Did you notice it? It was hidden in the current issue of the Bexley Magazine under the heading "Challenges and opportunities".
I missed it on a first read through (it is on page eight) and I was not alone. Only 74 people responded from which no clear conclusion could be drawn but there was a tendency to disapprove of exclusively on-line services and sympathy for spending on those in need of social care. You will therefore not be surprised to know that social care fees suffer the largest price increases of all. Home Care visits up 10% and the Brokerage Fee - whatever that may be - up 28%.
Library charges are all up at around the 10% mark and sports activity charges increase by anything from around 10% to 25% - mostly the former but a few as little as 2%. After imposing massively increased charges for funeral services in recent years, there are no increases in 2017/18.
A permit for wedding photography in parks rises from £33 to £40 and skip licenses go up by 25% to £45.
Under the Conservatives, Bexley has always had the most expensive car parking around despite what Cabinet Member Craske has claimed in the past and the 2014 election bribe of a cheap short stay fee appears to have been abandoned. It rises by another ten pence this year. (70 pence for half an hour.) Most fees go up by ten, twenty or thirty pence, well above the current rate of inflation.
Annual parking ֹ‘season tickets’ are extortionate and this year the discount for those who come into the borough to work has been removed.
The Bin Tax is unchanged although the introductory rate has of course gone. It represents a large increase in Council Tax but remains one of the lowest bin tax rates to be found anywhere.
My sister pays £68 a year for hers and was charged £29 for the bin. Her Council Tax Rate (same Band and both Tory controlled) is very slightly more expensive than mine. On the other hand, her nearest town car parks are free.