Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I started the day with a very useful meeting on our plans for a Go Bananas event for Fairtrade Fortnight. It looks as though we'll get good support from Stockton Council's events team this year along with the town centre management team. It's so refreshing to work with people who are used to listing all the people who need to be involved in something and thinking about how to get the press interest that we need. I hope it all comes to pass! Now I have a list of people to speak to or email and get their agreement to doing things and the promise of another meeting in a couple of weeks.

There was just time for a quick visit to Municipal Buildings to check on e-mails and print off papers for a meeting on Friday before returning home to do some work there. I walked into the house to the sound of the phone ringing - a local radio station wanting an interview on the report published by Lib Dem MP Julia Goldsworthy on the number of people being taken to court for non-payment of Council Tax bills. As she says, it's really important that councils distinguish between those who can't pay and those who won't pay. It's also important for those who are paying, even when it means going without something else, that everyone who possibly can pay does. Otherwise the bills have to go up for the rest and it becomes a vicious circle. Either that or service levels go down, and not many people would be happy with that solution.

Stockton Council does have a policy of pursuing non payment and if necessary taking people to court. Although no-one would claim that it's a perfect system it's certainly not a bad or nasty system.

Of course, if only the local taxation could be based on income rather than one asset (a dwelling) it would be much fairer. But only the Liberal Democrats promote fair taxation so we won't get it for a few years yet.

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