Desborough residents pass vote of 'no confidence' in council over 400% tax rise

The chairman of Desborough Town Council, Cllr Allan Matthews
Image caption The chairman of Desborough Town Council, Councillor Allan Matthews, says he will not stand down after the vote of no confidence

Residents of a town whose council tax levy was increased overnight by 400% have passed a vote of no confidence in their town council.

A parish poll was held on Thursday after Desborough Town Council decided to increase its annual tax levy from £19.10 to £96.98.

More than 2,200 residents voted, a turn out of 27% and the vote was passed by a majority 95% .

Voters also called for more public consultation over future tax increases.

'A sad situation'

Kevin O'Brien, who proposed the motion, said he was delighted with the result, but said it was "quite a sad situation that we had to resort to a town poll to get the message across".

"The community has come together as a whole and we've made it very, very clear we're unhappy with what's going on currently," he added after the result.

Image caption Initial calls for the poll were made at a public meeting in May

"We want them [the council] to come to us and talk."

The poll does not have a legal impact on the council but those who voted hope it will encourage the council to consult with them before deciding on tax increases.

Analysis by Tom Barton, BBC political reporter

A parish poll is an official vote - a mini referendum that allows local people to express their anger (or satisfaction) with a decision taken by their Town or Parish Council.

And, although it doesn't hold the legal weight of a full referendum, it can still send a powerful message to local councillors.

And yesterday the message from the voters of Desborough was one of dissatisfaction with the Town Council's approach to increasing their council tax bills.

The Council may point out that only 27% of people voted - but 95% of those who did said they had no confidence in the Town Council.

To put it another way - in the five hours from 4pm to 9pm yesterday one person in every four in Desborough left their house, went to a local polling station, and put a cross next to a box marked "no confidence". That will be food for thought for those running the Council.

'Not standing down'

The chairman of Desborough Town Council, Councillor Allan Matthews, said he will not stand down after the vote of no confidence.

"We've been elected on a four-year programme and we are staying for the four years... If it is the voters' wish that we don't get elected next time then that's their decision.

"We have said in our manifesto what we are going to do, and we are going to carry it out. And I think we have the support of the majority of the people in the town."

He said there would be no change to the tax hike and said the money will be spent on additional car parking spaces in the town and some improvement facilities for children.

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