LETTER: Prize that is truly worth pursuing

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Your letters

With reference to the letter from Mr Bayliss in last week’s edition: as with any comments upon any form of strategy, it is always best that these are factually correct.

If they are not, the reader could well be swayed by the past status within the community of the individual making the comments into accepting those incorrect criticisms as being fact.

I would never have espoused a strategy of significant economic development as a means of future-proofing Horsham District Council’s (HDC’s) finances if that strategy was based upon only a small ten per cent benefit to HDC from any new business rated premises, as Mr Bayliss incorrectly pronounces in his letter.

For the record, the correct split gives HDC 40 per cent of the money while the county council gets ten per cent and the government 50 per cent and not as incorrectly stated by Mr Bayliss.

The true benefit to HDC therefore is very far from marginal and a prize I truly believe worth pursuing.

As an example, the possible benefit from the proposed north of Horsham development to HDC and thus to all of us as council tax payers, looks to be in the order of half to three quarters of a million pounds per year.

No matter what anyone may think of the government’s ‘Localisation of Business Rate scheme’ which gives us this benefit, the fact is that it is the financial tool all councils are compelled to work with until at least 2020 as central government searches for growth as a means of reducing borrowing and the deficit left by Labour.

The question is: ‘Does Horsham District Council as a financially prudent local authority use the legislation to our advantage as a means to be less dependent upon things like income from council tax, car parking fees or the green waste charge to balance the books?’

I see some people - totally wrongly in my view - saying that we don’t need economic development or that major businesses should go to Crawley but in order to continue the provision of quality discretionary public services the alternatives to business rate growth are simple but harsh:

Significant increases in council tax and all other fees and charges.

Or the axing of those quality services that make Horsham District the desirable place to live that it is.

In order to make sound decisions going forward, we all need to base our thinking upon fact - nothing else will do.

JIM RAE

(Con) HDC, Holbrook East ward; WSCC Roffey division; HDC Deputy Cabinet Member - Finance; WSCC Deputy Cabinet member – Residents’ Services; North Street, Horsham