Letters: Why should I pay to cover “open space” charges for other areas?

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Dear Editor,

As a resident of a new estate in Wootton, I pay an estate management charge which includes the management of the open spaces on my estate.

Developers can use management companies to avoid having to pay the Council to adopt land properly. The Government have failed to ban this practice, leaving residents across the Borough, and nationally, paying management company costs as well as their council tax.

I am astonished that the local Conservative Mayor is now asking me, and thousands of other residents in a similar situation, to pick up the bill for just one area of the Borough so they can have the “open space” element of their management charge paid for (in this one case it happens to be run by the council, but that is a technicality rather than a fundamental difference).

This means I – and thousands of other residents – will be paying council tax, our own open space charge, and covering the management costs of a selected number of other houses.

It gets worse though: residents in the urban, unparished area of Bedford Borough already pay more council tax for their open spaces – they pay extra council tax; it is simply how the law works and how the regulations are applied. And so they too will be paying twice.

It just so happens that for the two specific areas getting this special discount, paid for by everyone, most are represented by the Conservative Deputy Mayor.

The system of management charges is very wrong and is a national issue that needs resolving, but locally it is fundamentally unfair to exempt one group and make everyone else – villages and urban areas alike – pay the management charge for other residents on top of what they already pay for their own open space management.

Many residents across the borough are struggling to pay their own bills and now they are expected to pay the bill for selected residents in Great Denham and Kempston West on top of their increased council tax bill.

Even worse, it is not clear for residents in these areas whether this solves the problem of their title deeds referencing a management company (in their case the Council).

That is why I, and my Liberal Democrat colleagues on the Council, have used the “call in” procedure, which means the proposal will be looked at again and scrutinised by councillors from all parties not just the one-party Tory executive.

It is fundamentally unfair.

Sue Abood
Wootton
Councillor for Wootton and Kempston Rural Ward

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