Voters are baffled by Tory election claims that council tax in Wiltshire has been frozen
Voters in the May 2 elections for Wiltshire Council are becoming increasingly confused by the apparently misleading information being delivered to them in leaflets by Conservative candidates.
In what appears to be a cross-the-country policy decision, the electorate is being told that their council tax has been frozen by Tory-controlled local authorities, as exclusively revealed in a letter to Marlborough News Online by local resident David Thornton.
He claims the election leaflet delivered to him by Stewart Dobson, the Tory candidate for the Wiltshire unitary authority standing in Marlborough’s East Ward, is factually incorrect and misleading because his own council tax has increased (See: Marlborough Elections - Misleading advertising by the Conservatives?)
The confusion is being caused because no distinction is being made between the budget decisions of Wiltshire and those of local town councils such as Marlborough.
And Councillor Andrew Ross, chairman of the town council’s finance committee, which raised the Marlborough precept by 3.73 per cent for the coming year, agrees.
“I am amazed by the statements that Mr Dobson is making to voters,” he told Marlborough News Online. “Things are indeed tough economically for everyone at the moment. So people know exactly whether or not their council tax is rising.
“They are not so naïve as to believe claims made at election times that are a factual nonsense. But listening to David Cameron in the Commons today it became clear that ‘Tories freeze you council tax’ is a now election policy across the land.
“And that we’re are all expected to believe it. They ought to apologise and issue a retraction so that the voters know the true facts.”
He added: “Why politicians delude themselves in this way is beyond reality. We keep being told that the coalition government has created 1.25 million new jobs, albeit most of them part-time at low pay rates, without being told that 600,000 mainly council workers have been made redundant.
“As Councillor Peggy Dow has pointed out, Wiltshire has reduced its council staff by 220, and there apparently more redundancies to come. And that all helps the claim that council tax has been frozen while, obviously, services are equally being slashed.”
“A freeze in council tax for five years” claim is also being promoted by Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton, who is contesting the Wiltshire Council seat in Marlborough West Ward.
Town councillor Richard Pitts, who has stood down at this election, told Marlborough News Online: “It’s disgraceful that the Tories don’t make it clear what they are talking about and try to confuse everyone.
“What really upsets me is that the Tories financially mismanaged the town council up to 2007 when this council came in. We had to fight to put matters right, which included a massive hike in the precept to give us some stability and legal reserves.
For them to say they are the ones that care about people and can handle the council tax is just complete rubbish.”