BMH Online


Day 7,

For some reason, while I was cycling along with a few errands to do this morning, I thought about Council Tax and that it funds, in part, our local libraries.

I'd been a frequent library-goer since childhood, but by the time Covid hit I had stopped going; I had enjoyed browsing the books in a couple of particular sections to see what might 'jump out at me' that day, and found it useful to be able to request the occasional book that I couldn't justify buying online.

During Covid the Council had meddled with a few of our services, such as requiring us to book visits to the recycling centres in advance, or, with the libraries, disallowing our access, and instead requiring us to get in touch to order books, which would then be left in a bag for us to collect. This was not ideal for those of us that want to browse, or even enjoy a few moments of friendly chit-chat with the librarians.


Even once Covid had passed I wasn't certain if the library service had returned to normal, or if, like the doctors surgeries, still operated in stupid and unhelpful ways (again, trying to prevent us making a personal visit, which in the case of me "falling down a mountain" last year, put me off getting checked over).

One of today's Radio 2 topics was about asking this question: "Would we agree to pay more council tax to retain such services?" In addition to libraries it also included swimming baths.

My short answer is: no.

I am irritated by my Council Tax bill, which is somewhere in the region of 1/5th of my annual income these days, and I don't earn a lot. All it appears to go on is refuse/recycling collections, although in reality it does go to a lot more. Here is what my local council lists on their website:

 - children's social care
 - waste collection and processing
 - support for the elderly and vulnerable people
 - schools, education and youth services
 - preventing homelessness
 - maintaining car parks and open spaces
 - roads, highways and streets
 - planning and building control services
 - coroners, registrars, courts and elections
 - street cleaning and flood defences

If I had children of my own, or elderly parents making use of council-funded facilities I would probably feel happier about where all my money was going.

As it turns out, three of my region's libraries, including the one nearest to me have closed during the past few years (fortunately we're still left with seven for an area of 276sq.mi, and a population of ~70,000 people); these three were under threat for a while but my nearest one had actually closed just prior to Covid hitting, it ultimately  got taken over by a local community group... (I thought this is what the councils were supposed to be!)

In addition to local people therefore already paying more for this premises to stay open, many also pay more for waste collection due to the council, after providing everyone with an extra "free" garden waste bin some years ago, now charge separately for this privilege. Thankfully this is an opt-in service, so I dispose of my garden waste through other means. There is also car-parking costs (even though the list above states "maintaining car parks"), which I avoid, and while the list above states "roads, highways and streets", as a car owner I also pay vehicle tax, which in my mind is also unfairly high for me, and should be what goes to the up-keep of the roads.

There are some people that claim we are not legally obliged to pay Council Tax, along with electricity bills, and for the privilege of driving a car, and while on the one hand they put forward a case I might agree with, while I can still see some of where my money goes and fear repercussions if I was to stop paying for these things while I can still actually afford to do so, I guess I'll just keep paying up.

This page was supposed to be more about books, but ended up being a rant about Council Tax! I'm currently reading:

[Read more here]