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Mayor blasts 'scandal' of Marlow subsidising High Wycombe
TAXPAYERS in Marlow will be in revolt when they realise the 'immoral' amount they are paying to effectively subsidise High Wycombe town centre, a councillor says.
Princes Risborough Mayor Gary Hall has launched an attack on the way the current system operates, claiming it is intrinsically unfair on rural residents in areas such as Marlow, Lane End and his own town.
Whilst Marlow and Risborough have town councils, High Wycombe does not.
Instead it has High Wycombe Town Committee, connected to Wycombe District Council.
Cllr Hall, independent, pointed out administration costs for Marlow Town Council, which he said does an excellent job, are about £200,000 per year.
This is paid for by Marlow residents - but the same taxpayers are paying for High Wycombe too, he said.
Cllr Hall, speaking at a public meeting, said band D properties in Marlow and High Wycombe pay exactly the same in council tax, apart from for the precept to cover services.
Yet, he said, the £18,000 the committee pays towards services is "virtually nothing" meaning the costs are picked up by taxpayers across the district.
Cllr Hall called this a 'scandal' and said: "The rural parts of the district are paying more council tax than they should be, and High Wycombe town is underpaying, this is immoral.
"High Wycombe is four or five times the size of Marlow, you could reasonably expect the administration costs to be pro-rata and perhaps in the region of £1,000,000 per annum, however I am willing to be reasonable and accept that figure may be as low as £500,000.
"Even so this would mean over a ten year period WDC might be shelling out £10million for the administration of High Wycombe's local services while providing no such service for its parishes and this just isn't fair."
Cllr Richard Scott, representing Marlow, Conservative, said: "Cllr Hall makes a good point that in practice the residents are paying towards the administration of High Wycombe town centre, I can't argue with that, it's a fact.
"I think he's saying we (Marlow) pay twice - once for the town council and for the district so yes in theory we are subsidising High Wycombe town centre but this is part of the district council precept.
"I suspect most residents are unaware that High Wycombe doesn't have its own town council or separate precept for the centre of High Wycombe."
The committee's costs come from the district council's Democratic, Legal and Policy Service budget.
Cabinet Member Cllr Jean Teesdale, Conservative, said: "The way that the finances are worked out has been in practice for some time and is a more complex picture than has been painted. That being said, I do understand Cllr Hall’s concerns. As I said at the meeting, I will look in to the matter further."