Group Discussions > RBKC requests a freeze of the Garden Levy for another year

The following is self-explanatory. It would be interesting to hear what other Committees in a similar position intend to do:

Dear Sir Malcolm, Councillors Mills, Lindsay and Faulks

You may remember that in October/November 2010, RBKC requested that the 46 garden committees in the Borough which raise levies under two Acts of Parliament freeze their levy for 2011/12 so that the Council could qualify for a £1.9 million rebate from central government for not raising council tax for the coming year.

Having complied both for 2011/12 and, following a similar request last year, for 2012/13. we were dismayed to receive the attached email from Nicholas Holgate yesterday. As you will see, he is requesting that we
once again consider freezing our levy.

There appears to be no question that garden levies do not form part of council tax and they are clearly labelled separately on council tax bills. They are kindly collected on behalf of the relevant gardens by the Council. When questioned at the time as to why the Department for Communities and Local Government had decided to lump the two together (when levies set by parish councils and town councils were specifically exempted), the principal reason given was that it was "administratively straightforward" to do so. This totally flies in the face of localism, a policy that formed a prominent plank of the Conservative platform at the last election.

To link garden levies in with RBKC's council tax puts the Council in an invidious provision as they naturally want to claim the rebate. However, it is equally unfair to garden committees, who are under an obligation to maintain the upkeep of their gardens and have no other source of income apart from their levy. Needless to say, the costs of upkeep have gone up substantially since 2010/11.

Any help that you can give in decoupling the two would be most gratefully received. In addition to other members of our Committee, I have copied in Holly Smith, Editor and Publisher of Garden Square News, who was at the forefront of this debate in 2010.

Kind regards

Tim Lebus

Chairman, St James's Gardens Garden Committee

"From: []
Sent: 15 November 2012 15:58
To: Neil Loden
Subject: St. James's Garden Precept 2013-14

Dear Mr Loden,

We recently sent you a garden levy form for 2013/14.

We have now received notification that the Government will pay the Council a one per cent ‘freeze grant’ for 2013/14 and 2014/15 if it sets its Council Tax at the same level as for 2012/13. This grant will be about £800,000.

Garden levies form part of the Council Tax set for the Royal Borough and therefore I am writing to you once again to ask whether you can keep your garden levy at the same level as for 2012/13. I can quite understand that you might need to increase it: but any such increase will require the Council to reduce Council Tax in order to qualify for the freeze grant.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Nicholas Holgate

Town Clerk and Executive Director of Finance

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea"
November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Lebus