Queensmere on Wimbledon Common. Picture: Ben Brooksbank
December 14, 2023
The Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (WPCC) will be proceeding with controversial rises in the levy following the results of its consultation.
Over 79% of respondents to the survey held by the WPCC endorsed the proposed rises which are well above the rate of inflation.
5,969 levy-paying households participated which represents just 13% of those eligible. The Conservators say that this makes it statistically highly likely that the result would be repeated if the survey was held again.
The WPCC sent a consultation document to all 44,500 households in the levy-paying area and recipients were invited to respond online or by freepost. Of all consultation responses, 58% responded online and 42% responded via post. There was little variation between responses provided online or via post.
The consultation was conducted over a six-week during which key stakeholders, including the MPs for Wimbledon, Putney and Richmond Park, the local authorities of Kingston, Merton and Wandsworth, as well as the Wimbledon Society and Putney Society were invited to make representations.
Of the key stakeholders who responded, the proposed rises gained support from the Wimbledon Society, the Putney Society, Wimbledon’s MP Stephen Hammon and Sarah Olney MP for Richmond Park. Opponents included both borough councils and Fleur Anderson MP.
The WPCC says that comments provided by supporters of the increase often gave helpful suggestions on the management of the Commons.
Some of 1,259 respondents who expressed opposition also added comments most of which were on the basis of a rise being inappropriate at a time when the cost-of-living increase was already hitting many residents.
In response the WPCC said, “WPCC understands the rising cost of living is placing increased pressure on households. The impact of the proposed levy increase on households was taken into account when considering the proposed figure so that the increase proposed is the minimum WPCC feel is necessary to achieve the work set out in the Consultation Document. The levy is set by WPCC each year. WPCC is committed to keeping the levy under review to ensure it raises only what is needed to protect and maintain the Commons. WPCC has considered suggestions to stagger the increase over several years and is of the view that this option will not be sufficient to meet the current needs both financially and operationally of the organisation”
All exemptions and benefits to which residents are entitled for council tax purposes will also apply to the levy.
On 4 December, the Conservators met to consider the results from the consultation and to decide how to proceed in respect of the levy proposal. Given the high level of support from respondents and having considered the representations and comments made through the consultation process, the Conservators agreed to pursue a levy increase in line with the proposal and have now contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) about the matter.
A draft version of the consultation report and this was subsequently approved at their Board meeting on 11 December.
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