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Friday, July 27, 2007

The art of spin

Checking through the website of the South Wales Evening Post tonight I came across this article from a few days ago.

Neath Port Talbot Council has long had a reputation as a high-taxing authority. For many years it has had the highest Council Tax in Wales. This is something that the current leadership is anxious to put right, however short of cutting tax bills immediately, there is no quick way to achieve this goal. It will take a number of years of below-inflation rises, at a rate less than that imposed by other Councils.

The alternative is to try and convince local residents that things are moving more quickly than they think. Thus, after each Council Tax increase the controlling Labour group have distributed leaflets claiming that they have out-performed their neighbours in keeping bills down, even though they continue to charge more for Council services than anybody else.

Now they have adopted a new tack, they are claiming that their average bill is nearly £250 below the highest bill in Wales. A rather convenient report by the Halifax Building Society has shown that at £889, Neath Port Talbot has the 11th lowest bill in Wales. This compares to Monmouthshire which tops the table with £1,130.

Fortunately, one commentator on the Evening Post website has seen through this ruse:

"Comparing the average Neath Port Talbot Council tax bill with that in Monmouthshire is the slickest piece of political spin I have seen in a long time. The reason why the average bill in Neath Port Talbot is £250 below that in Monmouthshire is because they have bigger houses. Thus more taxpayers live in band D, E, F, G and H houses and thus pay more than the vast majority of people in Neath and Port Talbot who live in band A and B houses. The reality is that Neath Port Talbot still has the highest Council tax in Wales and has a long way to go to put that right no matter how its leader spins it."

It was a nice try.
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