The leader of Wandsworth Council has criticised last week’s tax hike proposal from Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators amid the cost of living crisis.
The conservators want to increase the levy paid by 28,000 Wandsworth, Merton, and Kingston households towards the maintenance of the commons by a minimum 25% starting next year.
The conservators already increased the levy by 12.6% last year, to keep up with the rise in the Retail Price Index (RPI), which Council leader Simon Hogg had strongly criticised.
Hogg said: “The scale of this proposed increase, coming after last year’s unreasonable rise of almost 13%, is totally unacceptable.
“We simply cannot and will not support another increase on that level.”
For a property subject to Council tax band D, the suggested levy hike would come to approximately £9.05 per year, in addition to any annual inflationary increase.
This would mean the average annual levy paid by residents would rise from £36 to £45.
Levy-paying residents have expressed their concern about the potential new tax increase.
David Henderson, 60, who has lived in West Putney for 18 years, said: “We know that maintenance costs have gone up, but people’s wages haven’t.
“I know some people say it’s only £9 or £10, but that’s on top of what you’re currently paying. It’s not right!”
In a consultation letter sent to levy-paying households, the conservators said: “In the last year alone, we had to spend £59,000 on waste clearance, almost three times as much as prior to Covid.”
Through the new levy increase, the conservators want to raise £375,000 per year to keep up with increasing management costs of the commons.
Merton resident William Porter, 65, said: “Wimbledon Common has had a lot of extra wear and tear since the pandemic.
“It’s an unbelievable resort.
“For what it is it can’t be left to rack and ruins.”
Other Merton residents expressed being ready and willing to face a new levy hike.
Nick Wells, 51, said: “It’s a massive advantage to have Wimbledon Common on your doorstep. I see it as a privilege.
“So yes I would be willing to pay the levy.”
The conservators said levy-paying residents’ responses to the consultation letter must be received by October 29.
More information on the proposal can be found at: https://www.wpcc.org.uk/downloads/consultation/consultation-document-final.pdf
Featured image inset picture: Wandsworth Council