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Councillor resigns over council tax hike

PUBLISHED: 16:15 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:00 24 January 2018

Former leader Graham Minshull (left) and former mayor Mike Bardwell have both resigned from Diss Town Council. Photo: Contributed

Former leader Graham Minshull (left) and former mayor Mike Bardwell have both resigned from Diss Town Council. Photo: Contributed

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A councillor has resigned after a town decided to levy a 13.6pc increase in council tax against its residents this week.

Angela Sykes, Corn Hall director, with former Diss town mayor, Mike Bardwell, right, and Graham Minshull, former leader of Diss town council, in the main hall in the Corn Hall after its refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAngela Sykes, Corn Hall director, with former Diss town mayor, Mike Bardwell, right, and Graham Minshull, former leader of Diss town council, in the main hall in the Corn Hall after its refurbishment. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mike Bardwell, 56, a two-time mayor of Diss, had been on the town’s council for a decade before stepping down over the contentious tax hike.

He said: “I wasn’t happy about the way it was going and I wasn’t happy about the precept increase.

“I knew I couldn’t do anything to change it and I couldn’t endorse it and this was the final straw.”

Councillors approved the council tax increase on Wednesday, January 17, which will see the average bill for Band D property in Diss rise from £163.92 to £186.27 per year.

The reality of the increase means residents will be paying an additional £1.86 per month, totalling just over £22 annually for each household in Diss.

Part of the money raised by Diss Town Council from the suggested increase would go towards staff salary rises.

Mr Bardwell also pointed out that changes in how the council is run has affected his resignation.

He said: “In the years I’ve been on the council, we’ve delivered a huge amount and I’m really happy with the Corn Hall.

“We used to sit around tables and have discussions but that doesn’t seem to happen any more.

“Instead they go and decide what happens behind the scenes when people might not agree with what is going on.”

Diss Town Council has faced a number of resignations over the past year, in part due to the access to councillors social media facilitates.

Mr Bardwell added: “The unhelpful comments from members of the public also factored in my decision to stand down.

“Most people are reasonable but a lot of people who put comments on Facebook can be ignorant and we get criticised.”

Fellow former councillior Graham Minshull, who resigned last month, said: “The amount of abuse you receive as a councillor has increased and after trying to do your best. I don’t think it’s fair to be abused.

“Another issue we have got is the rise in social media, people will put things on social media that they would never say to someone’s face.”

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