A reader has been in touch to blast the council’s handling of the shower charge issue.
The reader said: “Is John Alexander really maintaining that the decision to remove the shower charge lies not with the council but with the tenants?
“Who in their right mind would vote for higher charges? That’s akin to turkeys voting for Christmas.
“If the council has to rely on the income currently generated by this grossly unfair tax, then the simple solution was to offer tenants only options two and three when consulting on rent rises – because the preferred option was always going to be one, given it was the smallest increase and those paying the tax are in the minority.
“If Mr Alexander and his colleagues have been crystal clear for several years that they’d like to remove the tax, why haven’t they just done it?
“They should stop bleating about the need to reduce costs such as staff by £500,000 or increase income by increasing rents. The rents increase every year, that’s a given.
“If you’d reduced the options available, the problem would have been solved, albeit over the next five years.
“Scaremongering that staff costs would have to be reduced – as if that’s the only other option – by the £500,000 the council has been ripping off those paying the tax for too many years now is typical of someone not interested in looking at other alternatives.
“That being the case, it’s hard to believe they’d like to remove the tax.
“Within their own plan it’s stated that in the general capital grant the council has flexibility to allocate the grant to reflect its service priorities and the greatest need.
“Those would appear to be vanity projects, such as the hotel on Site 6 at the Waterfront, which most Dundonians were opposed to – yet the council is going ahead with it regardless.
“It expects a significant city dividend as a result but has made no allowance for it.
“Why does the council not put its money where its mouth is and account for what it expects this to be, and wipe out this charge or defer some of the other planned spending?
“There are plenty of options available, eg knock £500,000 off the millions planned on new housing, roofing, windows, heating, installation of charging points or new computers.
“If all else fails, the 2,200 paying the tax need to ensure they vote on the options next year. If they had done so last time, the charge would already be in the process of being phased out.
“I do believe, however, if the council was really interested in removing this charge, it could be done with a little redeployment of existing resources in one fell swoop, not over five years.”
Councillor Alexander previously told the Tele: “The choice to remove the charge is not the council’s, it is the tenants.
“In this year’s rent consultation, there were three options for tenants to consider.
“Options two and three both indicated the phasing out of the charge and its ultimate removal.
“Unfortunately, out of the 2,282 tenants who responded – more than 15% of the tenants – the majority did not support these options.
“My colleagues and I have been crystal clear for months, even years, that we want to see the charge removed entirely.
“But it isn’t our decision, it’s tenants.
“It was a voluntary scheme from 2007 to 2011 and was the choice of the tenant at that time.
“It’s important to emphasise that those with health issues can apply for showers through occupational therapy services without this charge.
“It applies to tenants generally, not to the elderly and those with disabilities.
“Council housing is fully funded from rents and charges – it can’t be subsided by council tax.
“Therefore, to remove the charge we either need to reduce costs such as staff by £500,000 or increase income by increasing rents.
“We legally must balance that budget.”