Like many residents in my area I have just received a letter from an organisation offering to check the council tax banding of my house. The letter suggests that other houses in my street have a lower tax banding, which is hardly surprising as there are houses of different design (terraced, semi detached, detached, flats) and age. They say they will check my council tax banding and claim a refund on my behalf if I have been incorrectly banded. The fee for this if I/they win is a mere 30% of any refund. Oops, sorry, that should be 30% + VAT – not immediately obvious and buried in the small print.
If you have received similar letters dump them in the recycling bin!
If you think your property is in the wrong band there is a link to a page where you can appeal against the banding, but think twice before doing it. The reassessment might decide that you should be in a higher band. And in one of my local forums someone confessed to appealing against their banding because it was higher than their neighbours. The result was that their neighbours’ tax band was increased. The appellant was not popular for a very long time!
The snow has started to clear in Caversham and the lower half of the road on Donkin Hill looks as though it has been repeatedly bombed. Major cracks, huge potholes and an alarming amount of subsidence are now in evidence. It is a scene that is going to be repeated over the whole of the UK in the next few days as the snow and ice retreat to reveal the damage caused by the freezing weather. I shall be out with my camera and reporting the state of the road to the council via FixMyStreet (see my earlier posting on this excellent service). I am sure our local Council will be inundated with similar reports from around Reading.
Potholes.co.uk is run by Warranty Direct who specialise in used car warranty, new car warranty and extended warranty. It is a “Campaign website to highlight poor state of British roads and help motorists seek compensation from Councils”. Type in the first part of a postcode or the name of a town to view a Google map showing the location of any potholes in the area. Click on a marker to see a more detailed description of the problem.
To report a pothole you need to register and sign in. First enter a title and description and then the street name and town. A Google map should appear with a marker and you can then drag the marker to the exact location of the pothole(s). You can also upload a photo. Once you have submitted your report you are taken to a page where you are encouraged to report the problem to the local council.
I am not sure how useful this site really is for motorists as it is dependent on people reporting potholes to the web site, so it is not comprehensive. It is also not clear who marks the potholes as filled when the repairs are made. Feedback on both of those points would be welcomed.
FixMyStreet is another service from those excellent people at Mysociety.org. So you’ve got a problem in your neighbourhood that you thought your local council would have dealt with by now. Road drains not clearing? Broken man-hole cover? Industrial waste dumped in your street? Your council may not know about it so this is your opportunity to tell them or chase up an ongoing problem.
All you have to do is enter the postcode, street name or area. You should then see a map showing existing and previous problems.
To report a new problem, click on the location of the problem on the map. A purple flag will appear and then you fill in the boxes: category (drop down menu), details of the problem, upload a photo if available, and email address and telephone number. Then Submit. FixMyStreet will send your report to the council on your behalf. “Simples”!
You can also subscribe to problem alerts. These can be delivered by RSS feeds or emails alerting you to problems within 7.3 km of your post code (the default), or 2, 5,10 or 20 km. Alternatively you can choose to receive all alerts in the area covered by your council or ward.
Heavy snow hit us overnight in Caversham and as I write the fluffy white stuff is still falling. From my office window I can see through a gap in the houses opposite the traffic on Briants Avenue and there have been no buses, or indeed any traffic at all. Our local radio stations provide good general information and updates on the weather, roads and public services but #rdg in Twitter is by far the best source of detailed local news. So today I was paying extra attention to the #rdg column in my Tweetdeck and spotted that one of Reading Borough’s councillors, @CllrDaisyBenson, is on Twitter. A couple of tweets later she informed me that three of her Lib Dem colleagues are on Twitter and about the same time I found the CllrTweeps web site – Finding and following the UK’s Tweeting councillors at http://www.cllrtweeps.com/.
The list was started by @CllrTweeps who is @JamesCousins. The project is currently being developed by James Cousins and @DafyddBach. Not surprisingly the wonderful @Liz_Azyan has been involved with the list and is credited with identifying a lot of the councillors.
You can search the list by council, party and “tweeps” – an alphabetical list of tweeting councillors.If you are a tweeting UK councillor and not on the list details of how to add your user name are at http://www.cllrtweeps.com/about/
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