Overwhelming Support for Levy Increase from Respondents to Survey

Only 13% of households participated in Conservators' consultation

Queensmere on Wimbledon Common. Picture: Ben Brooksbank

December 14, 2023

The Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators (WPCC) will be proceeding with controversial rises in the levy following the results of its consultation.

Over 79% of respondents to the survey held by the WPCC endorsed the proposed rises which are well above the rate of inflation.

5,969 levy-paying households participated which represents just 13% of those eligible. The Conservators say that this makes it statistically highly likely that the result would be repeated if the survey was held again.

The WPCC sent a consultation document to all 44,500 households in the levy-paying area and recipients were invited to respond online or by freepost. Of all consultation responses, 58% responded online and 42% responded via post. There was little variation between responses provided online or via post.

The consultation was conducted over a six-week during which key stakeholders, including the MPs for Wimbledon, Putney and Richmond Park, the local authorities of Kingston, Merton and Wandsworth, as well as the Wimbledon Society and Putney Society were invited to make representations.

Of the key stakeholders who responded, the proposed rises gained support from the Wimbledon Society, the Putney Society, Wimbledon’s MP Stephen Hammon and Sarah Olney MP for Richmond Park. Opponents included both borough councils and Fleur Anderson MP.

The WPCC says that comments provided by supporters of the increase often gave helpful suggestions on the management of the Commons.

Some of 1,259 respondents who expressed opposition also added comments most of which were on the basis of a rise being inappropriate at a time when the cost-of-living increase was already hitting many residents.

In response the WPCC said, “WPCC understands the rising cost of living is placing increased pressure on households. The impact of the proposed levy increase on households was taken into account when considering the proposed figure so that the increase proposed is the minimum WPCC feel is necessary to achieve the work set out in the Consultation Document. The levy is set by WPCC each year. WPCC is committed to keeping the levy under review to ensure it raises only what is needed to protect and maintain the Commons. WPCC has considered suggestions to stagger the increase over several years and is of the view that this option will not be sufficient to meet the current needs both financially and operationally of the organisation”

All exemptions and benefits to which residents are entitled for council tax purposes will also apply to the levy.

On 4 December, the Conservators met to consider the results from the consultation and to decide how to proceed in respect of the levy proposal. Given the high level of support from respondents and having considered the representations and comments made through the consultation process, the Conservators agreed to pursue a levy increase in line with the proposal and have now contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) about the matter.

A draft version of the consultation report and this was subsequently approved at their Board meeting on 11 December.

Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact info@neighbournet.com and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.