Morecambe Town Council fires back after heavy criticism from town MP over ‘Frontierland tax’

Morecambe Town Council has responded to criticism from the resort’s MP regarding the ‘Frontierland tax’.
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Members have sent a letter to Simon Hoare MP, Minister for Local Government, following David Morris MP's speech in Parliament about council tax they collected for Frontierland.

Morecambe Town Council explained in the letter about the ‘Frontierland’ tax or Community Action Fund.

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The town council said in the letter: “The £1m Community Action Fund (CAF) was created via a significant rise in the precept in 2023-24 for the purpose of a proposed community project on the Frontierland site. Raising funds in this way is not unusual.

The former Frontierland site on Marine Road Central in Morecambe. Photo: Kelvin Lister-StuttardThe former Frontierland site on Marine Road Central in Morecambe. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard
The former Frontierland site on Marine Road Central in Morecambe. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard

"A new Council administration entered role following elections in May 2023 and resolved to change its direction regarding the Frontierland site, creating the question of what to do with the CAF.

"The Council received advice from the National Association of Local Councils that it would be reasonable to reallocate this money as the Council saw fit, given the original purpose for which it was raised was no longer applicable.

"With the general reserve at £0 at the commencement of the financial year 2023-24, the Council subsequently resolved to reallocate the entirety of the CAF to re-establish general reserves ahead of the 2024-25 budget-setting process, which is within the advised 25%-100% bracket.

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"It believes it is taking a sensible, pragmatic approach by returning £150,000 via a subsidy of the precept this year and holding the remaining £850,000 in general reserve while the “Council considers the most appropriate course of action for future years.”

The town council also tackled the subject of Frontierland 'double taxation’ saying in the letter that the idea that the raising of the Community Action Fund was ‘double taxation’ is misinformation that has been consistently repeated and reported to suit a particular political narrative.

The town council said in the letter: “It needs to be clearly understood that the money was not raised to purchase land, as was clarified and minuted during the full council meeting of Morecambe Town Council in February 2023.

"Cabinet members of Lancaster City Council had indicated willingness to explore gifting a portion of the land to the community if the City Council were able to secure an adequate receipt for other parcels of the land, and provided there was a viable project and sufficient funding available.

"The Fund was therefore raised to:

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• provide the necessary demonstration of funds to Lancaster City Council to prove a viable project could be achieved

• develop a viable project based on the community’s ideas and - had it been approved by City Council – deliver it

• act as seed money against other funding sources to help fully fund the project.

"None of these things had been or would have been done or paid for by any other public body and so do not constitute double taxation.”

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The letter also refers to Morecambe taxpayers subsidising county public realm work. It reads: “Some of Morecambe Town Council’s Town Rangers are allocated to spend a portion of the year delivering a weeding service on behalf of Lancashire County Council (which includes Morecambe). The costs related to this are covered entirely by the £63,295.67 annual fee received from Lancashire County Council which rises annually in line with RPI.”