Labour's Mayoral hopeful, Penny Fletcher, has this week criticised big increases in planning fees charged on homeowners by Bedford Borough Council.
Local residents looking to extend their home or add a conservatory will see the cost of preparing a plan rise by just under 8%, almost four-times the current rate of inflation, to £108.
Inspection charges are also set to rise by a huge 18% to £252, along with a staggering 26% increase to £396 for completing a building notice.
Penny said in response to the newly released fees:
"At a time when the local economy is still so fragile, anything which discourages homeowners from investing in their homes and reduces work for local companies is surely self-defeating.”
In a further blow to the prospects of the local economy, it was also confirmed this week that Bedford Borough Council is not meeting its own targets for completing both major and minor planning applications.
Their 13 week target for major applications to be competed is being met in barely half the number of cases.
Minor applications are facing similar problems, leaving over a 100 householders still waiting for a decision from the Council.
In a remarkable admission, officers concede in their own report that “Heavy workloads are delaying improvement and the continued fall in performance is the result of a reduction in staffing.”
“Homeowners are paying more for a worse service – it’s simply unacceptable and someone needs to get a grip of this problem. The Council shot itself in the foot by cutting the planning team and they need to think again.”