Unlike here in Australian where the property owner pays the council rates, in England, the resident pays the rates, be you an owner or a tenant. Without taking the overall tax system into account, like the 17% VAT, or for us GST, the council rates seem extraordinarily high.
Maggie's poll tax is no longer called that, but something similar to our council rates. From vague memory, perhaps well over $3,000 a year. I think they all pay monthly.
The council services in some areas are excellent, but in others poor. Letting public gardens to go their natural state is a good excuse for not maintaining areas. I would guess that Newcastle, being a Labour town and always has been, has a very over bloated city beaurocracy? with a strong arts focus. Sounds a bit like my beloved City of Port Phillip.