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Council tax up to cushion cuts


COUNCIL taxes are to rise across the board. KCC has confirmed it will be in- creasing its tax on households by 1.99% post-April, to help cushion the effect of cutbacks on services. The county council has to save


£81m this year and is proposing to trim £13m off care services for the elderly and £3.6m off the highways budget. It also expects to save £2m from


the closure and re-organisation of children’s centres and £7m from putting up the costs of the Kent Freedom Pass for schoolchildren. Over three years, the county council has to save £270m and it hopes this year’s increase – which will put an additional £20 a year on bills for homes in Band D – will generate £10m. Kent’s Police and Crime Com- missioner Ann Barnes has an- nounced the police precept will increase by 1.99%, as will the fire service precept, which rises for the first time in four years. Many of the borough’s 43 parishes have also found them- selves faced with budgeting for a price hike, but all are endeavour- ing to stay within government


guidelines.Any increase above 2% would require a referendum – a time-consuming and costly process that is seen as being self-defeating. Maidstone Council has already carried out a public consultation on its plans to increase next year’s council tax by 1.99% – 36p a month. The borough has to save £5.5m


in the five years up to March 2019. It has plans to save £1,163,000 in 2014-15 and £600,000 in later years but it still has to find £3,762,000 over the five years up to March 2019. The council’s plans for 2014-15 include raising £104,000 from new income sources such as planning application fees, sales of green gar- den refuse bins and commercial rents. The borough council also plans


to make savings of £800,000 in the cost of contracts for services and £259,000 in further reductions to staffing costs. It was due to make its final decision on March 5. The meeting was postponed


from February 26 to give the coun- cil’s finance chief more time to ob- tain information from the other precepting authorities.


Samaritans’ new director


THE Samaritans of Maidstone andWeald has appointedMaggie Jones as the new director of its branch in Grecian Street, Maidstone. The voluntary role of director is appointed


for a three-year term and is responsible for managing the quality of the services pro- vided by the team along with ensuring that sufficient volunteers are recruited and trained. Maggie (pictured), who takes over from


Will Merrifield, has volunteered as a listening Samaritan at the Maidstone branch formore than five years and has been a deputy direc- tor for three years during that time Maggie said: “We are always looking for


more help and run frequent information sessions for potential volunteers. Details are on the branch web site at www.samaritans.org/maidstone.” To contact the Samaritans, call 01622 674444, email Jo@samari- tans.org or go to 48 Grecian Street, Maidstone, ME14 2TS.


Treat for classical music lovers


MAIDSTONEWind Symphony en- tertained classical music loverswith a concert of contemporary wind or- chestramusic at All Saints’ Church, Maidstone. The evening began with a rous-


ing rendition of Wagner’s The Fly- ing Dutchman, an arrangement of well known pieces from the one-act opera. This was followed by a pro- gramme of pieces truly representa- tive of the modern wind orchestra, led byKent born composer Richard


Rodney Bennett’s Concerto for Trumpet, performed by guest soloist Huw Morgan. Saxophonist Tim Watson played


his bluesy interpretation of Peter Meechan’s Fenix Blue, before the orchestra closed the concert with Ferrer Ferran’s Pinocchio sym- phonic suite. For more information on the


group and future performances, visit their website at www.maid- stonewindsymphony.org.


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