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News Council service cuts now feared

CUTS of £4.2 million are feared in Maidstone residents’ services, as the borough council looks to plug amassive hole in its budget.

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) claims rate-payers will be fully involved in finding ways to find the shortfall in the light of changes to government funding. But MBC has admitted cuts and

tough choices are inevitable. Local MP Helen Whately (right)

said she was concerned by the an- nouncement, adding: “Making cuts would be of great concern. “I’d hope the council can resolve

its financial troubles without cuts to frontline services. Are there effi- ciencies behind the scenes?” A statement from the council

said: “The council’s income is being cut by an increasing amount over the next four years, leading to the shortfall in the council’s ‘revenue budget’ which pays for services to residents. “The shortfall will mean services

need to be cut or provided in dif- ferent ways and standards. “Senior councillors and officers

have already looked at what changes are possible. A series of roadshows are now being planned so that residents can be involved in

some of the tough choices that will have to be made.” MBC blames cuts in funding

since 2010 and an austerity pro- gramme which will accelerate in the next five years. The state-

ment adds: “The revenue support grant that the council re- ceives from the govern- ment has al- ready fallen

and will be axed altogether from next year.” The authority claims it can grow

revenues by creating extra house- holds though its housebuilding programme but “scope for growth in the short term is limited”. The council is unable to raise council tax above a certain govern- ment-set threshold without a refer- endum. MBC says potential budget cuts of £2.9million have been identified.

The statement added: “Council-

lors and senior staff have been looking at ways to try to close the remaining £1.3million gap. As part of this, each servicewas categorised as essential, important, useful or not essential. The standard of the service, both current and desired, was then classed as gold, silver or bronze.” Kent county councillor Gary

Cooke said: “I sympathise greatly with the situation the council is in and as a member of the county council I amwell aware of the chal- lenges they face, but I am a little surprised that MBC finds itself short. “You’d have to look at all those discretionary ‘nice to do’ services and at the back office and support roles. I am happy to work more closely with the borough council with them in terms of those areas, in order tominimise any impact on frontline service users.” A series of roadshows led by councillors will be held at venues around the borough, starting this month.

Quick fix repairs no good, say residents

RESIDENTS forced to wait more than 60 years for their road to be resurfaced claim the county council has met their protests with little more than a “quick fix”. Homeowners in Valentine Road

and Hubble Drive complained bit- terly when temporary patching re- pairs left them walking in stone chippings, while weeds were left growing through the cracks. Residents agree county council

contractors did apply weed killer and sweep the road in response to their concerns, but say bothwere in- effectual and revealed the fragility of the temporary repairs – sparing their biggest criticism for the county council’s pledge to resurface the cul de sac after April 2017 with a new “speedier” surface. In a letter from residents, they

say: “The consensus among resi- dents is that your proposal to use micro asphalt to resurface this road in the next financial year commenc- ing April 2017 is the ‘least appropri- ate’ option.” They say the process requires traf-

fic to “roll in” the finished surface, whereas they live in a no-through road, adding: “You cite the premise that this quicker process will mean less disruption to road users, resi- dents, local businesses and the emergency services. In effect, the process means that it will be “more

8 Maidstone East October 2016 New location Residents of Valentine Road insist that planned repairs are inadequate

of the same” and probably not long- lasting. “Given that very little, if any,

maintenance has been done on this road since it was first laid in 1957, surely the residents who have paid their taxes all this time deserve something better than a quick fix?” They also complain that while the

county council says micro asphalt has been used elsewhere, they have not been told where, which means they cannot view it or get any feed- back. They say a more appropriate

process for a residential road would be wet-rolled fine asphalt, adding: “Elderly and disabled residents will

not be able to park elsewhere while the work is carried out, because they will not be able to walk out to their vehicles easily. If the repairswere to be done in the traditional way (using fine asphalt, wet rolled), half the road could be done at a time, leaving access for residents during the process.” They say a site meeting between

residents, a KCC representative – with technical expertise and some authority to deliver agreed actions – and an elected representative for the ward should be held to resolve the matter satisfactorily. KCC was approached for a com- ment but did not respond.

a hit for Social THESocial, a boutique festival ded- icated to the best in electronic dance music, turned the Kent Showground, Detling, into a nos- talgic re-creation of the first gener- ation of massive rave parties. Held on September 9-10, it head-

lined Carl Cox, Goldie and Roni Size.

The event catered to a young au- dience, but also those old enough to recall the days when massive dance events in warehouses and fields were at the cutting edge of popular culture. The get-together at Detling re-

places the staging of the same event last year in Mote Park – a venue which attracted noise complaints and allegations of drug use. Fan Emily Bennett, pictured

above with sister Megan, said: “It was really great. Therewere lots of different arenas to cater for differ- ent music tastes. “For me Majistrate and High Contrastwere the highlights.”

‘Some services will

be reduced’ - leader CLLR Fran Wilson, leader of the council (pictured), said: “Since 2010, we have been forced to make significant changes due to cuts in government funding. “We’ve shared services with other councils to provide value for money and achieved sav- ings with efficien- cies and changing the way we work rather than service cuts. We have worked hard to protect front-line services as much as possible. “This has become harder each

year and it is now inevitable that some services will have to be re- duced over the next four years. It’s essential that residents play an ac- tive role in this process. We hope that as many people as possible will come along to the roadshows or take part in the online survey to share their views.”

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