News Drink driver

ran to woods ADRUNKranfor thewoods inthe middle of the night when he was caught at thewheel of a transit van in a caravan park nearMaidstone, a court heard. JohnCasey (41), of PelicanCourt

was challengedbypolice at 2.45am on January 4, afterdriving at speed in theAllington area andemerging fromthe 2020 business park. Officers activatedblue lights and

sirens but Casey drove on to a car- avan site in Coldharbour Lane. Maidstonemagistrates heard he

triedto run intowoods butwasde- tainedbypolice.He refusedto give a breath sample and screamed: “I amnot giving you f*** all.” He later recorded a reading of

43mg, the legal limit being 35. Casey apologised for being “stu-

pid”, and chairman of the bench, Nigel Cox replied: “You’re dead right there.” Mr Cox asked Casey how he

wouldbe affected by a fine and12- month ban, andCasey admittedhe did not like public transport. He said he did not work but

“helps outwith the family”. Casey was given a 12-month driving ban and a £265 fine.

Council tax is raised to twice the inflation rate

MAIDSTONE Borough Council is poised to hike taxation for residents by almost twice the rate of inflation. The local authority wants to

levy a 3%increase on households, even though CPI inflation, which benchmarks the rising cost of household budgets, stood at 1.8% in January. The council’s proposed rise is

the maximum allowed by Gov- ernment without councillors being compelled to hold a refer- endumto get public approval for their plans. The borough, which relies on council tax as its princi- pal source of funding, claims it will net £160,000worth of services for each 1%increase. The LiberalDemocrat-led coun-

cil’s leader, CllrMartin Cox, said: “The recommendations have been made in order to achieve a balanced budget that will con- tribute to the Council having a stable financial position.”

(KCC) over the use of cash from housing developers. Torygroupleader,Cllr JohnPerry,

pictured, who opposed the tax rise and campaigned unsuccessfully for charges to be frozen, said: “Just be- cause the council can take this to the upper limitof3%,doesn’tmeanithas to. At time of severe financial con- straints and looming cuts to frontline services,onehas toquestionthedeci- siontocarryonwithaHighCourtac- tion against anotherKent authority - the bill forwhichwill bemet entirely bythetaxpayer.” Labour group leader, Malcolm

However, the proposals, due to

be voted on at full council later thismonth, have prompted oppo- nents to question how “wisely” money is being spent. Especially as Maidstone is currently em- broiled in a costlyHigh Court ac- tion againstKentCountyCouncil

McKay, who recently joined forces with Cllr Perry in trying to halt the court action, said he supported the rise because it equated to a £7.56 in- creaseper resident inaBandDprop- erty.Butheadded:“Ofcourse, Iwish to see the two parties in the High Courtbattlesitdownat thetableand resolve this. I don’t want money splashed around.”

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