Bud­get row as Tories try to cut mu­seum’s money

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Smith aj­smith@thek­m­group.co.uk @aj­smithKM

A fierce ar­gu­ment erupted over spend­ing pri­or­i­ties when Maid­stone Bor­ough Coun­cil set its bud­get for the next fi­nan­cial year.

The Con­ser­va­tive group at­tempted a last- minute amend­ment to give more money for plan­ning en­force­ment, which ev­ery­one agreed was in poor shape.

But the Tory plans to take £100,000 out of the con­tin­gency bud­get and £50,000 from Maid­stone Mu­seum did not go down well with any of the other po­lit­i­cal groups at the meet­ing on March 1.

Cllr John Perry (Con) said plan­ning was one of the key ser­vices of the bor­ough, but it was point­less if there were not the re­sources to prop­erly en­force the de­ci­sions.

Cllr Annabelle Black­more (Con) said peo­ple’s lives were be­ing “blighted by the lack of plan­ning en­force­ment”.

Re­fer­ring to a sur­vey of res­i­dents’ pri­or­i­ties, Cllr Matt Boughton (Con) pointed out that plan­ning was a ma­jor con­cern for vot­ers, whereas her­itage and leisure was at the bot­tom of the list.

But Cllr Dan Da­ley (Lib Dem) spoke up for the mu­seum, say­ing it was a “cul­tural bea­con” in the South East, with in­ter­na­tion­ally im­por­tant col­lec­tions.

Cllr Ed­die Pow­ell (Ukip) agreed the bor­ough’s plan­ning en­force­ment was “in a pretty damn aw­ful state,” but said the mu­seum should not be made to suf­fer.

Cllr Emily Fer­mor (Lib Dem) said re­search had shown that ex­pe­ri­enc­ing her­itage and cul­ture could have “a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on peo­ple’s men­tal and phys­i­cal health”.

Coun­cil leader Cllr Fran Wil­son (Lib Dem) said that although en­force­ment is an area that needed sort­ing out, slash­ing £ 50,000 from the mu­seum bud­get would send the wrong mes­sage to the other bod­ies and pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als who had sup­ported it with do­na­tions to­talling £191,000 this year.

Cllr Chris Gar­land (Con) ac­cused the Lib­eral Democrats of hav­ing “an ob­ses- sion” with her­itage and cul­ture. He said: “The mu­seum’s bud­get is £1.4m. Tak­ing away £50,000 is not go­ing to make it fall down.”

In­de­pen­dent Cllr Fay Gooch was wor­ried about tak­ing money out of the con­tin­gency fund be­fore the year had even started. “This is there for when it’s really needed,” she said.

The Con­ser­va­tive’s amend­ment was de­feated with 23 votes in favour and 30 against.

Lib Dem coun­cil­lors Emily Fer­mor and Dan Da­ley, right, have been ac­cused of hav­ing an ob­ses­sion with her­itage and cul­ture; far right, Cllr Chris Gar­land ar­gued for a cut of £50,000 to be taken from the mu­seum’s bud­get

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.