Pub­lic money - pub­lic or not?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OFF THE RECORD - by Paul Francis

WAS the money that Kent County Coun­cil in­vested in the now aborted plan for di­rect flights to Vir­ginia from Manston air­port pub­lic money or not? Coun­cil chiefs have been keen to stress that the money - es­ti­mated to be in the re­gion of £150,000 - was not coun­cil tax­pay­ers’ cash but rather money the coun­cil made in prof­its from var­i­ous busi­ness and re­gen­er­a­tion ini­tia­tives. Fair enough. But surely any money the coun­cil has is “pub­lic money?” And if not, then why did the state­ment con­firm­ing the demise of the flights plan state that KCC had de­cided “it would not be pru­dent or vi­able to in­vest pub­lic money in the ven­ture?”

CON­SUL­TANTS who ad­vised KCC about in­vest­ing in flights to Vir­ginia high­lighted the re­lease of the film The New World as some­thing that would gen­er­ate in­ter­est among Bri­tons in Vir­ginia. Star­ring Colin Farrell, the film, re­leased last year, ef­fec­tively re-told the Poc­a­han­tas Story. But it was hardly a block­buster. The film, which cost $30m dol­lars, took a lit­tle over £6m at the box of­fice be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing from cin­ema screens on both sides of the At­lantic within a few weeks.

COUNTY trans­port chiefs have been ac­cused of im­part­ing a de­gree of spin to their plans to bring in passes for “free” bus travel for 11 to 16-year-olds, with the op­po­si­tion par­ties un­der­stand­ably point­ing out that some­thing that costs £50 can hardly be char­ac­terised as free. To be fair, Con­ser­va­tive county coun­cil­lors have just about come round to the idea that this is a fair point. But what is this? The bus pass scheme has been clev­erly chris­tened the “Kent Free­dom Pass.” Never un­der-es­ti­mate the shrewd po­lit­i­cal in­stincts of Cllr Keith Fer­rin, the vet­eran Tory and KCC cabi­net mem­ber for trans­port, who an­nounced the ti­tle this week.

TRANS­PORT min­is­ter and Kent MP Dr Steve Ladyman has come in for a fair bit of flak over both road pric­ing and Op­er­a­tion Stack. Now he is the sub­ject of a new pe­ti­tion on the Down­ing Street pe­ti­tion web­site, with de­mands that he be re­moved from of­fice. He doesn’t ap­pear duly per­turbed and with just 33 peo­ple sup­port­ing the call for his sack­ing, you can see why. Af­ter all, it is 1,699,967 short of the num­ber who signed the pe­ti­tion urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to aban­don pay-as-you-go driv­ing schemes. Mind you, per­haps he should get wor­rried if he spots a cer­tain T.Blair among the sig­na­to­ries.

Be­hind the scenes at County Hall with our po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.