Public money - public or not?
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