Big cuts are needed to keep down coun­cil tax

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Mike Ben­nett mben­nett@thek­m­

ALL coun­cil ex­pen­di­ture is un­der the mis­cro­scope in a bid to keep next year’s bud­get from rock­et­ing out of con­trol.

Cost-cut­ting at the civic cen­tre in­cludes a raft of mostly vol­un­tary re­dun­dan­cies al­ready agreed as coun­cil­lors and man­age­ment at­tempt to make huge sav­ings to pre­vent hefty coun­cil tax rises.

The Ken­tish Ex­press un­der­stands the axe is likely to fall on the tra­di­tional an­nual Mayor’s gar­den party, con­sid­ered one of the bor­ough’s so­cial high­lights.

It is be­lieved that deputy Mayor Cllr John Hol­land, due to be el­e­vated to first ci­ti­zen next May, has been mak­ing a bid for a more mod­est event by sav­ing on ca­ter­ing and get­ting a more com­pet­i­tive mar­quee quote, but even that seems doomed to fail­ure.

No depart­ment will es­cape scru­tiny as coun­cil­lors at­tempt to bal­ance the books without ma­jor im­pact on front line ser­vices.

De­spite the cut­backs, coun­cil­lors are con­sid­er­ing hon­our­ing the con­tri­bu­tions made by lo­cal sol­diers and mak­ing plans to give the REME Ter­ri­to­rial Unit based in Chart Road the Free­dom of the Bor­ough at a cer­e­mony next year that is ex­pected to cost £15,000.

They feel it ap­pro­pri­ate as the Ter­ri­to­rial Army is cel­e­brat­ing its cen­te­nary this year.

The reg­i­ment, based at the for­mer Rowcroft Bar­racks, has a long his­tory in the town.

In re­cent years the Chart Road base has been home to the TA unit where lo­cal part­time sol­diers have served with dis­tinc­tion in con­flicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Free­dom is the high­est hon­our the town can give and if agreed it will mean they are en­ti­tled to march through the town with bay­o­nets fixed. Both the In­tel­li­gence Corps (in 1979) and the Queens Reg­i­ment (1992) now the Princess of Wales’s Royal Reg­i­ment have the Free­dom of Ash­ford.

The coun­cil bud­get is due to be con­sid­ered at a meet­ing of the coun­cil tonight (Thurs­day). Full re­port next week.

Pic­ture: Dave Downey pd 1517898

MP Damian Green at The Ten­ter­den Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion Christ­mas fair on Satur­day with pres­i­dent Sir Don­ald Sin­den

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