Big cuts are needed to keep down council tax
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.
MP Damian Green at The Tenterden Residents’ Association Christmas fair on Saturday with president Sir Donald Sinden