Ring road report remains on message
THERE can’t be many people who don’t know about the scheme to redevelop Ashford’s ring road. But council officers are remaining determinedly “on message” when it comes to talking about it. Take the recent report to the Ashford Joint Transportation Board. In case we’d forgotten, it reminded us the ring road is “an innovative, cutting edge, transformational project which aspires to be an exemplar, benchmark project and market leader across the UK which will put Ashford firmly on the map in the national context”. Phew. It also “offers considerably more to the town’s fabric than a standard highway scheme by incorporating a number of key shared space, urban design and artistic features”. Well, we know about those now, as does most of the country. Job done!
OFF The Record has been trying to establish exactly how Kent County Council is getting on with reaching its target for saving £200,000 as a result of introducing Kent TV. Whenever pressed, KCC has repeatedly claimed that is “on course” to meet the target. So, we asked what actions had been taken to save the money, such as stopping certain other publications. Our attempts to get to some of the details under the Freedom of Information Act have been thwarted twice. Apparently, it would take too long to get the details together. So, how can the council continue to claim to be “on course” to meet the savings target? Well, we do now know that. It’s been revealed that the money has been removed from various departments’ budgets. Or as the council puts it: “KCC can be sure the savings will be made because directorates have £200,000 less to spend.” Well, that’s one way to meet a savings target…
THE simmering resentment among KCC staff about their one per cent pay award has not been helped by our disclosure of the £102,000 of bonuses shared by top officers. Might this explain why KCC is advertising for an “employee engagement manager” on a salary of up to £40,000? Who knows. Either way, the successful candidate is told they will need the skills to “design and deliver employee engagement interventions”. Whatever they might be.
MICHAEL Howard was famously described by Ann Widdecombe as “having something of the night” about him. The two have since made up. But we were amused to see a magazine article in which the Folkestone & Hythe MP was asked about his loves and hates. Among his dislikes? Garlic.