Ring road re­port re­mains on mes­sage

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

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.

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