Not just switched off: street lights will be ‘deil­lu­mi­nated’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

OFF The Record has been tak­ing a keen in­ter­est in the county coun­cil’s plans to save money and en­ergy by switch­ing off street lights. Af­ter all, it does seem rather odd that hun­dreds of lights are left on all night when there is no ap­par­ent need. The author­ity has rather flipflopped on this is­sue, fear­ing it might up­set peo­ple. In fact, we re­call how the pre­vi­ous cabi­net mem­ber re­spon­si­ble for high­ways, Cllr Keith Fer­rin, quickly sat on the idea when one of his of­fi­cers had the temer­ity to sug­gest it could hap­pen. Per­haps this ex­plains the cau­tious lan­guage the strat­egy doc­u­ment adopts. You and I prob­a­bly turn lights on and off but that’s not good enough for pub­lic au­thor­i­ties. Oh no. Noth­ing less than “deil­lu­mi­na­tion” will do.

NOW, we know that new MPs are al­ways keen to im­press upon their con­stituents that they are get­ting down to the job in hand af­ter the eu­pho­ria off the elec­tion. So full marks to Folke­stone and Hythe MP Damian Collins, who tweeted on his first day of the new govern­ment how he was “look­ing for­ward to tak­ing his seat in the House of Com­mons cham­ber at 2.30pm.” It was sent at 5.42am.

MEAN­WHILE, new im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter Damian Green dis­cov­ered that prefer­ment in govern­ment was no guar­an­tee of a comfy seat on the green leather benches. He was forced to stand, squashed against a wall, dur­ing the re-elec­tion of Speaker John Ber­cow.

BUSI­NESSES may be hav­ing a tough time of it gen­er­ally but Kent County Coun­cil’s bur­geon­ing com­mer­cial ser­vices op­er­a­tions ap­pear to be go­ing from strength to strength. Ac­counts for Kent Top Temps Limited, its prin­ci­pal trad­ing com­pany in­cor­po­rat­ing Kent Top Travel, show that it made £248,068 in 2009, while unau­dited ac­counts for 2010 show that it is likely to record an even higher profit of £423,054. There is a sting in the tale how­ever. The county coun­cil has been hit with a much larger cor­po­ra­tion tax bill, which is ex­pected to be up 230 per cent. Ouch.

OFF The Record may not be in to­tal agree­ment with a claim made by Cllr John Sim­monds, the politician in charge of the coun­cil’s money, that KCC is a more open author­ity than peo­ple give it credit for. But as the spirit of co-op­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion spreads across the nation thanks to the Clegg-Cameron coali­tion, let’s not quib­ble with his plans to pro­duce monthly state­ments show­ing de­tails of how our money is spent. It won’t quite place KCC at the fore­front of a drive to more open­ness as sev­eral coun­cils are al­ready do­ing so. How­ever, it is def­i­nitely a step in the right di­rec­tion. The de­tail of how this will hap­pen has yet to be worked out and is in the hands of small in­for­mal mem­bers group., which will de­lib­er­ate and cog­i­tate about how to do it - be­hind closed doors.

WE see that KCC is de­scrib­ing its ex­tra £1mil­lion to fix pot­holes as a “gi­ant cash in­jec­tion.” Of course, these things are all rel­a­tive. We look for­ward to a sim­i­lar ep­i­thet be­ing used to de­scribe the £1.7m that county coun­cil­lors claim in al­lowances each year when they are pub­lished later on in the sum­mer.

YOU can now fol­low Paul on Twit­ter @PaulonPol­i­tics as well as fol­low­ing his blog at www.kentmes­sen­ger.co.uk

The Xchang­ing team pre­pare for the Pil­grims Hospice Moon­light Walk

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