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