Tories ex­er­cis­ing free­dom of choice

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Schools League Tables -

Among Kent County Coun­cil’s many bud­get dif­fi­cul­ties is the pro­posal to place a cap on the hugely pop­u­lar Free­dom Pass, lim­it­ing the amount of times chil­dren can use them.

The plans, which will save the coun­cil some £7.5m, have come un­der fire from many par­ents. But if the Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion at County Hall was hop­ing for some sol­i­dar­ity among its col­leagues out in the dis­tricts, it seems mis­placed.

One pe­ti­tion call­ing for a re­think that now has more than 6,000 sig­na­tures was ini­ti­ated by a Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor in Shep­way, Emily Arnold.

The po­lit­i­cal equiv­a­lent of what the mil­i­tary de­scribes as “friendly fire” or a “blue on blue” in­ci­dent.

HOW many Ro­ma­nian and Bul­gar­ian mi­grants have ar­rived in the UK since the New Year?

The spec­u­la­tion be­fore the end of 2013 was that there would be a large in­flux. The truth is no-one re­ally knows, other than anec­do­tal ev­i­dence.

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron was tack­led about the num­bers and replied that it was “a rea­son­able num­ber”. Which could mean any­thing – “rea­son­able” as in mod­est, or “rea­son­able” as in “sig­nif­i­cant enough

‘Even in the face of ad­ver­sity, he gets more pub­lic­ity than the main par­ties’

for us to back up claim that we would be over­run”.

Off The Record sus­pects that it might be a case of low­er­ing ex­pec­ta­tions.

YOU could never say that UKIP leader Nigel Farage isn’t good value for money. Even in the face of ad­ver­sity, he gets more pub­lic­ity than the main par­ties.

Per­haps it was the bang on the head from a pro­tes­tor’s plac­ard in Thanet but it proved a tor­rid week, with him dis­own­ing his own party’s pre­vi­ous elec­tion man­i­festo – which he de­scribed as 486 pages of drivel – and then call­ing for the ban on hand­guns to be re­versed.

But even he must be be­gin­ning to won­der whether the adage that there is no such thing as bad pub­lic­ity is true.

WE al­ways en­joy Kent County Coun­cil’s re­sponses to Off The Record’s Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests, usu­ally be­cause you can de­tect the in­flu­ence of the pro­pa­ganda unit in the way they are phrased. Take its re­sponse to the use of con­sul­tants to ad­vise it on the lat­est trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme.

“KCC has an im­pres­sive his­tory of de­liv­ery [of] fi­nan­cial sav­ings whilst en­sur­ing front­line ser­vices are pro­tected, in­deed of­ten im­proved,” it read.

It’s called keep­ing on mes­sage.

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