Plunged into de­spair by baf­fling de­bate

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Night Lights -

It never ceases to amaze Off The Record just what county coun­cil­lors choose to de­bate at their meet­ings.

KCC reached new heights of navel-gaz­ing with a tor­tu­ous, not to say painful, con­sid­er­a­tion of what should be in­cluded in the min­utes of full coun­cil meet­ings.

Ukip tabled a mo­tion call­ing for the min­utes to in­clude an­swers to writ­ten tabled ques­tions at such meet­ings.

You’d have thought this pro­posal could have been dealt with in a rel­a­tively straight­for­ward way. But not at County Hall where such con­sti­tu­tional up­heavals are taken very se­ri­ously.

The en­su­ing de­bate proved so baf­fling that no-one seemed en­tirely clear what was go­ing on, de­scend­ing into a chaotic ar­gu­ment about the con­sti­tu­tional rules that led one coun­cil­lor to mut­ter in de­spair “Am I wast­ing my life?”

While the dis­rup­tion caused by a record-break­ing se­ries of days of Op­er­a­tion Stack re­mains vivid, Kent County Coun­cil is try­ing to make the most of it by press­ing for­ward with its £468m so­lu­tion.

Ex­cept that one part of the so­lu­tion may prove rather hard to swal­low for some – namely, the el­e­ment that in­volves a “hold­ing area” for as many as 4,000 HGVs some­where off the M20.

Not ev­ery­one on the Con­ser­va­tive back­benches is en­am­oured. Ash­ford county coun­cil­lor An­drew Wick­ham, not known for dis­sent, warned there could be “enor­mous op­po­si­tion” to the idea.

The for­mer Ukip MEP Jan­ice Atkin­son is fac­ing ques­tions about why she has not ful­filled her own com­mit­ment to stand aside as an MEP in the event that she moved to another party. In a Face­book post­ing that has re­turned to haunt her, she said all Ukip can­di­dates had signed a con­tract that were they to de­fect, they would stand aside for the next can­di­date on the party list.

Ms Atkin­son has joined the Europe of Na­tion and Free­dom group in the EU af­ter be­ing ex­pelled by Ukip amid ex­penses al­le­ga­tions.

There ap­pears to be noth­ing the county coun­cil, in its bid to save money, won’t con­sider out­sourc­ing or pri­vatis­ing.

It is test­ing the wa­ter over its coun­try parks, invit­ing would-be op­er­a­tors to put for­ward their plans to run them on KCC’s be­half.

Or as the in­vi­ta­tion puts it: “Kent County Coun­cil is look­ing to en­gage with po­ten­tial sup­pli­ers to de­liver, through one or more of the above sites, an in­spi­ra­tional coun­try­side ex­pe­ri­ence for all Kent res­i­dents and visi­tors in the most cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner.”

There is some con­fu­sion over the long-awaited pub­li­ca­tion of the IPCC re­port into whether Kent crime com­mis­sioner Ann Barnes had valid car in­sur­ance fol­low­ing a crash.

It was due to be dis­cussed this week by the Kent and Med­way Crime panel but ap­par­ently wasn’t com­plete – even though the ac­ci­dent hap­pened last Novem­ber.

Fol­low Paul @PaulOnPol­i­tics

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