Tighten seat­belts for coun­cil tax hike

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

Spring may be on the way but there are chilly days to come for county coun­cil ser­vice users and tax­pay­ers. Kent coun­cil­lors have ap­proved a bud­get that will see lo­cal tax bills rise by just un­der 4% and in­clude cuts of £80 mil­lion.

And they have been warned that fi­nances will be even tighter next year.

The coun­cil tax rise, the high­est for the county in sev­eral years, is needed to help bal­ance the books as cuts in govern­ment grants con­tinue.

The au­thor­ity is in a pretty dif­fi­cult po­si­tion and in some cases the tax in­crease is clearly jus­ti­fied. Half of the in­crease is to help cover the soar­ing costs and de­mands for care for the el­derly and vul­ner­a­ble.

There is an in­creas­ing age­ing pop­u­la­tion and money has to be found to look af­ter them, fully and prop­erly.

Mean­while there is a dou­ble whammy for trans­port – enor­mous slashes in road main­te­nance and cuts in bus sub­si­dies, af­fect­ing both those with and with­out cars.

The stance of cen­tral govern­ment has to be ques­tioned – why should it im­pose such dra­co­nian cuts and dump the fi­nan­cial bur­den on hard-pressed lo­cal tax­pay­ers?

Ei­ther way coun­cil of­fi­cers and mem­bers have the un­en­vi­able task of mak­ing the hard­est de­ci­sions to pare down some badly needed ser­vices, which will have a di­rect ef­fect on peo­ple in Ash­ford, Shep­way and the rest of Kent.

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