Cost go­ing up? No, just a spot of price re­align­ment

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion -

Kent County Coun­cil has in­sisted it is safe­guard­ing front­line ser­vices de­spite hav­ing to make millions of pounds in sav­ings. It is some­times hard to make a judge­ment on whether there are cuts, thanks to the oblique lan­guage that officers rely on to de­scribe ex­actly how they are try­ing to bal­ance the books.

Take, for ex­am­ple, the plan to in­crease the price of the Young Per­son’s Travel Card – de­scribed in bud­get papers as “travel pass price re­align­ment to off­set bus op­er­a­tor in­fla­tion­ary fare in­creases.”

Re­align­ment? Not a word many would im­me­di­ately as­so­ciate with “price rise”, but maybe that was the point.

Mean­while, the coun­cil is press­ing ahead with its new com­pany sell­ing education ser­vices to any­one who wants them.

The com­pany be­ing cre­ated has been named “The Education Peo­ple” and will need an up­front in­vest­ment to set up. The cost? £1.8 mil­lion.

It is not just Henry Bolton who is hav­ing prob­lems as a Ukip leader. In Thanet, the row over the fu­ture use of the for­mer Manston air­port site has left coun­cil leader Chris Wells on a tightrope, with dark mut­ter­ings about an at­tempt to oust him.

Ac­cused of reneg­ing on a key pledge to re­open Manston, he is cer­tainly vul­ner­a­ble but may be spared the hu­mil­i­a­tion of walk­ing the plank. Why? The re­luc­tance of the Con­ser­va­tives to join forces with the rebel Ukip coun­cil­lors who want some­one else to take charge of the author­ity.

Get­ting pub­lic bod­ies – from coun­cils to health trusts – to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about their af­fairs is much eas­ier now thanks to the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act. The prob­lem is that there ap­pears to be a rather wor­ry­ing trend for some to use it as cover for avoid­ing pass­ing com­ment.

Off The Record has been told by press of­fices twice in the last month that we would need to sub­mit an FOI re­quest about an FOI re­quest in or­der to se­cure a com­ment. Bizarre.

Fol­low Paul on Twit­ter @ Paulon­pol­i­tics for all Kent’s po­lit­i­cal news and gos­sip.

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