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Kent Council Tax to rise by 5%

PUBLISHED: 19:42 20 February 2018

Conservative councillor Jeremy Kite.

Conservative councillor Jeremy Kite.

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Councillors have voted down eight proposals ranging from mental health services for young people to potholes - but council tax bills will be raised by 5per cent.

At a full meeting of Kent County Council on Tuesday, February 20, 58 councillors voted to approve the budget that includes an increase in council tax but voted against all amendments by the opposition.

The Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Green Party slammed the Conservatives for “ignoring them” and said they were “out of touch”.

Barry Lewis, Labour councillor, even withdrew his amendment for money to be spent on potholes because he “didn’t see the point, it would just get voted out anyway”.

Rob Bird, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said: “Anyone watching this must think that we are on a different planet and and this council is out of touch with the people of Kent.

“Everyone seems to agree with the sentiment but won’t fund anything.”

The councillors voted against provisions for youth hubs to improve their mental health services for young people, highways repair and befriending services for isolated residents.

Fellow Liberal Democrat, Cllr Ida Linfield, said she does not feel the opposition are being listened to or people in Kent.

She said: “No one seems to be listening to us. There seems to be a consensus but I don’t see any money being spent.

“They say that Kent people were consulted in the council tax rise but that was 0.6pc of the population.

“If you want to ignore me, go on but I will let them know that you have ignored them. I want to distance myself as far from the budget as I can.”

Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con) said the election results and public consultations indicate the opinions of Kent people.

He said: “A year ago, we took this shambles of a council and we changed their appalling record, we took this gloomy, gloomy outlook to the people of Kent and we said to them, ‘you’re the taxpayer, what do you want to do?’ and they told us.

“That’s why some of us are here and a lot of us are not.

“I think at the end of the day, we have to go forward as a group.

“I think what we need to do now is pull together.”

Yet Cllr Anthony Hook claims the Conservative manifesto was not clear about their plans.

He said: “Did you say in your council tax that you’re going to raise the council tax by 5pc and the second meeting you would have raised your allowances?

“I think that is poor. You should have been honest about what you were going to do last year, we may have more consensus this year.”

Cllr Martin Whybrow for the Green Party said: “I’m not sure anyone will go home feeling like they’ve done a good job.”

However the leader of the council, Cllr Paul Carter, said he was proud of the budget and will pay for the amendments once funds from the Home Office to cover costs of unaccompanied asylum seekers has been granted.

He said: “We would love to do all the things that they have put forward for us but we cannot fund it.

“Once we get the £8m from the home office for asylum seekers, we will pay for these amendments.”

His colleague Cllr Sue Carey said: “It’s a budget about living within our means and it is for everyone in Kent. I am proud to be sitting by this budget.”

Cllr Rosalind Binks said: “Had the money been available I’m sure a lot of people would have been willing to vote for them. One of the amendments I was very tempted by.”

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