April 2018 Message from our local Borough Councillor.

The following is a message from our local Maidstone Borough Councillor Patrik Garten.

Dear Residents

Like almost every year, Maidstone will have some Borough Elections this May – although not in Hollingbourne, I hasten to add!

Three years out of every four, some residents will be asked to the polls. Not only is this a costly way of administering local government but it also fails to assure a stable local government, which would be able to plan ahead for more than next May.

The mere support or criticism of the electoral system may be construed as a party-political statement which is VERBOTEN ! – during Purdah.

Purdah? I hear you ask – no nothing religious, but a publicity restriction that will apply after the Notice of Election is published.

During this time neither Council nor members are allowed to issue any publicity which appears designed to affect support for a candidate or political party or could otherwise be regarded as influencing voters……

Before my monthly rant turns to a whisper on Tuesday 27th, here another open talk:

Maidstone had its annual budget agreed. The MBC element of council tax goes up by 3%

Needless to say that another £800,000 will be ploughed into the Maidstone Museum, as usual. A subsidy of £10 per visitor.

As mentioned last time, Park & Ride subsidies will be doubled and, of course, since Central Government raised the cap on Council Tax increases, staff scream out for and will get a good pay-rise.

Car parking spaces to staff at Maidstone House are £450 per year. A bit rich perhaps that officers are advising us to increase parking charges to encourage Park and Ride and outlying car parks whilst enjoying the cheapest private parking in the most central location!

I flag this not to necessarily suggest we increase the cost to staff, but to say NO to making parking less affordable to the public.

At Full Council I voted against all proposed budget elements, except an amendment to keep the increase at 2%, like in the previous years. – Needless to add that I was outvoted on every account.

On a more positive note:

 Although fly-tipping and antisocial littering out of motor-vehicles is always going on, I noted that most lanes across the North Downs are pretty clean of rubbish. I think that this may partially be due to Lesley Jones, Maidstone’s new cleaning manager
– A big thank you!

 The Kent Downs Management Plan is currently being reviewed. Please get involved and feed into the revision of the plan – it is only a 10min survey. Please follow this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RCJVRDC

 Lots of issues happening around the Kent Medical site at Junction 7. There will be a full briefing for members soon and I shall feed back next month.

 A delegation of North Downs community representatives met with the Police & Crimes Commissioner, Matthew Scott. He was very sympathetic to our rural concerns and presented us with very practical solutions, which Kent Police is currently introducing. Over 400 new staff are being recruited. That is 200 extra staff, when considering natural wastage. We recently got a new PCSO for the village and he will regularly visit parish council meetings; at least once every three months. An improvement over the past 6 or 8 month when we had no visit. The most striking thing I remember is, that new police recruits will be asked about their desired career path from the very start. Being a village PCSO shall no longer be the foot in the door for a career in CID. Village PCSOs are supposed to be experts in their community and this expertise is valued and should be retained.

 Purdah or not, I shall continue to be at the end of the phone-line or my email in-box and listen to your concerns and be ready to advocate on your behalf in the Halls of Power.

Happy Purdah Easter

MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward, including Hollingbourne

Councillor Garten can be contacted at PatrikGarten@Maidstone.gov.uk

Pictured below is Councillor Garten in March 2018 at Kent Police Headquarters 2018 where he arranged for a meeting between the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner and representatives of local Parish Councils including Hollingbourne. Matters discussed included crime on the North Downs.

Councillor Patrik Garten in March