February 2019 newsetter from our Borough Councillor.

Hollingbourne Parish Council has received the following newsletter from Councillor Patrik Garten in which he comments on walkers on the North Downs. Please Read More for further information.

BUDGET TOURISTS TRAMPLE DOWN THE AONB !

Budget tourists, who come to the North Downs for walking holidays, disturb communities, without bringing a monetary benefit to the Borough ! – A valid point ?

If you look at major tourist cities like Rome, you may notice that modern tourism does indeed stifle the natural community. When I visited the Coliseum in 1984, you could count the visitors on the fingers of twenty hands. I returned recently and it was so packed, that I assumed it was cup-final day.

Modern tourism certainly has its downsides, which, on a few specific individual occasions, need further consideration. On the whole however, tourism is a valuable economic asset, which brings not only monetary advantages. Kent is neither Rome nor the Coliseum.

Tourism is a form of international contact and international understanding. In my view, it is an undervalued feature that can provide many, not only monetary, benefits to Maidstone and beyond.

In the forthcoming months MBC will discuss its Tourism Destination Management Plan. I will seek to embrace responsible tourism for Maidstone and I am assured the support of my political group.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

You probably heard about the judicial review between Liberal led Coalition run Maidstone (MBC) and Conservative administered Kent County Council (KCC). The pleadings are in the public domain.

In order to be granted planning permission, a developer paid a so-called Section 106 (S106) contribution. This is a payment to offset the negative effects of a development on the surrounding area and infrastructure.

MBC’s local plan seeks to promote modal shift, the shift from car use to other forms of transport. The authority likes to see the A274 widened for a peak time bus lane. The S106 money was to be spent on that.

However, KCC is the Highways Authority. They are totally opposed to the bus lane idea. As far as KCC is concerned, the bus lane will never ever happen.

KCC therefore took the decision to use some of this money on a feasibility study for a Leeds / Langley relief road. Such a study is the required first step on a very long journey to possibly build this very much-needed relief road.

MBC has challenged KCC’s handling of the process by means of a Judicial Review.

There are good legal arguments on both sides; but when two parties fight in court, the lawyers laugh all the way to the bank!

I and my party group believe that resorting to legal challenges is wasteful use of taxpayers’ money and that this matter should be resolved by the respective parties getting together.

COUNCIL TAX

Which leads me (fluently) to the next subject: tax increases. As it stands, the Council’s leadership will be considering whether to increase the Council Tax to the maximum permitted 3%.

Throughout all committee stages, I voted against all budget proposals, which seek any increases of fees or taxes. I will continue to do so this year.

MBC’s share is a mere 14% of your whole council-tax bill. Any increase of MBC’s share would only be a couple of quid each month. -But, it is your money!

I am not seeking the liberty to take your money at will, just because I can. Be it pennies or pounds.

MBC has far lesser problems than KCC or the police. County Councils up & down the country face black holes in their social services budgets. Education fails many of our children -….. and the highways: …… well you live in the North Downs, do I need to elaborate?

Just because other Authorities MUST does not translate for me that Maidstone CAN.

I am convinced that Maidstone’s precept does not need to increase this year in order to provide effective services.

– Unfortunately, I am part of the current opposition at MBC.

PATRIK GARTEN (Cons)
MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward

Email: patrikgarten@maidstone.gov.uk
Phone: 01622-807907

Pictured below is Councillor Garten.

MBC Councillor Patrik Garten for North Downs Ward including Hollingbourne.