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KCC backs call for more power

Tuesday 23rd December 2014

KENT County Council wants to see more power and more money given to local authorities to give it greater control in running its own affairs.

After the decision to grant Scotland greater autonomy, councillors in Kent believe they too could make a better job of running the county, given more freedom from central government.

A vote in favour of a motion calling on central government to “devolve more powers and money, not just to Scotland but to existing levels of local government at county, district and parish level” was passed almost unanimously, with 77 in favour, one against and one abstention.

KCC leader Paul Carter said: “Now is the time, before the next general election, for local government to really put its marker down about the earned autonomy we should see coming out of Whitehall and Westminster to us."

The motion was proposed at the full council meeting by Susan Carey, KCC deputy cabinet member for finance and procurement, and member for Shepway, Elham Valley.

She said: “People have been asking why it’s acceptable for Scotland to enjoy more control over its affairs and get more money per head of population than the rest of the UK.

“In Parliament they have been debating English votes for English laws and I’m all in favour of that but more than this, I want to see control of our local affairs move from unelected civil servants and quangos to our existing local government structure.”

Cllr Carey compared the government’s school building programme to KCC’s own investment and delivery in new classrooms.

In 2012, KCC successfully bid for 13 schools to be rebuilt under a scheme managed by the government’s Education Funding Authority – but it will be five years before these are delivered.

In contrast, KCC has funded almost 200 new classrooms in the past two years -  the equivalent of 27 new primary schools.

Average building costs for KCC projects are also 25% less than those of the EFA.

Cllr Carey said: “At parish, town, district, borough and unitary level, we are people who live locally and live with the consequences of our decisions. We are committed to our areas in ways that remote official could never be.”