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Tory leader's tributes to predecessor who defected to indies

Thursday 21st February 2019

A FORMER Conservative borough council leader has resigned the party whip to become an independent.  
Chris Garland, who represents Shepway North, was in charge from 2008 until 2014 when the Tories held a working majority at the authority. 
He did not see eye to eye with group leader, John Perry, over Maidstone Borough Council’s decision to take Kent County Council to the High Court over the spending of developer contributions (or S106 cash). 
Cllr Perry said: “I have huge respect for Chris but he has decided to join the independents. He does not like my stance on the judicial review, in that I want it put on hold and for the leaderships of both authorities to speak to each other."
But no matter who wins the argument at the High Court, the tax-payer picks up the tab, he said. 
MBC challenged KCC over £200,000 in S106 contributions from A274 housing developments which KCC wanted to spend on surveys for a relief road. 
MBC is adamant the money goes towards accommodating road amendments. Leader Martin Cox and his chief executive Alison Broom claim they have taken the action to provide “clarity” on the issue of S106 money disposal. 
The Liberal Democrat-led council is now wedded to the concept of “modal shift” to mitigate against the tens of thousands of extra cars expected on the roads because of MBC’s 17,600 new home allocation in the Local Plan. This is likely to increase to 25,000 houses when the plan is reviewed. 
MBC’s management hopes modal shift will persuade motorists to walk, cycle and use buses. Cllr Cox admitted to Downs Mail last year that he was not “100% sure” that modal shift will work. 
Cllr Garland was approached for a comment. He did not respond.