KCC blames Government for 12.5% council tax rise...27 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 27, 2003 - 11:13 AM

KCC claim: "A deliberate Government shift in funding for councils away from the south east has hit Kent County Council hard and has led to a proposed increase in council tax of 12.5 per cent in Kent – and 15%-20% across south east county councils."

Kent’s rise is lower than its neighbouring county councils. Kent County Council has set out budget proposals that drastically cut back on funding for central administration in order to hold back the council tax rise. Job losses of 300 are expected, to be taken over 3 years.

Kent will this year be passing on all the spending increases for schools outlined by the Government but not fully backed by national grant funding. There is a similar commitment by the Council for social care services.

Kent’s budget dilemma comes just weeks after the County Council was named as one of the best run councils in the country following a nationally introduced inspection.

Council Leader, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said, “This is a bitter pill. Our staff have performed so well and now we have been asked to perform mission impossible. Our Government grant has been increased by 3.9 per cent – compared to twice as much for councils in the north and midlands. At the same time we have been told to increase schools spending by 6.6 per cent and funding for services for the elderly and vulnerable is to rise by 8.6 per cent. Only cuts and council tax rises can fill the gap.

“Our commitment to essential front-line services remains unshakeable and we will fully support them. But we also have a commitment to the council tax payer and we cannot just pass on substantial extra costs that have not been funded by the Government.

“We will therefore be radically reducing our central administrative budget by 25 per cent - not an easy job as our central services have been judged highly efficient during national inspection and we already have the lowest wage bill as a percentage of budget of any County Council.�

The fact that Kent received far less than the average Government grant increase is made far worse because every 1% rise in council spending costs a 2.89% increase in council tax.

Kent schools were told by the Government Education Minister that they would receive more than 6% in funding, however the Government grant allocation rose by only 3.2%. For next year the County Council will fill this schools funding gap – forcing up the council tax.

Sir Sandy said the County had fought long and hard to prevent Government grant being moved away from the South East and was very grateful for the valuable and united support of school representatives, care home leaders, Kent’s Labour and Conservative MPs plus the health service, police and fire leaders.

“Everyone knows it costs more to employ people and run services in the south east, yet the grants have been switched to other parts of the country. Kent has very serious areas of deprivation the equal of anything in the north and midlands. I totally reject any claim that people in the south east are more able to afford council tax increases,� said Sir Sandy.

The council tax recommendations for Kent went before the County Council Cabinet today and will be finally decided at a full meeting of the Council on 20 February.


Worm Attack...27 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 27, 2003 - 03:27 AM

Over this weekend, the Internet has experienced a massive attack by a worm hitting hundreds of data centers and trying to exploit a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 vulnerability.

Even though our server is not exploitable, the traffic and packets caused by this worm has still caused long downtimes to all of the networks on which our servers are connected to. Some servers have been back up within 2-4 hours, others are still slowly coming back to normal.

Our server has not been compromised or experienced any data loss at all, as we are running RedHat Linux as the operating system, not Windows.

This was not a hit onto our server only, however against the entire Internet and its backbones. Several major websites, including Yahoo, EBay and CNN have experienced serious outages this weekend.


Anger over sale of land - 28 March 2007

Contributed by localrags on Jan 24, 2003 - 05:49 PM

Hawkinge Parish Council Chairman, David Callahan, is furious that Shepway council is proposing to sell one acre of land in the centre of the village for just £150,000.

The triangle of land adjacent to the rear of the Community Centre is designated in the Local Plan for social or community facility use, but the Shepway legal officer's comments in a report states that the purchasers, Edinburgh Land Estates Limited, must obtain planning permission for a purpose other than a retail shop, church or public house.

Part of the site is currently used as a visitor car park for the Hawkinge Community Centre and the report states purchasers must agree to a permanent legal right to parking facilities for visitors to the centre.

Cllr Callahan thinks the land to be under priced and considers it could be worth as much as £400,000.

He angry too about the "clawback" agreement which allows the purchaser to sell the land within 5years and repay Shepway half of the profit, or to sell it after 5years and pay them nothing.

"The "clawback" period should be 25 years," said Cllr Callahan.

Shepway District Council have been trying to sell the land since 2001, but they say legal issues regarding shared parking have made the land difficult to market.

The sale will be discussed by Shepway's Cabinet on Wednesday (28 March).

Folkestone town beat officer "gets on his bike"....24 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 24, 2003 - 05:44 PM

The sight of the local beat officer riding around on his bike might be considered as something of the past, but it's about to be brought back to life in Folkestone.

PC John Weller's being presented with a brand new bike to help him get around his patch more effectively.

The bike, a Navigator 200TM, is being generously sponsored by Active - the sports shop in Sandgate Road, Folkestone, and the manufacturers TREK Bicycle Corporation.

The bike has 21-gears and suspension and will be ideal for PC Weller to get around the town, alleyways and pathways more quickly.

PC Weller took over the role of Town Beat Constable in December last year and has already made an impact by taking an active role in the Folkestone Area Partnership Against Crime which was recently awarded the Safer Shopping Award.

PC Weller said: "The bike will enable me to keep a closer eye on what is happening in my beat. It's also faster than being on foot and more practical than being in a car. It also has the obvious advantage of keeping me fit! I'd like to thank Active for their generosity for making it happen."

Manager of Active, Steve Burton, said: "We are pleased to help PC Weller by co-sponsoring the Navigator 200. We hope it will make his job easier and help to keep crime in the town centre down."


It is going to take something very special indeed to attract shoppers...24 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 24, 2003 - 08:22 AM

Whilst I'm sure that the idea of improving the shops is very commendable, I can't help but think that it will all be too late.

I no longer bother to go into Folkestone's town centre very often. Sainsbury's at Park Farm is very good but the town centre is now very poor compared to the surrounding areas.

Ashford's McArthur Glen outlet is cheap and very good whereas Canterbury is still very pleasant.

It is going to take something very special indeed to attract shoppers back to Folkestone's town centre.



What is this war all about? ...24 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 24, 2003 - 07:12 AM

Who mentioned oil?


Dixons at the Gazette Marketplace

Contributed by localrags on Jan 23, 2003 - 09:35 AM

Van plunges off cliffs at Capel....22 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 22, 2003 - 02:53 PM

A 26-year-old Folkestone man was seriously injured after his van plunged down cliffs at Capel le Ferne.

The Kent Air Ambulance airlifted the man to the William Harvey Hospital.

The van fell more than 250 feet off the cliff, missing the electrified railway line below, andcoming to rest in thick undergrowth.

A witness called police after seeing the van going over the cliff near Winehouse Lane in Capel le Ferne.

Police, fire, ambulance and coastguards, worked for over an hour to free the man. An RAF rescue helicopter was also called to the scene.

Trains continued to operate on the line during the rescue but were proceeding with caution past the crash site.


Light at the end of the Tunnel....22 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 22, 2003 - 06:23 AM

The latest figures from Eurotunnels latest trading figures have shown a big drop in the amount of rail freight it carried in 2002.

Last year's business figures show that rail freight tonnage carried by EWS (English Welsh and Scottish Railways) through the Channel Tunnel fell by 40 per cent.

This has been attributed almost exclusively due to the number of stowaways trying to get aboard its trains, causing cut back and even totally suspended services at some times.

But it is not all doom and gloom for Channel Tunnel traffic

The closure of the Sangatte Red Cross Centre together coupled with increased security at the Frethun rail freight depot near Calais have improved the situation, and EWS says it has not had any refugees trying to stowaway for four months.

Eurotunnel's operating revenues totalled £570 million last year, an overall increase of two per cent on the 2001 figure.


Euro cash to improve Folkestone shops....22 January 2003

Contributed by localrags on Jan 21, 2003 - 07:44 PM

The organisation set up to underpin partnership links between Folkestone and Boulogne is bidding for £653,525 of European funding to continue the revitalisation of the shopping centres on both sides of the Channel.

If successful, the bid by BOSCO would help fund a project aimed at improving shopping centres in Folkestone and Boulogne.

With matched funding from Shepway Council and its partners, the total value of the project is £1.6 million.

The project would include improvements of public spaces with a £563,000 extension of new paving, lighting and other enhancements into the rest of Guildhall Street and the Sandgate Road precinct.

At the Boulogne and Shepway Co-operation association second annual meeting in Boulogne recently, Cllr Rory Love, Shepway Council Leader, and first President of BOSCO, said it had been a ‘very fruitful’ first year.

One of the highlights had been a successful bid for funding to enable BOSCO to continue its work in both towns. Folkestone and Boulogne were each awarded £38,210 from the European Regional Development Fund.

“ The work we have started on both sides of the Channel will continue with the same enthusiasm and commitment that have always been the hallmarks of the friendship between the two towns,� said Cllr Love, who handed the presidency over to the new mayor of Boulogne, Frederick Cuvillier.

He described the town centres project as exciting and innovative and said the people of Folkestone and visitors to the town would be able to see real benefits from it.

“We want to increase the number of shoppers visiting Folkestone and Boulogne. We aim to do this by continuing to improve the attractiveness of public spaces, improving the way we provide information about each town, improving customer care in shops and providing language skills training both to retail staff and to unemployed people to help them get back into work.�