By Andy Tong andy@timesoftonbridge.co.uk

BREAK THE BANK The new riverside walk at Wouldham

TONBRIDGE & Malling Borough Council [TMBC] is planning for a deficit of £1million for the forthcoming financial year after seeing its grant from central government reduced by almost a quarter.

Its annual budget revealed that the authority’s Settlement Funding Assessment from London for 2018-19 stands at £2.2million, a decrease of 23.6 per cent compared to the previous 12 months.

Since the coalition government took office in 2010, TMBC has seen its core funding decrease by 67 per cent – down from £6.6million to £2.2million. By the year 2020 that figure will have fallen to £1.3million.

In order to address the funding gap, the council has set savings targets of £350,000 for the following two years and £300,000 in the third year.

In its latest budget, which was agreed this month, it states: “It is worth noting that, of the 12 district councils in Kent, TMBC continues to receive one of the lowest, if not the lowest, Settlement Funding Assessment both in total and per head each year over the multi-year settlement period 2016-17 to 2019-20.”

Total expenditure, including a contribution of £433,400 to the revenue reserve, will reach £13million next year.

This will include £998,000 to be spent on flood defence work at Wouldham, near Rochester, to address movement detected in the retaining wall between the public open space and the River Medway.

This increased by £300,000 from the original estimate after a re-evaluation by a consultant quantity surveyor.

Among the costs incurred over the period 2017-18 were the following:

  • £370,000 to refurbish Larkfield Leisure Centre’s health suite including redesign and renewal of spa facilities – and this year a further £505,000 will be spent on ventilation and boiler replacement at the facility.
  • £200,000 ‘to transfer processing capability from desktop PCs to centralised servers to enhance security and facilitate remote and alternative [home] working arrangements’ – as part of an overall expenditure of £402,000 on IT, compared to an annual estimate of £30,000.
  • £141,000 to replace all ticket machines at car parks.
  • £95,000 to replace ‘ageing’ microphone and projector systems in the Council Chamber and Committee Room.