Kent Councillor in charge of buses loses job

    The county councillor with responsibility for transport has lost his job on the eve of a ­consultation into a controversial bus reform.

    Cllr Matthew Balfour was sacked as Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste this week, with Cllr Mike Whiting taking the post.

    From next Wednesday, January 17, Kent County Council (KCC) will hold a two-month consultation into plans to end 78 services, including a ­combined 23 in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

    County Hall could achieve £4million in savings by making the changes, but last month KCC Leader Paul Carter apologised that a list of routes which could disappear was ‘prematurely released’.

    At that time Cllr Carter said: “Because of this I am making a personal pledge to handle the forthcoming programme of negotiations.”

    A statement released by KCC did not state why Cllr Balfour, who represents Malling Rural East on the authority, had been replaced.

    He had been in the role since February 2015 and the decision to remove him was not made as part of a wider reshuffle.

    Cllr Balfour said: “It’s been a real privilege and a pleasure to work with the KCC officers responsible for our road network, planning and the environment and I wish them well for the future.”

    Cllr Carter said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Matthew for his hard work and dedication as Cabinet Member for the past three years.”

    Cllr Whiting of Swale Central said: “I am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to return to Cabinet and am looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

    He had previously served in education.