In a rare turn of events the Conservative-controlled borough council finds itself at odds with the Conservative Government, although in private councillors would probably put it a wee bit stronger than that.
In fact they are more than a little annoyed, as in spitting blood, and an unbiased observer might say they have just cause.
Most people stifle a yawn when you mention local authority finance.
Particularly when you throw in words such as Rate Support Grants. I mean, who can get excited? Well, the answer is that all of us should get excited because what’s about to happen will impact each and every one of us.
The government has, at the last minute, decided to change the way it returns money to councils to support local services. It means Tunbridge Wells is about to be short-changed to the tune of £781,000. Our grant is being halved and will then disappear altogether and after that we will actually pay money to support less well-run authorities.
The loss of those funds will mean the council looking long and hard at how it can save costs on things such as parks and play areas, leisure centres, summer events and festivals, street cleaning, waste collection and a whole host of other things.
And there’s a double irony tucked away here.
We’re being penalised, apparently, because were ‘the most self-sufﬁ cient and deemed best able to cope’. In other words we’re one the most successfully managed councils so we deserve to suffer funding reductions. What happened Mr Cameron to rewarding effort and enterprise?
Now, in situations like this you might appeal to your very own Conservative MP for help. That’s where the second irony kicks in. The whole sorry saga is being managed and implemented by the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for that department is – our MP Greg Clark.
Richard Moore, Editorial Director