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MBC Councillor Patrik Garten’s Latest Newsletter

Cllr Patrik Garten 1

26/6/23

An ongoing theme is the Local Plan – still.  Maidstone’s LP review is nearing its final stages in the second part of the inspection by an Independent Examiner.  We are still on track to maintain the most powerful tool to control development and to fight unwanted ones.  Most of our neighbouring authorities will find themselves falling off the cliff when their current plans expire with nothing in hand to fight a free-for-all developer’s charter.  Our LPR’s path is rocky but we are on the final stretch and things are looking good, albeit two weeks ago the inspector raised grave concerns regarding our Gypsy and Traveller’s allocations. Thankfully we are already in the process of producing a G&T  Development Plan Document (I reported earlier) to sit alongside our Local Plan Review.  For now, at least, our additional efforts are being given full credit and the day was saved.

 

Have your say on dog control measures

A survey is now open and will run until 6 August asking people for their views on a range of new ‘Public Space Protection Orders’ to make dog owners keep their dogs under control.

In order to encourage responsible dog ownership, the existing Public Space Protection Order for Dog Control outlines a number of measures to protect council public spaces and the community. It includes the requirement for persons in charge of a dog on public land to remove their dogs faeces, the exclusion of dogs from all children’s play areas, whether they are fenced or open and from tennis courts, to keep dogs on leads at both the Sutton Road Cemetery and at the Vinters Park Crematorium, the requirement for a person in charge of a dog to comply with a request from an authorised officer to put a dog on a lead when the dog is causing danger or concern, the offence of failing to keep a dog under proper control and the requirement for a person to give their name and address to an authorised officer when requested to do so.

New additional measures proposed are the requirement for a person in charge of a dog to be to able demonstrate means of removing faeces (carry a bag or equivalent), to require all dogs to be kept on a lead in the town centre and to limit the number of dogs walked by one person at any one time.

Failure to comply with these orders could result in Fixed Penalty Notices up to £100, or prosecution for irresponsible dog owners who fail to adhere to these measures.

 Please visit the consultation page: https://LetsTalkMaidstone.uk.engagementhq.com/dog-control-pspo-2023-review

Changes at the police

Kent police are in the process of rolling out their new Neighbourhood Policing Model.  This is a County model and has meant significant changes to many roles in the force, including the previous PCSOs. You’ll be pleased to know that many of the PCSOs have been retained and are redeployed within the borough in their new roles.   The new Model includes an uplift in PCs for the area, but we will not see a full complement in the borough for a little while.  The new Beat Officer role is however being prioritised so each Cluster will have a level of policing according to its relevant crime (volume/harm).  These officers are supported by a new Neighbourhood Task Force, who are responsible for working with other agencies to solve more complex Community Safety issues. They are also supported by a new child-centred policing team, who will work with young people, communities and schools to protect young people specifically.   

Unitary Councils

North Yorkshire Council’s transition from eight councils to a single unitary authority has saved taxpayers £3.8m annually, according to Cllr Gareth Dadd.  The local authority is aiming to achieve total savings of £67m by uniting the county, district and borough councils, and has cut 24 senior management roles in the process.

A model for Kent? Surely, except that Kent is far too big for a single local authority to function properly … need I say more?  Three unitary authorities plus an enlarged Medway should be the answer for Kent.

 

However, in the meantime a bit of joined-up thinking would do some wonderful good. The public does not care which authority’s budget pays for the services as long as the public gets value for their tax. Cutting down on household recycling sites (HWRS) in order to balance KCC’s books and thereby increasing fly-tipping (which the district councils have to clear at great expense) is not an expression of political intelligence. No money will be saved overall and unsightly fly-tipping diminishes life quality for the payer of the council tax, never mind the extra journey times and CO2 emissions suffered by the law-abiding tax-payers who want to reach a remote HWRS.  Watch out next month for the forthcoming KCC consultation to close quite a few Recycling Sites:   (The consultation hasn’t started yet)

https://letstalk.kent.gov.uk/search?query=consultations

A tip: I hear that in this ‘democratic consultation’ there won’t be a box where you can oppose the closures outright.

Council tax reform?

Fairer-Share is a left-of-centre think tank which proposes replacing council tax – together with stamp duty and the bedroom tax – with a proportional property tax (PPT) based on property values up-rated annually.  The tax would be levied at a flat rate of 0.48% of a property’s market value, apart from that on second homes and empty homes when it would be 0.96%.  At that level, the PPT would raise an extra £5bn a year or so for the Treasury, but if the government wanted to make the new system tax-neutral it could do so by lowering the rates to 0.4% and 0.8% respectively.  I expect that to make this work this tax will have to be collected centrally and then distributed to the regions via a formula.

Sounds good?  Not if your property is in the South-East, possibly a farm building, with a market value of around £1million.  I am sure that plenty of North Downs residents live in relatively modest homes, which appear to have a theoretical price-tag around or over £ 1 million.

What does this think-tank think?  That rural dwellers in the SE are made of money and can afford to pay £5000 council tax out of their petty cash?

As far as I know, this idea is not yet in the current Labour Party manifesto, but it’s been short-listed. Watch this space.

And finally … there are lots of wonderful events planned in Maidstone throughout this summer – too many to mention them all here, but you can browse them here: www.maidstonewhatson.com

 

 

 

PATRIK GARTEN      

MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward  (Conservative)

Phone: 01622-807907