All posts tagged 'elections'

A PR car crash for Kent's crime boss + UKIP's purple tide: the week in politics

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, May 30 2014

Here's my round-up of another busy week in Kent politics, featuring an odd miscellany of onions, airplanes, Ann Barnes and - perhaps inevitably - a man called Nigel Farage...

AFTER its victory at the European election, an understandably euphoric UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the next objective would be to propel his "people's army" into Westminster. "Who knows, we might hold the balance of power," he said.

He made it clear the party has set its sights on Kent - where UKIP topped the EU poll in every area bar Tunbridge Wells - as a key battleground in 2015.

As to his own intentions, he more or less confirmed he would stand as a candidate in Kent - saying that it would "probably" be in the south east "somewhere by the seaside."

That would be Thanet South, then.

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Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg cut a chastened figure after enduring a torrid week and looked decidedly off-colour when interviewed about the hammering his party took in the EU poll.

Things turned even worse when there was a botched attempt to undermine his leadership and persuade party activists to dump him before the election.

But when things are that bad for a politician, anything that could be seen as a glimmer of hope is seized on.

Although it wasn't much to cheer, at least the party didn't go into a major meltdown at the Maidstone council elections, where it took the largest share of the vote and defended most of their seats. Its perfomance was overshadowed by UKIP's breakthrough, taking four seats on the council for the first time. 

The Lib Dems even won a seat from the Tories - but that gain was wiped out when they lost a seat to Labour. Still, in politics, it is often the small things that count...

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IF  Nick Clegg had a bad week, it has been nothing in comparison with the truly gruesome one Kent's crime commissioner Ann Barnes experienced.

Her appearance in a warts-and-all Channel 4 documentary "Meet The Commisioner" was a PR car crash to top all PR car crashes.

Even before it was aired, the Kent Police Federation said the clips used as a trailer for the programme had damaged the reputation of the force.

The full programme triggered a frenzy of largely critical social media activity and spawned a parody Twitter account called @AnnBarnesOnion after the commissioner was seen struggling to explain a system of policing priorities based on...an onion.

Viewers were aghast, comparing the show to "The Office" and the Olympic spoof "Twenty Twelve" and most did not think that it showed the commissioner in her best light.

But if it had damaged the reputation of the force, that was nothing compared to the damage done to the commissioner herself. Even one of her former aides and campaign managers, Howard Cox, admitted she had been badly advised to take part.

In characteristically forthright fashion, she defended her participation, saying she wanted to use it to make people understand what her role was.

The irony is that the programme did just that, providing a fascinating insight into what a commissioner does, only not in the way Ann Barnes expected.

In particular, it vividly illustrated that among the public, there is still widespread misunderstanding and confusion over the role, with many thinking commissioners are rather like crime-fighting sheriffs who can ride into town and chase away all the hoodlums.

Perhaps inevitably, she said there had been some "mischevious editing" and in a lengthy statement posted on her website said she was frustrated and disappointed by what had been broadcast.

But for once, her usually hyperactive Twitter account, which she says is the most followed of all crime commissioners, seemed to go rather quiet.

Meanwhile, someone took up a light aircraft trailing a banner reading #ANNBARNES out and flew over police HQ in Maidstone, making her the David Moyles of crime commissioners.

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Categories: Precept

Maria Miller's resignation was inevitable but who wins?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Wednesday, April 9 2014

Maria Miller's resignation was predictable the moment it became clear that many of her Conservative parliamentary colleagues were not happy about her staying in her job and were taking flak on the doorsteps from voters who were questioning why she hadn't already been sacked.

And as the days went on, more Tory MPs were prepared to say publicly it might be better if she went - effectively questioning their leader's judgement and his inistence that she could stay in the cabinet.

The judgement was made by David Cameron that because she had been cleared of the central charge, she ought to be allowed to stay on.

Despite Cameron's emphasis on this point, the finer technical details on which a committee of MPs delivered this verdict went unnoticed by many - or was delibarately ignored.

That is part of the problem with accusations of political sleaze. The public - much to the exasperation of MPs elected in 2010 - were largely oblivious to the fact that her conduct and claims were being judged against the old regulations, not the new ones which have tightened many of the loopholes gratuitously abused by so many former MPs.

Fair or not, there was enough in the standards committee report - not least the charge that she had sought to frustrate the inquiry - to give her opponents ammunition. She did not do herself many favours with her perfunctory apology, a PR car crash by anyone's standards.

It is telling that as a result of this episode, politicians from all parties are now falling over themselves to talk about the need for further reforms to the expenses regulations - having told everyone back in 2010 that they had devised a foolproof set of new rules that would restore the integrity of  politicians and be impossible to circumvent.

The public backlash over the saga is not just about Maria Miller but a wider feeling that our elected representatives still play by different rules. Unless they can address that, distrust will remain.

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The forthcoming European and council elections were undoubtedly a factor in the pressure being heaped on Maria Miller.

An already tricky election for the Conservatives risked becoming even more challenging with sleaze allegations swirling around.

UKIP - already favourites to win the Euro elections - will no doubt pick up even more votes from those disaffected with the mainstream parties. And it still looks like the leader Nigel Farage will be standing as a candidate in Kent.

Whether it is Folkestone and Hythe or Thanet South remains to be seen but Mr Farage came much closer than he has before now to confirming it will be one or the other, telling my colleague Matt Leclere that "it was more than likely" he will be a candidate somewhere in the Garden of England.

 

 

 

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Categories: Politics

A sea change: is the political tide really turning UKIP's way?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Sunday, May 5 2013

UKIP did not win control of any councils and three quarters of people who turned out did not actually vote for them. But it is a measure of the impact it had on the political landscape on Thursday that it has succeeded  in becoming the talking point in the debate about whether the the political map of Britain has been radically redrawn.

No mean achievement for a party dismissed as clowns, loonies and fruitcakes by their opponents.

The Kent County Council election  results and reaction>>>>

Nowhere was their success more shocking or stunning than Kent where against even the most optimistic predictions they came tantalisingly close to depriving the Conservatives of securing control of County Hall for the first time in two decades. From a standing start, they took seat after seat from the Conservatives, who were paralysed with anxiety that their grip on KCC was being loosened. To end up with more seats than Labour and the Liberal Democrats and become the formal opposition was truly staggering.

There are lots of reasons why UKIP did well and it may be that in Kent, sensitivities around issues like immigration and asylum seekers were more pronounced and resonated more with voters than elsewhere. It is telling that the areas where they did particularly well - Thanet and Shepway - are both places which have had deep rooted problems with economic deprivation and have also been areas where the impact of new communities have been seen and felt at first hand.

In fact, while the party did target Thanet, it did not have a concerted campaign in Shepway yet nearly pulled off a clean sweep of all five seats with very little canvassing. Gains in Swale - another area where the recession has hit - were also notable.The exception is the affluent west Kent town of Tunbridge Wells, where it also won seats.

More than that, UKIP has tapped into widespread voter antipathy and disenchantment with mainstream politics and mainstream political parties: its success has a lot to do with people regarding it as anti-establishment; anti-elite and somehow outside the system - a perfect repository for protest votes. But it has also tapped into a major issue that the big parties have spent too long pussy-foting around - Britain's role and future in the EU. The unwilllingnes of the main parties to be explicit (particularly in terms of time scale) about when people might be given a say has been devastating for them.

But after the euphoria of Thursday's results, there comes the cold reality of the consequences of suddenly finding yourself elected to office.

UKIP county councillors will troop into County Hall next week for an induction programme that will remind them that as locally-elected representatives, they will not be able - much as they like -  to spend the next four years banging on about an EU referendum and immigration. They will all be receiving allowances of around £13,000 to represent constituents whose interests may well be rather more parochial but no less important  - the state of their roads, school places, families dealing with difficult social services issues and planning.

The ability of UKIP to build on the momentum that it has will not be based on how loudly local councillors shout about the need for a referendum on Europe. If they want to be more than a flash in the pan and establish a secure position as a genuine political alternative, voters will need to be convinced they can tackle and influence policy in ways that affect - for the better - the 300 different services that Kent County Council provides. It will also be interesting to see how and if the 17-strong group, all newcomers with one or two exceptions, to the world of local government, remain a cohesive unit.

Parties that achieve success quickly and unexpectedly can sometimes find it awkward adjusting to the demands of being elected to public office and it was intriguing hearing in private how some Conservatives at KCC are already speculating over the prospects of "turning" some of the new UKIP councillors and returning them to the Tory fold.

The other challenge, allied to this, is that UKIP's USP - a movement outside the political system - has actually been undermined by their stunning success. They are, in a sense, no longer outsiders looking in at mainstream politics. If they believe the hype and really do consider they are part of a four-party system, then the consequence is that people will at a council level particularly be judging them on what they actually do rather than on what they say.

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For the Conservatives in Kent, the election was a sobering moment. Only once in its history have the Conservatives lost control of County Hall, back in 1993. That they came within a whisker of losing outright control last Thursday was a discomfiting experience, to put it mildy. In one sense, they were not being punished because of their track record over the last four years but were being punished for the perceived failings of the coalition, which is what they had expected.

But I do think that the party has to do more than blame the dismal results on mid-term blues. Senior Conservatives in Kent have been quick to turn their fire on the national leadership, with KCC leader Paul Carter being particularly damning - accusing some in his party at Westminster of acting more like Lib Dems than Conservatives.

Implicit in this is the idea that the party's woes can be dealt with by a lurch to the right. I am not so sure. The received wisdom so far as general elections are concerned is that they are won and lost in the middle ground. Tony Blair won three because he realised that in places like Kent, classic middle England territory, you had to appeal to the centre ground to deliver victory. 

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Labour has insisted that it is satisfied with the progress it has made in Kent but it fell short of its key objective: recapturing all the seats it had lost back in 2009.

For it to have shown it was making real advances, it should have won more and the fact that it has secured too few to even be the official opposition at County Hall is not where it wants or needs to be. Ed Miliband staked a lot by coming to traditional Tory heartland during the campaign but on these results, it seems the party still has a Southern Discomfort issue.

Their one hope may be that over the next four years, there will inevitably be  a handful of by-elections. The Tories need only lose a few seats for the arithmetic to be changed in a way that just might lead to the authority having a different rainbow coalition.

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We expect the jungle drums at County Hall to be beating with news of a Conservative cabinet reshuffle within a few days. The defeat of the well-regarded cabinet member for schools Mike Whiting means there will have to be changes. Education remains one of the key roles and there are many awkward issues looming, not least trying to persuade Michael Gove to back the KCC plans for a new grammar school.

The other gossip surrounds the future of the deputy leader Alex King, who was unable to be at his count after breaking his leg. It could be that his tenure as the reliable second-in-command could be coming to an end. If it is, perhaps the role could go to the Sevenoaks councillor Roger Gough - well-thought of, intelligent and potentially a good foil to the rather direct style of the current leader.

But I also think he'd make a good education cabinet member. And whenever I make these predictions, they usually turn out to be well wide of the mark so you might be advised to disregard them...

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Precept

Why you should vote in the police commissioner elections

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Wednesday, November 14 2012

IT is one of the ironies of the government's proposals for directly-elected police commissioners that public indifference to the idea is in stark contrast to the importance voters place on crime and safety.

(You see the same with Europe and voter turnout in the EU elections).

So, if the forecasts of pollsters are credible, turnout in tomorrow's ballot looks like being pretty dismal although there are some surveys suggesting that it might not be as bad as some fear.

Read our special report on the elections and find out who the candidates are

Plenty of people dislike the concept of elected commissioners and are uneasy about the idea that politicians who have to serve the twin interests of their party and residents may be in charge of such an important public service.

Many others remain thoroughly confused by what is going on and are labouring under the misapprehension that they are voting for American-style sheriffs, who will have control of the police force on a day-to-day basis.

Even some of Kent's candidates have failed to grasp the distinction between their strategic role, outlining pledges that stray into the chief constable's territory.

The government has to shoulder some responsibility for this confusion and apathy. It has not done as much as it should to promote the elections and explain clearly what they are about.

But this week's ballot is not on the government's handling of its flagship policy, much as some want it to be.

It is about who you think is the best person to do the job of ensuring Kent Police is keeping the streets, towns and villages safe and making sure that taxpayers are getting value for money.

And while there are undoubtedly imperfections in the arrangements for commissioners, the policy, for the first time, gives voters a direct say in who they want to do that job.

No-one has ever voted for anyone to be on the police authorities and the checks and balances on what they did were pretty non-existent.

Police commissioners, on the other hand, will have to be more transparent and accountable to residents. They will also be answerable to independent crime panels, who will be able to summon them to account - in public - about their decisions.

So, many may not like the idea but it would be wrong to stay at home as a way of registering disapproval.

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Making a prediction on the result appears to be beyond even those involved in masterminding their candidates' election campaigns.

The low turnout, coupled with a new voting system involving second preferences could skew the outcome in unpredictable ways.

For what it is worth, I would be surprised if any of Kent's six candidates win by securing a majority on first preferences.

Which brings us to which two candidates will make it through to the final round and the tricky issue of where second preference votes will go.

Best guess? There will be a run-off between the independent candidate Ann Barnes and the Conservative Craig Mackinlay.

But knowing where second preferences will go is virtually impossible. Possible scenarios? The Conservatives may pick up second preference votes from UKIP supporters - whose campaign has bordered on invisibility - and some of those backing the English Democrats.  

There is no natural second home for Labour supporters but I would guess they will go for an independent candidate (if they use it) as a strategy to stop the Conservatives winning.

Liberal Democrats have no candidate but it's a stretch to think they will back a Conservative or Labour candidate and are most likely to go for an independent and that will be Ann Barnes. Some may opt for Dai Liyanage who is a former Liberal.

One thing that could tip the scales is postal votes. Ann Barnes sent out a personal letter with the postal voting pack and her team believe it has paid dividends. For some reason, the Conservatives did not and feel they may have missed a trick.

Given all the uncertainties, perhaps the only safe thing to predict is that by Friday we will have Kent's first-directly elected police and crime commissioner...

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Categories: Police | Politics

Why the argument over the politicisation of policing won't determine who becomes the Kent police commissioner

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Wednesday, November 7 2012

It would be overstating matters to say that there has been a sudden rush of interest in the race to become Kent's first-directly elected police commissioner. I certainly don't detect any Obama type bounce.

Voters will go to the polls next Thursday and there remains a fear the turnout will be dismal - possibly as low as 15%.

That is not to say people are uninterested in the issue of crime and policing.

It is one of the ironies of the government's flagship reform that public apathy towards a new generation of elected police chiefs is in direct contrast to polling which consistently makes crime - and fear of crime - a major pre-occpuation of voters.

The problem with the election is that when you examine the manifestos and policy pledges of the six candidates standing, there isn't an awful lot that separates them.

They all believe in giving greater support to victims. All - to varying degrees - oppose creeping privatisation. All want to give the criminal fraternity a harder time; all believe in the importance of visible policing; they all want to improve social cohesion. And so on.

It's as bland a set of commitments as the bowls of rice contestants in "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!" face over the coming weeks.

The candidates were given a chance to air their views and proposals at a hustings meeting at the University of Kent's Medway campus last night.

During the evening, someone tweeted: "I promise to prioritorise visible policing and get tough on crime. Not just tough, zero tolerance tough...have I won yet?"

Sarcastic, yes but they have a point.

The specific policy pledges, such as they are, have often been eclipsed by soundbite politics in which, it seems to me, the candidates have been more inclined to talk in generalities about their aims and aspirations and have been a little fearful of being too specific.

Partly, this is a reflection of the fact that the commissioner has a strategic rather than operational role and candidates are wary of stepping into territory where they might be regarded as interfering in day-to-day policing.

While they understand this, in general the public don't - or are at least confused.

At the hustings meeting, there was a telling moment when the candidates were asked to identify a single strategy proposal for bringing down crime that did not involve the words "zero tolerance". The answers were as woolly as a flock of Romney Marsh sheep.

Which brings me to the issue that has set a few sparks flying - the debate about the danger of policing becoming politicised by commissioners.

Actually, the argument has been about the party politicisation of policing, which is not exactly the same thing. Even independent candidates will become - if they win - "political" figures, albeit under a non-party political banner.

Some people are genuinely concerned about this and contend that it will be the issue that determines the outcome.

There's an instinctive unease among many about the idea of police control being vested in a politician. (It reminds me of the quote about education being too important to allow politicians to be involved).

Ann Barnes, who is one of the leading independent candidates, has made the issue the centrepiece of her campaign.

The campaign literature of Dai Liyanage, another independent, is headed "Not Just Another Political Puppet."

But is this an issue which has the resonance on the doorstep some think it has?

At the hustings meeting, it was striking that the audience didn't actually seem to care terribly much about the candidates' political colours.

The questions they asked were not party political ones but focused on what would be done, for example, to tackle anti-social behaviour or drug dealing.

In other words, who would do the best job to make our towns and villages safe?

And that, it seems to me, is what the election should ultimately be about.

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ONE of the complaints made about the election is that not enough has been done to publicise it. Public disengagement has certainly been an issue.

So, why has the Police Area Returning Officer Nadeem Aziz decreed that the media are to be banned from using social media like Twitter and Facebook to report from the election count at Dover town hall?

To call it bizarre is an under-statement and there are questions about whether it as any legal force, especially when these are the ways in which many people now expect to get news.

We are challenging the ban and so too are some of the candidates and their agents. Let's hope commonsense prevails.

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The six candidates standing in the election have, as a result of a challenge by a member of the audience at the hustings meeting, agreed to declare the donations and expenses of their campaign's before polling day. (Electoral law means they don't have to until after the election)

We'll be publishing all these when we get them all.

 

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Categories: Politics

Another runner on the blocks to become Kent's first elected police chief. Plus: Kent County Council's Birds Eye budget

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Tuesday, July 24 2012

Anyone who has come across Ann Barnes will know her as someone who isn't afraid to speak her mind and has fairly forthright views.  (A bit like Ann Widdecombe).

Among the subjects that she has not been backward in coming forward on is the government's plans for elected police commissioners. And the policy is not one she has been enthused about - until now.

Long before yesterday's official launch of her campaign to become Kent's first elected police commissioner, plenty of people were speculating that she might put her name in the hat but she steadfastly refused to say she would.

So, what has changed her mind?

According to Ann, there is no inconsistency in her misgivings about the policy and her candidacy - "we are where we are" is how she puts it - but it is the twin fears about the police coming under increasing political control and greater privatisation that convinced her to put her name in the frame.

Interestingly, I'm told she did receive overtures from at least one political party a while ago but is said to have declined.

She is undoubtedly one of the more credible independent candidates on the starting blocks.

It is an astute move to bring in the energetic Peter Carroll to mastermind her campaign - the man who gave Ann Helen Grant a close run at the last general election as a Lib Dem candidate and who can list successes with Gurkhas and the Fair Fuel among notable campaigns.

But like all independent candidates, she will not have the advantage of a party machine behind her and be able to call on members and activists to post letters and knock on doors. In a county as large as Kent, that will prove a challenge although it is one she seems to relish.

Then there is the issue of her profile. She is well known among the political establishment as the long-standing chair of the Kent Police Authority, which is not to be sniffed at. But beyond the corridors of power and Kent Police HQ?

Still, her presence in the contest will make it infinitely more interesting and stands to make it less likely to become a run-off between the two main party candidates - Conservative Craig Mackinlay and Labour's Harriet Yeo.

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It looks like we won't have to wait too long before we find out how KCC's Conservative leadership intends to save £100m out of next year's budget. Unlike previous years, the budget proposals are to be published in September - not December of January. Why?

Well, you could call me an old cynic but getting bad news out of the way early, especially in an election year, is a tried and trusted political ploy.

Mind you, judging by the tit bits from leader Paul Carter at last week's full council meeting, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it will be a vote winner rather than a vote loser.

The spin doctors have been at work too - it seems the theme will be based around four 'Ps' - partnership, productivity, procurement and prevention (that last one is not about preventing votes being lost, by the way.)

And the fifth 'P' will be - roll of drums - the 'people of Kent.' Clever, eh?

So, what shall we call it? With all these 'p's around, I rather like the idea of it being the Birds Eye budget.

 

 

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Categories: Politics

Why hacking scandal is an achiles heel for Cameron

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, July 8 2011

When voters in Kent go to the polls in 2015 to elect a new government, will they be pausing in the ballot box to reflect on how the government handled the hacking scandal and David Cameron's choice of Andy Coulson as his press chief?

No, tof course they won't. The state of the economy, the health service, schools and the nation's general prospects will be far more important and the conclusions of a Judicial inquiry into the Press will not be foremost in voters' minds.

Nevertheless, our view of politicians is influenced as much by what we think about their personal judgements and character as it by how they have run the country.

Which is why David Cameron is, arguably for the first time, finding people wondering about his sureness of touch and why it matters how he is responding to the current hacking scandal.

You won't find many people who will now give him credit for appointing Andy Couslon and, if it turns out that he is charged and convicted, people will wonder even more about the decision.

Like Blair, Cameron has (notwithstanding his Eton background) sought to capitalise on the sense that he is a "regular guy" who "gets it" when it comes to how the public view the government and its actions in responding to the kind of everyday challenges and problems most of us have.

But he has been on the back foot for much of this week and his usual adroitness in identifying with the general climate of public opinion over an issue has deserted him. 

He is now discovering how easy it is for the public's trust and faith to be eroded. Trust and integrity are incredibly valuable commodities for any politician.

And for a leader, it can be fatal to appear to be more concerned about the vested interests of commercial conglomerates and big business than the man or woman struggling to get through a recession. He is fortunate that it has not only the Conservatives who have danced to Murdoch's tune over the years.

Cameron has time to recover lost ground. But the hacking scandal has exposed a vulnerability and lack of deftness in the PM that has wounded him and left a nasty scar.

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Categories: Politics

A rare Conservative revolt over library closures plans: how a retreat happened

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Wednesday, June 22 2011

Mention the word "libraries" in any council and the word "closures" is likely to follow fairly swiftly.

And it has been a condundrum Kent County Council's Conservative administration has been wrestling with for some time. The communities budget, like every other part of the council's spending, is having to take a hit and the issue has been how best to make the necessary cuts.

But it seems there has been something of a rare revolt among the 73-strong Conservative group over some rather contentious proposals that would have seen the closure - or at least the ending of council funding for - a rather substantial number of libraries.

Precise figures are hard to come by but at least one source has mentioned over 40. However, the leadership is in retreat after a Conserative group meeting held this week saw backbenchers express their horror at the scale of the possible cuts and demanded a re-think.

Sources say that many county councillors were aghast at the proposals, not least because some of those identified for closure were in Kent's Conservative heartlands. Others pointed out that they had made various election commitments that local libraries in their areas would be safeguarded.

And of course, many recognised exactly what a PR challenge it would be to justify the cuts to a service that has enormous sentimental attachment. As one put it: "You can do more or less what you like to any other service and not many will care, but not to libraries."

Others warned of the dire electoral consequences pointing out that given the time needed for consultation and the decision-making process, libraries could well be closing their doors perilously close to the next KCC election.

KCC had tried to sweeten the pill by suggesting that libraries could be taken over by parish or town councils, or by volunteer groups - an example of The Big Society. But that seems to have failed to persuade the group that they could get away with it - particularly given the constraints all parts of the public sector are facing.

So the upshot is that for the time being at least, widespread library closures are off the agenda (although I understand there may be a handful that could be shutting their doors) and the Conservative leadership has been persuaded that it needs to come up with another masterplan.

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It seems that KCC may have inadevertently acted unlawfully over payments made to its election returning officer for running county council elections.

In a rather complex report on the issue, KCC's legal eagle Geoff Wild has told councillors that while the fees paid to both the county returning officer in the past (former chief executive Peter Gilroy) were made in good faith, the council's arrangements that permitted the chief executive and his colleagues in districts to effectively decide for themselves what fees they should get were "inappropriate and not permitted in law at least as far as the county council is concerned."

The issue has been partly resolved by including the job of running KCC elections into the duties of the new managing director of the council Katherine Kerswell.

Opposition Lib Dem Tim Prater is not happy, saying that if the payments made in the past - according to him, about £60,000 over three elections to the ex-chief executive - were unlawful then KCC ought to be going about getting the money back.

However, his attempts to do so at yesterday's Electoral and Boundary Review Committee meeting failed to find favour among Conservatives on the committee and his proposal fell.

One thing that did suprise some councillors on the committee were the recommended fees for district council returning officers who ran KCC elections in their areas.  Between them, returning officers stand to get £47,376 in fees next time, with individual payments ranging from £3,201 (Dartford) to £5,190 (Maidstone).

Cllr Keith Ferrin (Con) suggested these were in the same league as the wages paid to premiership football players and they should be more modest. I'm not sure which football stars he had in mind.

 

 

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