Why we should all pay more attention to what’s happening at county hall

Abergavenny Arms

This week we publish a detailed analysis of the Kent County Council budget that highlights yet another reason why all of us should pay more attention to what’s happening at its headquarters in Maidstone.

That’s not to suggest anything is amiss, but the simple fact is that if you care about where your council tax goes, and what it is spent on, then scrutiny should not end at the Town Hall.

County level politics occupies a peculiar place in the mind of voters. It is not local enough to be obviously visible on a day-to-day basis and it does not have the same weighty grandeur of the national scale.

In Tunbridge Wells, the average turnout across each of the six county wards was just under a third of eligible voters – and we are one of the better places for voting. The level of interest, though, should be considerably higher, because 72p of every pound you pay in council tax goes to KCC.

And when budgets are worth almost £2billion and cuts of hundreds of millions of pounds have to be found, we are not talking petty cash, but the sort of budget which puts Kent ahead of many small countries in terms of spending power.

The Civic Society, those self-appointed guardians of architectural integrity, had their awards ceremony last week to highlight the ‘positive’ aspects of the town’s character.

However, one category, the shop front award, was left vacant, with no worthy winners this year. While there are indeed many grim storefronts in Tunbridge Wells, most of which are so generic that Calverley Road may as well be in any other town, there must surely be some redeeming retailers?

For example, perhaps the front window of one of the retailers on The Pantiles, which itself has been nominated for the ‘parade of shops’ category at this year’s Great British High Street Awards? See our story here and don’t forget to vote.

Adam Hignett, Chief Reporter

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