Is Kent breaking up?

Trudy Dean Leader of KCC's Lib Dem Group is calling on Kent Council Leaders to come clean on talks about reshaping councils in Kent.

She says: "Government is offering transfer of more powers to groupings of councils. Paul Carter, Leader of KCC has said he will send his bid for greater KCC powers to government by the end of February. Yet no one, including KCC councillors, has yet seen what that bid will contain. Leaders of Kent district councils are also discussing their bids for more powers which may result in three counci l groupings in North, West and East Kent. It's not clear if county and district leaders are even talking to one another, but they certainly are not talking to Kent people."

All political parties support giving more powers to local councils. But Trudy warns of unclear consequences as Parliament increasingly takes more powers to interfere. MPs in Parliament have this week agreed new laws which if passed would allow Westminster to strip counties of their existing powers if it chooses to hand them to districts instead. Government continues to insist on new council groupings around cities having an elected mayor, but have opened the way for that to happen, together with changes to council boundaries, without the agreement of all councils involved.

Trudy comments "These do not look like the moves of a government responding to local residents wishes. But the truth is that the people of Kent haven't even been asked."

The potential groupings of councils in Kent are likely to be:

North: Gravesham, Dartford, and Medway.

West : Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling, and Sevenoaks.

East: Dover, Shepway, Thanet, Ashford, and Canterbury.

Swale and Maidstone lie on grouping boundaries which means they could opt to join either.

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