KENT CONSERVATIVES POINT FINGERS IN PLAYGROUND POLITICS

Months after the Conservative leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, warned that frontline services in Kent would have to be cut, because their ‘budget has decreased substantially over the last four years’ and urging Westminster Tories to ease austerity measures, Kent Tory MPs have come out in a letter pointing the finger right back at KCC and urging Mr Carter to rethink proposed cuts to bus services.

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The 10 co-signing MPs include the recently-lesser-spotted Charlie Elphicke and the-man-who-knows-the-offside-rule Damian Collins, yet nowhere in the letter are the cuts to bus services attributed to their own government’s strangulation of the Revenue Support Grant. Such a letter will undoubtedly lead to accusations of the signatories’ blind hypocrisy, as all the signing Tory MPs have consistently voted for the austerity measures that have led to such frontline services being cut in the first place.

Back in January, The Economist warned that Local Authorities might soon be unable to meet their statutory obligations, with projections now estimating that between 2015 and 2020, the Revenue Support Grant will have shrunk 77p in the pound. In an article for The Financial Times in July of this year, Andy Bounds clarified that ‘in 2015/16, councils received £9.9bn in Revenue Support Grant (RSG). By 2019/20, they will get £2.2bn.’ The Conservative government has constituently refused to lift the squeeze on the revenue support grant; and now here are 10 Conservative MPs nakedly passing the buck to a lower level of government.

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It won’t be lost on the Kent public that only a few weeks ago, the very same Tory MPs that yesterday signed this letter to Mr Carter, welcomed in Phillip Hammond’s budget with the obligatory Commons whoops and smiles that have become commonplace on their benches in these years of austerity.  To mix up a seasonal metaphor, the proof is in the Christmas pudding and if Kent Tories continue to back central government’s ongoing austerity measures, then is just a sad act of opportunistic penmanship of which they should be ashamed. The reason pensioners will be trapped at home and schoolchildren left standing waiting for a bus that will never come, is because their own government.

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