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Ukip councillors call proposed super council an “EU for east Kent” and describes it as bad for democracy

PUBLISHED: 09:25 28 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:25 28 February 2017

East Kent

East Kent

Manakin

Statement from 11 councillors suggests instead power should be deveolved to town and parish councils

Ukip councillors in east Kent say the proposed merger of Thanet, Dover, Shepway and Canterbury councils is “not necessarily in the best interests of residents” - describing it as and “EU for east Kent”.

In calling it “bad for democracy” they instead called for more powers to be devolved to town and parish councils.

In a joint statement, the councillors also said they believed a full unitary authority could be the best way forward - similiar to that of Medway, which pulled away from Kent County Council control.

The statement signed by 11 Ukip councillors from Canterbury, Dover and Shepway said: “We commend the leaders of east Kent district councils for their courage in supporting the proposed mergers of Shepway, Dover, Canterbury and Thanet councils.

“Many of us agree that ultimately, a unitary authority is perhaps the way forward in terms of delivering real value for money for council tax payers. However, at this point in time, the merger at district level is not necessarily in the best interests of residents across all of these areas.

“Ashford Borough Council clearly agrees on behalf of its residents, having withdrawn it’s involvement.

“The devolution of power to town and parish councils, if done correctly, will give a stronger voice for local decision making. We urge for a more clearly defined structures and reassurance of how the new merged council model would achieve this.

“However, these radical changes cannot be achieved overnight and we believe that the proposed merger is being rushed through and that devolution should be in place before such a merger is actioned.

“The proposed merger, in it’s current format, looks something like an EU for east Kent and would be bad for democracy, potentially taking decision making even further away from residents, many of whom already feel at best, under-represented and at worst, ignored.

“Rather than roll over and simply accept the funding cuts imposed by central government, all local authorities should be lobbying for the local government funding model to be revised. The recent example of Surrey County Council’s clash with government highlights the current dire state of local government finance.”

However, the scheme has been fulled supported by Thanet’s Ukip-controlled council.

Those signing the statement include Shepway councillors Susie Govett, Mary Lawes, Carol Sacre and Frank McKenna; Canterbury’s Geoff Wimble and David Hirst; Dover’s Ben Glayzer and Georgette Rapley; KCC councillor Hod Birkby; Hawkinge Town Council’s David Callahan and Dymchurch Parish Council’s Terry Mullard.

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