WITH the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (December 3), Swale Borough Council begins the process of setting a budget for next year With all-out elections in May, this is a year of potential local change. The day-to-day spending (revenue budget) faces many long-term pressures, with uncertainty about the Government support grant, business rates and the new homes bonus, which is now an essential part of our income. However, the council does have over £13 million in reserves. We would not suggest that this can prop up the revenue budget but some of it ought to be used for prudent “one-off” spending to improve the general public realm across the whole borough. More than £3 million has been allocated to a Sittingbourne town centre car park. In the Labour group we fear that more and more money could be reserved for Sittingbourne town centre and so, we are proposing a range of improvements across the borough to benefit all our local taxpayers.
We would invest £1 million in improvements to the tourism and recreation offer at places like Oare gunpowder works, Milton creek country park, the seafront, Barton’s Point and Faversham recreation ground. Some £500,000 would go into enhancing the appearance of our public places, such as our high streets, public parks and cemeteries with footpath, signage and seating improvonionts. Investment needs to go into places such as Beach Fields in Sheerness. Labour would also invest £1 million in updating our borough leisure facilities. This would include our children’s play areas, equipment for disabled children and for outdoor fitness activities, the Sittingbourne skate park and our outdoor sports facilities. Finally, we would allocate £500,000 for finding local accommodation for homeless families and support for funding to the Faversham Creek Bridge. This adds up to £3 million, which the current council has allocated to a car park in one of our towns. People can judge what is better value for their money.
Roger Truelove, Swale Labour Group
Herne Bay Times, December 3rd 2014