£12 million pounds by the reckoning of almost all in Maidstone is not an insignificant sum, and certainly more than tuppenny rice and treacle. However, it took just 27 seconds to introduce the amendment to MBC’s Medium Term Financial Strategy Capital Expenditure programme wiping off a planned £12 millions of investment in Public Realm and Greening planned between 2025 and 2028.
The amendment was introduced as follows by cabinet member Cllr. Cooper:
“…the second is relating to the town centre strategy greening and lighting, that has been amended because there was a much larger figure put into the capital programme originally, clearly until the town centre strategy is finalised and has been through full council and obviously through committee stages it is very difficult to say what we can afford so we didn’t believe it was appropriate to put it into the capital strategy…”
Fortunately, these funds are purely paper based with the description being:
“At this stage, the estimates in the draft capital programme are indicative. Funding from external sources, including CIL, Section 106, UK Shared Property Fund, will be sought wherever possible.”
That these are now removed from the capital expenditure plan does not stop them from being included later with the same external sources being sought to make them a reality. The amounts were purely indicative and yet to be allocated against any improvements or works their inclusion or removal has little bearing on the eventual aspirations of the Council for improving the town centre. Post budget these figures will be revised, and those amounts removed from 24/25 to 27/28 for public realm and greening expenditure can be reintroduced with a greater focus hand in hand with the town centre strategy once adopted.
Maidstone Liberal Democrats are committed to improvements to Maidstone, something underpinned by our alternative vision for the town centre. The changes are only on paper and will certainly be revised (no capital expenditure figures have been entered after the financial period 24/25, something that is unfeasible), we trust that the 27 second removal of £12 million from the budget will not be used to claim lack of funds when discussing ideas for the future of Maidstone.
Cllr. Clive English said: "Should the current administration wish to remove these placeholder funds until there is further clarity on where they might be spent that is well within their purview and I am happy with the amendment. The indicative figure of £12 millions should not be forgotten however and its removal should not be used as a technicality to make it appear there are no funding options available for improving the town centre."