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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Council services face the chop
Shepway District Council offices
Shepway council has been cutting services to lower tax rises
Several public toilets in Shepway could be closed as the council strives to cut services to keep council tax down.

It has already put an end to grass verge cutting, which was costing council taxpayers 50,000 a year.

The service cuts are to meet government demands that council tax rises for the coming year remain in single figures.

Shepway, which had planned for a rise of 28.9%, is waiting to see if local government minister Nick Raynsford will cap increases on Thursday.

Earlier this month the Conservative leader and MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Michael Howard, presented a 10,000-signature petition to Shepway councillors in a fight to keep the public toilets open.

And a local businessman even offered to buy the toilets to prevent them being closed.

Earlier plans were to close 26 toilets across towns including Folkestone, Hythe, New Romney and Dymchurch.


The council has now agreed to keep one toilet open permanently in the new Coastal Park.

Eight others, in seaside locations, are to stay open until the end of the summer.

Although Kent County Council pays for two grass cuts a year, Shepway has topped that up with additional cutting of up to 18 trims a year.

But this has cost Shepway council tax payers an estimated 50,000 a year - a subsidy it decided to permanently trim to contribute to a lower tax rise.

In March Shepway council reset its budget after the government told it to cut its original council tax increase.

A rise of 28.9% was agreed for the coming year - 10% below the figure put forward by councillors in February.




SEE ALSO:
Capped councils to be named
29 Apr 04  |  Politics


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