Published: 08:22, 09 January 2018 |
Updated: 08:30, 09 January 2018
Plans to cut dozens of bus services subsidised by the county council are in limbo after the politician in charge of roads and transport at Kent County Council lost his job.
Cabinet member Cllr Matthew Balfour has been moved out of the role and will be replaced by Cllr Mike Whiting, who was re-elected in last year’s election.
The switch comes just days before the county council was due to launch a public consultation on the proposals that are aimed at saving £4m over the next two years.
There has been speculation that Mr Balfour may have paid the price for the way in which the controversial plans to cut back on socially necessary bus routes emerged.
However, he has denied that, saying only that he was given no specific reason by KCC leader Paul Carter.
"It’s been a real privilege and a pleasure to work with the KCC officers responsible for our road network, planning and the environment and I wish them well for the future," he said.
Mr Balfour is councillor for Malling Rural East and took on the cabinet job three years ago.
The disclosure that there could be cuts to dozens of routes subsidised by the council to help save £4m provoked a furious backlash, with criticisms coming from schools, community groups and even from Kent MPs.
They wrote a stinging letter criticising the proposed changes to some 70 bus services saying KCC should re-think the plans.
The letter from ten MPs said: “These services are vital for elderly people, allowing them to get into towns to go shopping, visit relatives or attend doctor appointments. schoolchildren, disabled people and low earners also face being cut off.”
KCC leader Paul Carter had recently said that the release of the details about the proposals for bus cuts was premature and announced he was taking personal charge of the issue - something which led to speculation about Mr Balfour's future.
In a statement confirming the news, KCC leader Paul Carter said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Matthew for his hard work and dedication as Cabinet Member for the past three years.”
Cllr Mike Whiting said: “I am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to return to Cabinet and am looking forward to the challenge ahead. “
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
Your No1 guide to getting married in Kent. From dresses to discos and venues to veils, we've got everything you could possibly need for your big day
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating!
PLUS, register for free!.
Read our pick of the best holiday destinations. Whether its a weekend break, or something a little bit longer, we have reviewed a wide range of holidays.