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Kent rebels attack coalition cuts

Alex Perkins
Alex Perkins

by political editor Paul Francis

Three Liberal Democrat councillors are among 88 who have openly attacked the coalition cuts saying they will harm the most vulnerable.

The 88 have signed an open letter, published by the Times, that takes the coalition to task over spending cuts to local councils.

The signatories include three group leaders from Kent. They are Alex Perkins of Canterbury City Council; David Neve of Tunbridge Wells and Roger Walshe of Sevenoaks.

It comes as councils across Kent are preparing to embark on a major spending squeeze in the face of cuts in government grants that equate to a 25 per cent reduction over the next four years.

Kent County Council will meet next week to vote on a budget that will see £95m of savings.

The letter says spending reductions are too big and are being implemented too fast.

In it, the council chiefs write: "Local government is playing its part in tackling the country’s deficit and advancing the coalition’s aims of localism and the Big Society.

"But local and central government are being let down by the Communities and Local Government Secretary who appears unwilling to lead the change that’s so desperately needed."

It goes on: "Rather than assist the country’s recovery by making public sector savings in a way that can protect local economies and the frontline, the cuts are so structured that they will do the opposite.

"The local government settlement will take a major hit in this coming financial year and further, smaller, cuts in subsequent years."

The letter is being seen as a blow to the unity of the coalition but has been dismissed by ministers.

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