Regrettably, the Tory councillor’s that run Stone’s Parish Council voted to cut their budget for youth services in half last week – to just £10,000 – while also approving a 9% increase in the parish precept. Proof, it seems, that under the Tories people in Stone pay more tax and get less for it.
The move was strongly opposed by Labour’s parish councillors in Stone, who argued that the provision of decent youth services was far too important to suffer such deep cuts. Despite a fall in parish funding from the borough council, the parish’s statutory income is actually set to rise next year – reflecting the precept hike and government grant support – yet the cash looks set to be swallowed by staff costs. Despite questioning that, and suggesting various measures to trim lower priority spending elsewhere in the council’s budget, the Tories wouldn’t yield an inch for the sake of Stone’s youth – they voted the plan through unchanged.
“Stone Parish Council is still in the process of commissioning its youth services but, clearly, they’ll be able to deliver a far more comprehensive service with a £20,000 budget than with half that,” said Hayley Reece, Dartford Labour Party’s youth officer, and former councillor candidate for Castle ward. “Cutting that youth budget in half can only mean poorer provision and Stone’s young people deserve better – the Tories are letting young people down.”