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Labour condemns town centre shambles

The Dartford Labour Party has today condemned the Tory-run borough council for its shambolic approach to the vital regeneration of Dartford’s town centre after a record emerged of inaction and doubtful spending priorities.

Despite being granted £79,500 in so called ‘Portas’ money last May to support the regeneration of the town, it has come to light that the council has so far spent little more than a fifth of it – yet the need to act quickly to stem the town’s decline has never been greater. Moreover, it seems that the council has spent funds on projects that are highly unlikely to make any tangible difference to the town – such as £1,610 on hiring a man in a Peppa Pig suit, or well over £300 on shopping in Waitrose.

Such inaction and dubious spending decisions appears not to have impressed Mary Portas – she had been due to take part in an event at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre late last week but pulled out at short notice. With businesses, such as Mothercare, having left the town or others, like Clintons and Peacocks, having simply gone bust as the recessionary conditions continue, Labour has called on Council Leader Jeremy Kite to get a grip on this issue and to take urgent action to stop Dartford from becoming a ghost town.

Speaking after the revelations emerged, shadow leader of the Council Geoff Prout said: “Dartford’s town centre is facing a crisis and it beggars belief that Cllr. Kite thinks blowing the Portas money on a man in a Peppa Pig suit, or shopping in Waitrose, is going to solve the town’s problems. It’s shambolic, wasteful and has made Dartford a laughing stock.”

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