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Medway Council’s annual budget meeting descended into farce on Thursday with over one quarter of councillors refusing to vote.

The Finance Portfolio Holder, Cllr Alan Jarrett had presented last-minute amendments to the budget which included incorrect figures that had to be corrected during the meeting.

Despite assurances from both the Chief Executive Neil Davies and the Monitoring Officer Perry Holmes that the verbal corrections were acceptable, the Labour Group claimed that the budget was illegal and refused to vote.

But the embarrassment for the Conservative administration didn’t end when the meeting closed.

Those following my live tweets from the meeting will have seen that, from the public gallery, I picked up an error over the car parking charges in Medway:

In the 2012/2013 budget, parking charges across Medway were increased for the first time in years:

Fast-forward to Thursday night, and the proposed prices for 2013/2014 reflected the pre-2012 prices as both the existing and proposed prices:

When the Council (or, more correctly, the Conservative councillors) approved the budget, they bound the council to every measure and proposal contained within it – including the pre-2012 parking prices.

In a panic, the Cabinet had to use the Special Urgency Decisions provision contained within the Constitution to increase the parking prices back to current levels before they are required to introduce the prices approved in the budget in April.

This means that, once again, there is no happy ending for Medway’s motorists and visitors.

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