Kent County Council building on a sunny day

Kent County Council under Tory control

A loss of direction and purpose, a decline in public service standards and more inequality

Four years have passed since the last Kent County Council elections in 2013. During this period the Conservative Administration has steadily lost a sense of direction and purpose. The County Council is searching for a role in local government in the face of severe pressure from the Conservative Government.

Uncertainty due to

  • The disproportionate reductions in funding from the Government
  • Conflicting messages about devolution and the part that local Government should play
  • Pressure for housing growth without infrastructure investment
  • Government policies that weaken local government’s capacity to provide an appropriate public service

Kent County Council under the Conservatives is uncertain whether its role is strategic or operational. The administration’s response has been to try to manage its major financial challenges by transforming the delivery of services, with more and more responsibilities commissioned out to third parties, both commercial and voluntary.

Labour is opposed to transformation

  • The claim that commissioned services can both make savings and provide improved care is not sustainable
  • A culture is developing that provides basement services for those most in need and which requires vulnerable to provide for themselves or do without
  • Labour believes that commissioning out of services at considerably lower cost can only lead to the recruitment of less professional staff and more carers working under stressful working conditions
  • Commissioning also leads to poorer monitoring of services and a reduced role for democratically elected members in holding service delivery to account

Over the last 4 years, Kent has seen an increase in inequality

  • Economic growth has only come to some people and some districts
  • The outcomes of education have increased inequality
  • Inequalities in healthcare are underlined by serious differences in life expectancy, between districts and within districts

In the day to day running of services there have been too many failures under the Conservatives

  • Road maintenance lags behind the needs of the Kent community
  • The switch of streetlights was handled incompetently and inevitably led to an embarrassing climb-down
  • The conversion of schools into Academies has led to catastrophe in some places
    Health has suffered embarrassing setbacks as services have been commissioned to ill prepared private providers
  • Public transport services fail to meet the needs of individuals and communities, with bus services failing elderly and young people and rural communities
  • We have a declining youth service and
  • Under resourced library services
  • There has been inadequate support for those people affected by flooding in recent times
  • The Tory administration is failing to balance its budget due to over optimistic assumptions about the efficiency of transformation plans

The has not only been confusion on the Conservative side. The 2013 KCC elections make United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) the main opposition party. They have given the Conservatives an easy time and subjected them to too little scrutiny.

  • Too often UKIP support Conservative measures
  • They have made a great virtue out of having no “whip” but far too often this leads to UKIP voting in contradictory ways on key questions, sometimes even voting against their own motions
  • They have been far too passive when it comes to scrutinising the administration, asking few search questions Council meetings
  • They have no policy perspective because they were elected for reasons that have nothing to do with Kent County Council

Labour County Councillors elected in 2017 will have six strategic aims to Fight for fair funding so that services don’t continue to be cut or privatised Scrutinise services in the fight against inequality Demand infrastructure investment for housing and transport Scrutinise services for greater efficiency Give the Kent Community more control over its economy and public services Work with local communities and co-operatives to develop more localised answers to the needs of Kent people

Vote Angela George for Swanley candidate in the Kent County Council Elections

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