Kent County Council is reviewing its community services to ensure they are run as efficiently, effectively and sustainably as possible.
Proposals include co-location of facilities, more flexible outreach activities, reducing the number of permanent buildings and making the most of existing and emerging digital technologies to consider the needs of residents in Kent against the need to reduce costs as one of the measures to balance the council’s budget and reduce the carbon footprint.
Any changes are subject to feedback from the public and a 10-week public consultation begins on Tuesday 17 January 2023. No decisions have been made and all options are at proposal stage only. Staff are also asked for their views on the new-look map of services, as well as partners who work alongside the council in delivering services.
The areas being considered as part of the proposal are community services for adults with learning difficulties, adult education, children’s centres and youth hubs, public health services for children and families and KCC Gateways.
The proposals are driven by layered data which understands the strengths and challenges of a particular area (split into 271 council wards). A framework has subsequently been produced that reflects how different parts of the county are affected by poverty, isolation and education levels amongst other factors including distance from public buildings, and how those diverse communities could best be supported going forward.
Delivering effective services to residents in a cost-efficient way is also key. The financial climate is such that it is important for KCC to explore all possible options. The proposals currently represent a saving of approximately £6m. The current backlog of maintenance costs on council buildings sits at £165m.
Leader of KCC Roger Gough said: “Residents value our community services and change is difficult. However, we do need to look to adapt and evolve to make the best use of the resources and funding we have available and safeguard against rising costs. This Community Service Model is an opportunity to use all of our knowledge and information to ensure services are where they most need to be, having the most positive impact and reaching people in the most effective way to complement and enhance how they are choosing to live in Kent.
“The scope is significant but it has to be. Changes would mean we would have a more manageable and affordable number of buildings across Kent, which would help us to continue providing services for people in a variety of ways.”
The consultation is arranged in a way that shows details about local facilities and any proposed changes.
New co-locations would follow the success of community ‘hubs’ where residents and communities already benefit from outreach services away from fixed locations, in places such as village halls, mobile vehicles or people’s homes and this can be replicated and expanded.
Cllr Gough added: “This year, we set out KCC’s four-year strategy, Framing Kent’s Future, which highlighted how we would tackle the challenges presented to us, such as the severe cost of living pressures, ever-increasing demand for services like health and social care, growing numbers of households and the impacts of climate change.
“We acknowledged that many of the assumptions that have underpinned our strategic approach over the last 10 years, such as low inflation, low interest rates and resilient supply chains, are now severely under threat and we are fully aware that the next four years will not be easy.
“At this consultation’s heart is our commitment to deliver excellent community services, with a focus on our most vulnerable people, providing ease of access to services in a variety of ways. The council is at its best when it can focus its skilled and dedicated staff on delivering services that will have the most impact on the lives of the people of Kent. Whilst protecting our ability to do just that, we also need to be able to reduce costs for the authority, ensuring our estate is manageable, sustainable, and supports our ambition to reduce our CO2 emissions.”
“We encourage you to look at our proposals in this consultation and strongly urge you to play a part by giving us your views.”
You can learn more about proposed changes in your area and have your say by visiting (from Tuesday 17 January):
by 26 March 2023.
You can also attend one of our drop-in events, which begin on 30 January in locations across the county, to find out more and ask any questions you may have.
The events schedule below will also be available on our website from 17 January.
For alternative formats of the consultation materials, email email@example.com or call 03000 42 15 53 (text relay service number 18001 03000 42 15 53). This number goes to an answering machine, which is monitored during office hours.
Schedule for drop-in events
- Wednesday 22 February 10am-1pm Ashford Gateway, Church Road, Ashford, TN12 1AS
- Tuesday 28 February 4-8pm The Willows Children’s Centre, Halstow Way, off Brookfield Road, Ashford, TN23 4EY.
- Monday 13 February 4-8pm Little Hands Children’s Centre, 16 Hollowmede, Canterbury, CT1 3SD
- Wednesday 15 February 10am-1pm Canterbury Library, The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, 18 High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2RA.
- Thursday 9 February 4-8pm Oakfield Children’s Centre, Oakfield Lane, Dartford, DA1 2SW
- Friday 17 February 10am-1pm Dartford Library, Market Street, Dartford, DA1 1EU.
- Friday 10 February 10am-1pm Deal Library, 5 Broad Street, Deal, CT14 6ER
- Tuesday 14 February 4-8pm Buckland Children’s Centre, St Nicholas Church, The Linces, Dover, CT16 2BN.
Folkestone and Hythe:
- Tuesday 21 February 4-8pm Folkestone Early Years Centre, Dover Road, Folkestone, CT20 1QF
- Friday 24 February 10am-1pm Wood Avenue Library, 17 Wood Avenue, Folkestone, CT19 6HS.
- Thursday 2 March 4-8pm Riverside Children’s Centre, Dickens Road, Gravesend, DA12 2JY
- Thursday 9 March 10am-1pm Gravesend Library, Windmill Street, Gravesend, DA12 1BE.
- Friday 3 March 10am-1pm Sessions House, County Hall, County Road, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ
- Friday 10 March 4pm-8pm Sessions House, County Hall, County Road, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ.
- Tuesday 7 March 10am-1pm Sevenoaks Library, Buckhurst Lane, Sevenoaks, TN13 1LQ
- Wednesday 8 March 4pm-8pm Swanley Youth and Community Centre, St Mary’s Road, Swanley, BR8 7BU.
- Thursday 23 February 4pm-8pm Milton Court Children’s Centre, Brewery Road, Milton Regis, Sittingbourne, ME10 2EE
- Monday 27 February 10am-1pm Sheppey Gateway at Sheerness Library, 38-42 High Street, Sheerness, ME12 1NL.
- Monday 30 January 10am-1pm Margate Library, Thanet Gateway Plus, Cecil Street, Margate, CT9 1RE
- Monday 20 February 4-8pm Six Bells Family Centre, 201 High Street, Margate, CT9 1WH.
Tonbridge and Malling:
- Friday 3 February 4-8pm Tonbridge Youth and Children’s Centre, 2 Danvers Road, Tonbridge, TN9 1TR
- Wednesday 8 February 10am-1pm Larkfield Library, Martin Square, Aylesford, ME20 6QW.
- Thursday 2 February 4-8pm Little Forest Children’s Centre, Friars Way, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 3UA
- Tuesday 7 February 10am-1pm Southborough Hub, Southborough Civic Centre, 137 London Road, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 0ND.