Plans to support greener transport, digital connectivity, job opportunities and sustainable infrastructure are among a raft of actions set out in Kent County Council’s (KCC) new vision for the future.
Focused on Levelling Up, Infrastructure, Environment and Care and Support, the new four-year Strategic Statement ‘Framing Kent’s Future’ also includes ambitions to improve the lives of residents through a range of education, health and wellbeing, and planning policies and approaches.
These range from urging government to re-balance housing targets away from the South East to exploring increasing KCC involvement in academies through sponsoring a Multi Academy Trust, plus expanding CrowdFund Kent to boost local community projects.
Approved by full County Council today, the strategy which can be read here Framing Kent’s Future – Our Council Strategy – Kent County Council also underlines the importance of partnerships and the need to work collaboratively to design better and more resilient services, including with health, and with charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations – as highlighted by the recent ground-breaking KCC-commissioned Full Cost Recovery Report
Speaking at May’s Cabinet meeting, and writing in the Forward of the strategy document, Council Leader Roger Gough described the plan’s priorities as representing areas where KCC ‘can make a significant difference’.
But he also warned ‘responding to the challenges and opportunities the county faces over the next four years will not be easy’ given the authority’s financial position is unlikely to improve as central government budgets continue to be stretched.
KCC Leader Roger Gough said: “The fragile global economy, rising international tensions, legacy of the pandemic and increasingly ageing population is driving more complex and more costly social care demand.
“New housing growth places pressure on Kent’s physical and social infrastructure, impacting on quality of life for existing residents. Our environment faces challenges not just from climate change but, in some communities, from over-development.
“Our residents and businesses need support to develop a workforce with the skills to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing global and local economy. And recent events have thrown into sharp relief how Kent’s status as the gateway to Europe can result in severe pressures on our roads, our businesses, and our residents.
“Although many of these challenges are profound, they can be overcome through strong partnerships, redesigning and commissioning our services differently, investing in new technology that allows us to transform the efficiency and productivity of the Council.
“We can re-shape our estate to reflect how residents want to access our services and how our staff work flexibly; and we can engage with government to seek the devolution of the powers and resources to support Kent succeed.
“Each of these priorities presents an area where the Council makes a significant difference to the quality of life of Kent residents both now and in the future.
“But it would be wrong to imply that the next four years will be easy; they will not. The financial position of the Council is unlikely to improve, as government funding is stretched ever further by competing priorities.
“Change will be a pre-requisite if KCC is going to deliver successfully for Kent and place itself on a sustainable footing for the medium and long-term and be at its best – focusing its skilled and dedicated staff on delivering services that they know will make a difference to the lives of the people of Kent.”