County Councillor’s update – 19th July

At yesterday’s County Council meeting, the following two items were addressed, together with the decisions made.

1. ‘Facing the Challenge – Whole Council Transformation’. Having made savings of £269m in the 3 financial years up to and including this current one, as a consequence of the Coalition Government’s Spending Review, KCC is now having to ‘find’ further savings of £239m over the next two financial years of 2015/16 and 2017/18. These savings can only be achieved by a complete transformation of KCC’s services based upon the approaches of service transformation, service efficiencies, service reductions and, lastly, the possibility of raising the precept. The five priorities for the ‘whole-Council transformation’ will be the integration of services around client groups, a single-council approach to projects, programmes and review, the active engagement of the market for solutions, creating viable businesses from traded services and, finally, embedding commissioning authority arrangements. All good words, and if anyone wishes to explore these in more details, the full paper can be found on the KCC website. The outcome of the debate which followed was for a more detailed ‘Whole Council Transformation Plan’ to be presented at the next County Council meeting in September. What does all of this mean? Big changes to all services, and soon!

2. The Freedom Pass for school children. A petition was presented to KCC at the meeting by a representative of the local student body to raise the age for the allocation of the Freedom Pass. This proposal is in light of the Government’s policy of raising the age for children / young people to continue in education to 17, from this year, and to 18 in 2015. The outcome of the ensuing debate was for the issues raised in the petition to be considered within the context of a wider review currently being undertaken into the Council’s sponsorship of bus services through the Freedom Pass, with a report back to the Council at its meeting in October. Again, the papers dealing with this issues can be found on the KCC website.

Separately, yesterday evening I attended meeting called by Greg Clark MP for Tunbridge Wells, on the subject of ‘Aircraft Noise’. It was a good meeting, attended by about 50 people, including representatives of GATCAN and GACC.

The outcome of the meeting was agreement that County Councillor Matthew Balfour, KCC’s new GATCOM representative, working with Greg Clark, will now begin the process of co-ordinating all of the various and disparate groups into one focused ‘body’ of opposition to the proposal for a second runway at Gatwick, for a ban on night time flights as per LHR, for respite, for overall noise reduction, etc. etc. One of those present at the meeting agreed to act as secretary to Matthew, but I have not yet got her name as she offered her services, which Matthew accepted, after the meeting had broken up. As the Sevenoaks South County Councillor I will be working with Matthew Balfour on a ‘one-to-one’ basis on aviation matters.

Greg Clark undertook to continue the joint efforts with Sir John Stanley MP on aviation matters.

Tunbridge Wells BC, like Sevenoaks District Council, has applied to become a member of GATCOM, but their request has also been turned down.

Robin Hales, Chief Exec of Sevenoaks District Council, has agreed to have the subject of aviation matters placed on the Joint Transportation Board agenda, and to have the subject a topic on one of SDC’s newly-convened Scrutiny Boards.

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