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Have your say on budget cuts at Kent County Council

Kent County Council needs to make cuts of more than a hundred million pounds so it's asking residents which services they want to keep.

It's part of an ongoing consultation to make savings next year.

Residents have just over a week to have their say on the plans.

Kent County Council needs to save more than £100m Credit: ITV Meridian

"So far we have identified further savings of £75 million for the next financial year and that is on top of savings of more than half a billion pounds over the last six years.

"It is really important to us that as many people as possible take part in our budget consultation and let us know what their priorities are when it comes to how we spend our limited finances.

"The government has placed an enormous challenge on us by imposing some of the biggest cuts compared to other parts of the public sector.

"We have done a lot of forward planning and facing the challenge early on we believe we are in a better position than most - but we would like to hear from you on whether you agree with our priorities.

"The decisions we make will affect everyone in Kent. That's why we want to engage with as many residents as possible."

– Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement John Simmonds

Pay & display row near the Royal Berkshire Hospital

The Royal Berkshire Hospital car park at full capacity

Finding parking at any hospital can be difficult at times. Staff and patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading often find themselves parking on surrounding streets when the car park is full. However, that has caused frustration for some people who live nearby.

Now it is feared that new restrictions on roads near the hospital are going to lead to more stress for staff and patients.

Reading Borough Council has approved plans to introduce pay and display charges on Addington Road and Erleigh Road despite strong opposition - including a petition with more than eight thousand signatures.

The council says the scheme is designed to make parking easier for neighbouring residents, but campaigners say it is morally wrong.

The interviewees in Mel Bloor's report are Rob Wilson, MP for Reading West, Conservative; and Clare Goulbourn-Lay, the midwife who started the petition.

In response to the suggestion that the hospital move to somewhere with more space for staff and patients to park, a Royal Berkshire Hospital spokesperson said that relocating the Hospital is not a new idea, and has been discussed on a number of occasions.

They added: "A new build could cost in excess of £200 million pounds. Any decision to relocate the hospital is not one the Trust would be able to make alone, and would need in depth discussion with the wider health care economy serving the area, along with NHS England and other partners.".


Triplets Mum named 'top fundraiser'

Essie Cobbett

A mother of triplets who had to fight for extra support for her disabled baby daughter has been named 'top fundraiser' by a children's hospice.

Lorna Cobbett and her husband Steve, both from Horsham, joined the annual 10k run for Chestnut Tree House to say thank you for the support its given nine-month-old Essie.

Together the pair raised more than £1,600 and are now planning on taking part in the marathon every year as part of their daughter's legacy.

Lorna said: "Essie has stayed at the hospice quite a lot, where she's known as Princess Essie, and we also have a lot of support from them as a family.

"They come out and do babysitting for us, we get counselling from the chaplain, who is amazing, and they're really good at letting us use their hydrotherapy pool - we can't say thank you enough."

Benefit cuts lead to a rise in people needing foodbanks

Credit: ITV

The Wiltshire-based foodbank charity the Trussell Trust is calling for an easing of sanctions on people who claim jobseekers' allowance.

That's after researchers at Oxford University analysed four years of data and found a link between people having their benefit payments stopped and an increase in referrals to foodbanks.

In response, the Trussell Trust are asking for changes to the current 'yellow card' warning system with a non-financial penalty.

Hundreds of families not claiming free childcare

Some of the poorest and most vulnerable families in the South are missing out on free childcare.

Parents on low incomes and claiming benefits are entitled to 15 hours free childcare a week for their two-year-olds. Children who are disabled or have special educational needs also qualify.

Kerry Swain reports from Southampton, where hundreds of families are not taking advantage of the scheme.

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