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Day of reckoning for Kent County Council

Frontline services could face 'unpalatable' cuts next year, the leader of Kent County Council has warned.

The local authority says it needs to find more than £75m to balance its budget.

A six week consultation is being launched today.

A six week consultation on budget plans is launched today Credit: ITV Meridian

"KCC has done extraordinarily well in making public money go a lot further and our budget has decreased substantially over the last four years while the pressure for services has risen dramatically.

"The population is growing, there are more elderly people who need help and support and more young people with high educational needs than ever before.

"There are unprecedented pressures on our budget and yet we are spending less money."

– Paul Carter, Leader of KCC

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


Number of child asylum seekers in Kent doubles over two years

The number of children seeking asylum in Kent has more than doubled in two years, it has been revealed.

There are now 395 children who have been placed in foster care, compared to 190 children two years ago. The council says it has a two million pound shortfall from the Government to pay for the care.

Cllr Peter Oakfield, from Kent County Council, speaks to ITV News Meridian in the video below.

Former soldiers asked how 'civvy street' measures up

Readjusting to civilian life can be challenging for former military personnel

A new survey has been launched to find out how well former soldiers have adapted to civilian life.

The Kent and Medway Civilian Partnership board wants to hear from the one hundred and twenty nine thousand or so former servicemen and servicewomen who live across the county of Kent. The organisation is made up of representatives from local government in Kent and Medway, the armed forces, and service charities.

The questions asked include issues such as - how well the veterans are adapting to 'civvy street', how they contribute to the local community, and whether they feel well supported within their local communities.

The form is available to complete online from Friday 5th June, and the closing date for filling in the survey is 31st July 2015. The overall findings and results of the research will be published in early 2016.

"In Kent we have over 2,600 serving personnel and 412 reservists who we know we can reach with this survey.

"But we are keen on tracking down ex-service personnel who we have no way of knowing where they are and how their lives have changed.

"The survey will remain anonymous though we do ask for a postcode to help us map needs and opportunities.

"By taking part in this survey, it will help us shape where and how resources can be focused for people associated with the armed forces.

"We want to make sure the Kent and Medway Civilian Military Partnership Board have as much information as possible to inform their decision making."

– Jayne Collier-Smith, Kent County Council Project Manager

Appeal for adoptive families for children in need in Kent

Appeal for adoptive families Credit: ITV news

Anyone who has thought about adoption in Kent can now come to an open day to find out about children who need families of their own.

The information event on 19 July is part of a new adoption campaign which is focussing on 35 children in particular who urgently need to find homes. The Council is particularly keen to hear from people who could consider adopting brothers and sisters, children aged between 4 and 8 years old or those children needing extra support.

At the event, there will be a chance to talk to adopters about their own experiences, the process, and how they found their own children.

The event is taking place between 10:30 to 2pm, Saturday 19 July, Hilton Maidstone, Bearsted Road, ME14 5AA.


Could East Kent become the next 'silicon city'?

East Kent may have been taking a battering from the weather, but it could have a bright future in the high-tech industry. Business leaders have been meeting in London to discuss the potential.

They say the area has a skilled workforce, low start-up costs and good transport links - so could it become the next "silicon city"? Andy Dickenson reports.

Council to save £7m by limiting free student bus passes

Kent Freedom Pass Credit: Kent County Council

Kent County Council has said that it will save around £7m by capping free bus travel for thousands of students.

The move, which will cost many families hundreds of pounds, will limit the journeys taken by 11 to 16 year olds to £350 worth of travel. For older students, passes will be capped at £250.

The Kent Freedom Pass was launched in 2006 and costs the council around £13.5m every year.

Opposition councillors have said that some students with long journeys to school and college will be penalised by the changes.

Mixed reception for SureStart changes

Campaigners admit their fight to keep children's centres open across Kent has had only limited success. The county council say cuts in Government grants mean it's not possible to keep all 97 centres running. 12 centres stretching from Westerham to Deal will shut for good.

Nineteen centres WILL stay open but with reduced opening times. The Conservatives at KCC say they had no alternative. Labour politicians have denounced the decision as shameful. Ruje Yasmin reports, talking to campaigner Hannah Arnold, Labour candidate Tristan Osborne, and Whitstable mums.

12 children's centres in Kent are to close

Larkfield Children's Centre is closing Credit: ITV News Meridian

12 children's centres in Kent are to shut: the county council blames cuts in government funding. However 11 of 23 centres which were threatened with closure will remain open. It comes after the County Council consulted with thousands of parents.

One of the children's centres that is to close Credit: ITV News Meridian

The authority says it's come up with new ways of running them to save money and bring in some income. The centres offer help and advice to parents.

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