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Three priorities for the new Leader of Kent County Council

October 20, 2019 1:29 PM

Last week Paul Carter stood down as Leader of Kent County Council, having been in post for 14 years. The Council elected Roger Gough as his successor. Roger Gough was previously the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education. Rob at CH

Rob Bird, the Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition at KCC, paid tribute to Paul Carter and proposed three priorities for the incoming Leader.

Firstly, the Council needs to become much more pro-active in relation to tackling climate change, protecting the environment and encouraging biodiversity.

All too often, government bodies, other organisations and individuals say the right words but don't deliver the right responses. KCC has taken some important and valuable steps, but needs to do much, much more. The issues are far too critical and far too urgent.

Climate change, the environment and biodiversity should be fundamental to every policy and action the Council pursues. KCC needs to set the highest standards and provide leadership throughout the county.

Secondly, KCC needs to tackle the chronic inequalities across county and, in particular, the damaging effects on Kent's coastal communities.

Much has been tried in the past, but problems persist in many areas of Kent. Educational attainment is markedly inferior and job prospects are weaker. The frustrations and the debilitating effects are clear to see.

We need to ensure that these are good places to live where young people are given the opportunities to develop aspirations and then to fulfil them. There is a long way to go.

Lastly, the County Council needs to give the carers the support they need and deserve. In Kent over 150,000 volunteers care for family, friends and neighbours.

Volunteers are crucial to our society. Who knows what the Government will propose for social care reform, or when? But what is clear is that society will continue to be critically dependant on the hundreds of thousands of people who voluntarily care for others, either because they want to or they need to.

Whether they are elderly or of working age juggling a job with their caring responsibilities or young persons trying to complete their education, these carers are vital. They get support from the County Council; but many are struggling to cope. Many carers have financial difficulties. Many are stressed and suffering from depression. Three in five Kent carers have said that their physical health has worsened and 70% have suffered from mental health problems. Many have had no respite break in the past year and one in four have had no break for over five years.

Our society needs the support of everyone who gives their time to care for others, and they need all the support KCC can give them.