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Apologies were received from Mrs Prendergast for whom Ms Hamilton was present.
Cabinet Member Updates
1) Ms Hamilton gave an update on behalf of Mrs Prendergast.
All staff and children were welcomed back to schools and early years settings. Schools were managing varying ranges of Covid-19 infection amongst staff, whilst also preparing for examinations at the end of the term. Thanks were given to all staff and governors for their hard work over the first two terms of the school year and best wishes were offered for the term ahead.
Families in Kent found out on Tuesday, 19 April, which primary schools their children had been offered to join in September. 9 out of 10 had been offered their first preference. It was appreciated that it was a disappointing and concerning time for those pupils and their families who did not secure their first preferences, but they were urged not to be discouraged as many pupils were to secure places through the waiting list and re-allocation process. Parents and guardians were advised that a specialist team at KCC were on hand to help make the most of the options available. Colleagues within the admissions team had already been working hard to address queries from parents.
In respect of arrivals from Ukraine, officers had continued to work to ensure families were supported and that children could access school places.
The UK government had committed that the first part of the UK Prosperity Fund was to be given to the Multiply Programme, with £599 million in funding available. Multiply had the potential to reach adults in the whole of the UK to improve their numeracy skills. This would also support the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ and KCC, via the Community Learning Service, was to be part of this work. It was to take place over the next 3 years delivering £7.5 million of innovative activities to ensure Kent’s population had the correct opportunities and skills to succeed in life.
2) Mr Brazier said work had been ongoing on SEND transport. All interested parties could now access a daily Situation Report (sitrep) to monitor the number of pupils on the transport scheme, new entries to the scheme in any month and the number of matters in contention. In excess of 1200 were unallocated on 11 February 2022, 98% of all applicants were now allocated. There were 4 complaints about quality of service which was within the scope of normal business. A great effort had been made by officers and Members but Mr Brazier was not satisfied that the system was working as well as it should or could. The internal investigation was to begin. There were an average of 100 entrants to SEND transport every month and this was causing concern about future capacity.
There was a consultation on 48 bus services currently supported by KCC and there had been more than 2000 responses. The consultation ended on 20 April and the results were to be analysed. The commercial operators were ‘handing back’ services that were no longer profitable and many residents believed KCC should adopt the services. The ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Rebecca Spore, Director of Infrastructure and Ben Watts, General Counsel were in attendance for this item.
1) Ms Spore outlined the presentation (attached).
2) In response to questions and comments, it was noted:
· Thanks were given to Ms Spore, her team and KCC’s partners for their work on supporting Ukrainian refugees in Kent
· The quality of information relating to potential sponsors was very important. There were concerns that local authorities should be able to respond to placement breakdowns on a local basis. This was particularly important for children placed in schools.
· The shared Home Office information indicated there had been 260 arrivals in Kent. This was notional and it was not known if they were in Kent so it was being established where they were. The numbers were due to increase significantly.
· ‘Heat maps’ were to be used to show where guests were in the county. This would be used to help establish where school places were needed, for example.
· Systems were being developed to both protect Ukrainian guests and sponsors. There were challenges around how contact was made with arrivals. Once the initial checks had been undertaken, continued support would be needed.
· It was recognised that this was an emergency situation, and the associated risks were acknowledged. Further guidance was needed from government and work was ongoing to seek clarifications as there were a range of statutory duties that continued to apply in relation to Ukrainian guests in Kent.
3) RESOLVED to note the update.
Toby Howe, Senior Highways Manager and Simon Jones, Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport were in attendance for this item.
1) Mr Jones introduced the item.
2) Mr Howe outlined the presentation (attached).
3) Further to questions and comments it was noted:
· It was acknowledged it was a fundamentally unsustainable situation. The government was alert to the issues around traffic disruption in Kent and commitments had been made. A countywide plan was needed which set out what was most important.
· Action was taken so that emergency gas works were done at pace in order that the traffic was able to flow on the affected routes over the Easter bank holiday.
· Some direct costs were funded from the Kent Resilience Forum and the department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). However, there were costs incurred by KCC in resources and there were secondary costs to KCC and Kent from traffic disruption. It was acknowledged that while the traffic controls at Brenley Corner had assisted with some impacts, it had negatively affected seasonal tourism and local roads.
· Communications messages were to be strengthened and Members had been receiving update from the Strategic Group. A more consistent, ‘one voice’ approach had been used to share information with the community.
· Connected lorry parks and holding areas were considered to be an aspirational longer-term solution as well utilising technology for frictionless borders and freight. Structured conversations were needed with government to establish and progress proposals. The application of any learning points from previous traffic disruption events and ameliorative measures were needed for disruption events in the shorter term.
4) RESOLVED to note the presentation.
Michael Thomas-Sam, Strategic Business Adviser and Paula Parker, Head of Business Delivery were in attendance for this item.
1) Mrs Bell introduced the report.
2) Mr Thomas-Sam outlined the report. The White Paper was an ambitious 10-year vision, some elements of which would be implemented before others. The ‘Fair Cost of Care’ exercise was to be completed by September 2022, with one part of this relying on a tool from government which was not available until the end of May 2022. This left KCC with less than 3 months to complete the exercise and go through the governance process.
The policy commitments in the White Paper related to giving people choice and control, improving standards and quality of care, support or unpaid carers and moving ahead health and social care integration, were welcomed.
3) Further to comments and questions, it was noted:
· Concerns had been raised that the Social Care Reform impact assessment had not adequately factored in the cost and impact on KCC and on providers. There was indicative funding for the next 2 years and clear and robust evidence was needed to shift the government’s position. It was important that the information from the CCM and LaingBuisson report was appreciated by government and that opportunities were seized to make the case for additional funding.
· It was proposed that the report be sent to MPs with a covering letter to ensure that MPs were made aware of the risks.
4) RESOLVED to note and endorse the recommendations as outlined in the report.