Agenda item

Kent County Council Community Services Consultation

To consider the proposals set out in the Kent County Council Community Services Consultation.


Officers from Kent County Council will be in attendance remotely at the meeting to answer questions from Members.


Councillor C D Zosseder welcomed the virtual attendance of Rebecca Spore (Director of infrastructure, KCC), Ben Sherreard (Programme Manager, KCC) and Hema Birdi (Assistant Director, Adolescents and Open Access (Eastern Division), KCC) to speak to the matter of the KCC Community Services Consultation.


A presentation was provided to Members that outlined the reasons why the consultation had been undertaken and what the proposals were for community services in the Dover District. Members were directed to the document in their agenda that summarised these proposals.


The drivers for change were the need to:


·         reduce the high costs associated with maintaining a large number of buildings

·         find savings to balance the budget

·         meet the commitments made in the KCC Net Zero action plan by 2030

·         provide effective support to residents in need of the services


 The proposals would deliver the following benefits:


·         Revenue savings between £5.6 – 6.9 million

·         Reduction of maintenance liabilities of at least £7.3 million

·         Capital receipts of up to £7.5 million

·         22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions


The proposals would affect the delivery of services as followed:


Sites proposed to deliver services from

Sites it was proposed to leave

Dover Discovery Centre (community hub)

Sunflower Children’s Centre

Buckland Children’s Centre (family hub)

Blossom Children’s Centre

Deal Youth Hub (family hub)

Dover Gateway (service relocation)

Samphire Children’s Centre (family hub

Walmer Centre (service relocation)

Deal Adult Education Centre (community, learning and skills)



In the case of the Dover Gateway and the Walmer Centre the service would be relocated to Dover Discovery Centre.


The intention was where possible to deliver multiple services from buildings to enhance how services worked together and serve the community more holistically.


The proposals would also see the continued use of outreach services which were the most effective way of reaching some of the most vulnerable residents and an expanded digital offer which was more convenient for many residents and gave them better access to services.


As part of the consultation there had been drop-in sessions in February 2023 held in Deal and Dover. The consultation ran until 26 March 2023 and it was expected that the KCC Cabinet would make a decision in July 2023 for implementation if approved in early 2024.


Members raised the following points in response to the presentation:


·         To express concern over the lack of detail in respect of future service delivery.

·         That recent improvements such as the sensory room in Blossoms risked being lost by relocating the service to a new facility.

·         Whether all the buildings could be disposed of for the projected capital receipts.

·         Whether the cost of breaking leases on some of the buildings had been considered.

·         The compatibility of co-locating some services, such as early years and teens at Linwood.

·         To welcome the principle of outreach service expansion but to express concern over the lack of detail in respect of the services and what the cost of delivering outreach services would be.

·         To express concerns over access to the new hubs by public transport or on foot. There was discussion over how the 30-minute travel time to the sites had been calculated and what the cost of using public transport would be to service users. References were made to the impact of cuts to rural bus services.  

·         To express concern that while services were being centralised, the towns were growing in a de-centralised way.

·         The need for outreach services to be delivered safely.

·         The importance of partnerships in service delivery.


The Programme Manager (KCC) advised that they had not tried to pre-judge the outcome of the consultation and that further detail would emerge in due course. However, if the principle of ‘need’ driving service delivery was accepted then it should be accepted that service delivery would need to change over time in response to changing needs.


As part of the consultation, engagement had been undertaken with key stakeholders as well as the public. In respect of consultation responses, a statement explaining why a service should continue to be delivered in a particular way would have more impact in shaping the final proposals.


Councillor C D Zosseder thanked the officers from Kent County Council for attending and extended an invitation, which was accepted, for them to return to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee once more concrete proposals on service delivery were known.

Supporting documents: