Annual Report from local Kent County Councillor Shellina Prendergast.

Hollingbourne Parish Council has been asked to distribute the following Annual Report from our local County Councillor, Mrs Shellina Prendergast (Conservative). Owing to limitations with the KCC website platform used by Hollingbourne Parish Council it is not possible to show the report with pictures in the software format as received. The full report can be downloaded at  Annual-Report-Prendergast-2017-18.docx (41 downloads)

KENT COUNTY COUNCIL

SHELLINA PRENDERGAST – MEMBER FOR MAIDSTONE RURAL EAST
DEPUTY CABINET MEMBER FOR CHILDREN, YOUNG PEOPLE AND EDUCATION
ANNUAL REPORT 2017/2018

Dear Resident,
It is a great honour and privilege to represent you at Kent County Council.
Kent is a great county and my Maidstone Rural East Division is one of the very best parts of Kent for its natural beauty, heritage and of course the people. Last year you elected me to Kent County Council with the largest vote, biggest majority and the highest share of vote among the KCC candidates standing in the Maidstone district. Thank you for your support.
As many of you will be aware, in recent years (and for the foreseeable future) Kent County Council has faced an enormous and unprecedented financial challenge. This challenge arises from a combination of rising spending demands, reductions in central government funding and freezes/limits on raising council tax. Combined, this has led the Council to make annual savings of between £80 to £90 million per annum since 2010.
Despite such punitive financial constraints, and the ever-increasing pressures of an ageing and growing population, Kent County Council has continued to meet its statutory duties in maintaining its complex array of front line services such as adult social care, highways improvements/maintenance and the education of our children and young people. And whilst supporting the continued delivery of a balanced budget!
The last few months however have seen some very positive outcomes for the Council and Kent residents – Kent has been chosen by the government as one of the few counties benefitting from a 100% Business Rate Retention Pilot (worth £10million to Kent) and government funding also included a Social Care Grant of £3.65million to help in our ambition for older and vulnerable residents to be safe and supported with choices to live independently and £3.1million for pothole repairs.
During my time at Kent County Council, I have worked with residents and 17 parish councils/meetings to address the pledges I made to you when elected, and these include:

Transport and Highways
• Speeding motorists and inconsiderate parking are a problem for us all and can lead to life threatening injuries. As your Councillor, I have worked with Kent Highways, Cabinet Members and the Police to seek solutions to this type of problem.
• Highways Improvements – I was delighted to play a part in securing just under £1million of developer funding to implement the improvements to the much needed A20 Harrietsham Road Improvement Scheme. A revised design was consulted on earlier this year with some very positive feedback and the scheme has an anticipated commencement date of September 2018. I am currently working with several parishes on further highways improvements in this area – the A20/Faversham Road being an example – and am liaising with Officers to secure the appropriate schemes and the all-important funding sources.
• Potholes, overgrown vegetation, drain and road repairs are the responsibility of Kent County Council – KCC have a war chest of £7.5million to address this problem, and I have urged the Cabinet Member for Highways to ensure that the roads in this Division are prioritised for long overdue repairs, particularly in the rural areas. Please report any potholes or highways issues on https://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem or ring 03000 418181 during office hours or 03000 419191 for emergencies.
• Public Transport – working alongside bus operators and KCC Officers, I have continued to push for high quality reliable bus services to ensure that our children get to school on time and our older residents are not left isolated in rural villages. Train links to London are a vital amenity for our residents and commuters, and I continue my work with our MP and South Eastern trains to improve services.

Planning and Infrastructure
• I have a proven record in fighting against inappropriate development within our rural areas and am not afraid to challenge decision makers. Housing development without supporting infrastructure such as schools, medical facilities, transport links and community facilities remain my priorities and I have worked hard with those parish councils currently in the process of preparing Neighbourhood Plans to ensure that developments are sustainable for both current and future residents.

Communications

• Improving access to broadband and better mobile services for our rural areas is dear to my heart. At a time of great financial pressure, KCC has invested £16m to match fund the Government’s funding to extend broadband to rural Kent. 94.6% of Kent households now have access to superfast broadband. KCC is now working on a subsidy scheme to help the remaining households connect. More detail can be found on https://www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/broadband
• I have worked with our MP, Helen Whately, in getting the mobile phone companies and broadband providers to look at solutions for the “not spots” in this area and a survey covering all households in Headcorn was launched a few weeks ago. Helen and I await the results of this survey and will take the necessary actions.

Education
• Many of you will have heard me saying that our children and young people are our future and they deserve the very best start in life by attending good local schools. The unprecedented increase in the population of Maidstone Rural East has led to some significant pressures, particularly on primary school provision, and I have worked hard with Cabinet Colleagues, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, Maidstone Borough Council and our MP to ensure that every child is able to attend a school within proximity of their local area.

At Kent County Council, I am a Deputy Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education – the largest portfolio within Kent County Council – which includes responsibility for commissioning school places, Special Educational Needs Assessment and Placement, Youth and Youth Justice, Children in Care Services, Adolescent Support, the Fostering and Adoption Service and many other services. The welfare of our children and young people is the Council’s top priority, and I am proud to be part of a team which last year gained a “good” judgment from Ofsted for our Children’s Specialist Services and where 92% of the schools attended by our children are rated by Ofsted to be “good” or “outstanding”. A memorable highlight for me was giving the opening speech at this year’s Kent Adoption Conference – it was truly humbling to see nearly 200 professionals and adopters in the room with only one clear ambition: to make a family for some of our most vulnerable children here in Kent.

As well as Cabinet meetings, I sit on the Children, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee, the Corporate Parenting Panel – like all elected Members, I am very proud to be a corporate parent to Kent’s looked after children and care leavers. Appointments to outside bodies include the Red Hill Trust – a registered charity offering support to children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.
I attend as many of the local parish council meetings in my Division as I can – often two in one evening – as well as the annual parish meetings. My most important role is to help and support residents with individual problems – my case work is varied – and I am easily contactable by telephone or email.
I am also pleased to help many local projects through my KCC Member Grant – and so far this year I have committed/pledged to the following organisations: Maidstone Mela, Headcorn Scouts, Harrietsham Summer Fun Club, Broomfield and Kingswood Traffic Regulation Order for reduction of speed near school, Stockbury signage, Maidstone Pastors, Kent Search and Rescue, Slideway Youth Bereavement Support, Ulcombe Play Area, Detling Cricket Club, Harrietsham Parish Council office lift, Maidstone Dawn Patrol, Kent Autistic Trust, Five Acre Wood School, Harrietsham History Society Memorial Garden, Ulcombe Church, Citizens Advice Bureau and the Kent Foster Care Association.
I already have a queue of worthy projects lined up for 2018/19 but do please let me know if you have a local project which I can support.
Thank you again and my very best wishes to you all.
Shellina Prendergast
Shellina.Prendergast@kent.gov.uk
Tel: 07970 461160
Twitter: @PrendSVP

Pictured below is Councillor Prendergast.

Maidstone Rural East County Councillor Shellina Prendergast.