PRESS RELEASE – KENT LABOUR

Release: For Immediate Release – 12 August 2021

GCSE AND BTEC RESULTS DAY 2021 – MESSAGE FROM KENT LABOUR

To all pupils in Kent who are receiving GCSE and BTEC results today, everyone at Kent Labour would like to offer our congratulations on behalf of the Kent Labour Councillors – you should be incredibly proud. The pandemic has impacted you enormously, challenging you academically and mentally. As the country takes steps to normalcy, we look ahead to more settled conditions, but we understand that the completion of your courses under these conditions are an achievement in themselves.

If the results are not what you are expecting, please do not worry, there is help and assistance through your school’s support system. Seek advice and have comfort in the knowledge that there is a support network which will assist you in getting back on track.

County Councillor Alister Brady – Labour Shadow Cabinet Member for Education and ICS says, “To all students who are collecting your results today, you should be incredibly proud of the way you have conducted yourself this year. The conditions have been incredibly challenging, completing your course is an achievement so I offer my heartfelt congratulations! Kent Labour hope the results are what you hope for, if they are not then please remember there is support out there for you. Talking about your aspirations will be key to attaining your goals. Speak to your school to gain advice on how your ambitions can be attained.

I would like to add a massive thank you to all school leaders, teachers, and support staff who have worked tirelessly through these difficult times. Whether through supporting remote learning or face to face teaching throughout the pandemic and making the school reopening a success – you are the key to our students’ successes. To all parents, carers, and families, your continued support and communication is incredibly valuable, we recognise your valuable efforts.”

County Councillor Dr Lauren Sullivan – Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Group says, “Kent Labour congratulate you as you finish this stage of your educational journey. The pandemic has negatively impacted education in the past year and a half, you all should be incredibly proud of your achievements. Results day is an emotional time, rest assured that support is there to help you on your educational journey – I wish you the best for your future endeavours and a very well done to all of you!”

ENDS.

PRESS RELEASE – KENT LABOUR

Release: For Immediate Release – 10 August 2021

A LEVEL and BTEC RESULTS DAY 2021 – MESSAGE FROM KENT LABOUR

Today sees the distribution of school assessment results for all students that took A Levels and BTEC assessments in the past year. Kent Labour would like to offer their congratulations to those students on behalf of the Kent Labour County Councillors for all their hard work, dedication and commitment to their studies in what has been a very difficult year and a half for all young people and those that support them.

We hope that the results are what you hope for and allow you to progress to your chosen destination be it further study, training or employment. Should you need any assistance or advice with your results then please use the schools support systems or indeed seek advice from a trusted source such as a college, university or training provider.

County Councillor Alister Brady – Labour Shadow Cabinet Member for Education and ICS says: “Well done to all students on their achievements today. It has clearly been a challenging year for everyone which makes the successes today by students even more amazing. Kent Labour hope that these results are what you hope for and if not then please know that support is out there to help. Our thanks also to the schools, teachers and support staff that have worked throughout the pandemic as key workers for all they have done to continue learning and education.”

County Councillor Dr Lauren Sullivan –Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Group at Kent County Council says “Congratulations to all students on behalf of Kent Labour. The impact of Covid-19 on education in the past year has been immense but you should be proud of your achievements as you finish this stage of your educational career. I remember results day well and all the emotions that go with it and I would like to wish the students all the very best in their future endeavors”

ENDS.

PRESS RELEASE – KENT LABOUR

Release: For Immediate Release – 15 July 2021

KENT LABOUR COUNCILLORS STRIKE BACK AGAINST RACISM

On Monday Dartford North East Labour Kent County Councillor Kelly Grehan featured on the BBC to talk about Conservative MP’s comments in a party WhatsApp group about Marcus Rashford which have been well publicised https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-57807264

County Councillor Kelly Grehan – Shadow Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care on Kent County Council says: “It’s obvious that some people seem to take the view that young, black men from working class backgrounds who have made something of themselves should keep quiet. We have to wonder what motivates this view.

No one should be ‘kept out of politics.’ I find it hard to understand how anyone can look at Marcus Rashford, a 23-year-old man who has used his wealth and fame to ensure the voices of impoverished children are heard in a negative light and should instead be recognised as a role model for his community work as recognised by HM The Queen with his recent honour https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/54476721 . Without his intervention I’ve no doubt the government would have persisted on their cruel policy of leaving children without meals in school holidays, which we know would have affected them for the rest of their lives. Mr Rashford’s reading programme has also bought a love of reading to many children who lacked it. Had Mr Rashford not got involved in politics many children would be having worse lives.”

This week Gravesham Borough Councillors on a cross party basis joined Cohesion Plus, a Deputy Lord Lieutenant and members of the community in a rally to show Gravesham is united against racism which is a model for the county.

ENDS.

PRESS RELEASE – KENT LABOUR – 12 July 2021

Release: For Immediate Release

SCRUTINY OF THE KCC RECONNECT PROGRAMME

Last week all Opposition parties on Kent County Council supported the formal Scrutiny Call In of the Reconnect Programme decision by Cabinet of the 24 June 2021 and this was heard at the Scrutiny Committee of the 7 July 2021.

This was the second attempt at call in as the first one on the original paper and start up decision taken by Cabinet on the 15 March 2021 before the election for some reason did not meet the criteria for Scrutiny despite support from two Political Parties. This original paper also did not go for pre-Scrutiny as is usual at the Children, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee because the paper missed the publishing deadline.

So given the rushed nature of this programme with much in the way that remains to be set up and established it was important that in fulfilling our part in the democratic process to scrutinise and ask some important questions.

For the avoidance of doubt the Labour Group supports some of the aims and objectives to Reconnect but also feel that Scrutiny both pre and post decision is an important part of the democratic process to ensure that policies formed by Officers and agreed to by the Administration are fit for purpose for the people of Kent and should be taken into account by Officers and the Administration during the decision-making process. These are not mutually exclusive. There should be a presumption in favour of Scrutiny to ensure that all decisions (from both Cabinet Member and Officer under delegated powers) are as rigorous as possible taking into account all of the options available before and post decision.

In regard to the Reconnect Programme County Councillors were also told at the Scrutiny Committee that there is an urgency to this programme hence the rushed nature of it. While we agree to there being an urgency to the needs of the young people the Labour Group cannot help but wonder if the timing was partly to do with the then up and coming election and wonder if the same urgency was thought about during the failure of the Administration during austerity which saw much of this universal provision cutback and then a series of issues in SEND, mental health provision and other issues.

The important questions we sought to ask on Reconnect were:

  • What research and qualitative data will be provided to County Councillors on a regular basis to know that children and young people have indeed ‘Reconnected’?
  • Children and Young People should be at the heart of decision making about decisions that affect them. Could the Administration and Officers produce and publish the evidence and data that led to the creation of Reconnect and detail how many children and young people were involved and where in the County they are from?
  • How with the Reconnect Programme ensure that all monies reach the frontline and directly impact children and young people and not go into overheads?
  • How will children and young people be involved in the decision making of funding?
  • How does the Administration and Officers know what the children and young people of each Borough and District want to Reconnect on? Are there differences across Kent and can they publish the evidence of this engagement?
  • On the subject of Partnerships which will be absolutely essential to the success of this programme can the Administration and Officers outline what discussions they had with the key partners such as Borough and District Council’s, Leisure Providers and Commissioned Services before the programme was launched? What feedback was received and evidence of this?
  • Local Children’s Partnership Groups are not part of the formal governance of this authority so what legal advice was received to ensure that they have the power to take delegated decisions of this authority?
  • What happens if a provider that has received funding has not met the requirements of the programme? Is there a clawback provision so we can reinvest in young people?
  • Why not invest this in house and use the qualified expertise we have within the authority?
  • What agreement was in place before the decision was taken to then require the mandating of the requirement of their resources? (Section 5.5 of the Cabinet Paper)
  • What resourcing will take place to ensure those services external to KCC can meet the additional burdens this programme will place upon them.
  • Given that the programme is time limited what are the plans for post August 2022 to ensure children and young people remain ‘reconnected’?

 

As can be seen above these are deep, searching questions about this programme that have not been answered, partly as there seems to be a requirement under the current leadership of the Scrutiny Committee to keep things brief, but £10M is a serious amount of money and should be spent directly at the frontline with proper accountability of this programme to ensure it is fit for purpose and value for money.

County Councillor Alister Brady – Labour Shadow Cabinet Member for Education and ICS says: “For some children and young people this is too little too late, as for years, due to the cut backs and austerity that this Tory-led KCC has imposed on local communities, they have already been disconnected even before the Covid pandemic hit. We must continue to hold the Administration and Officers to account in Scrutiny Committee and elsewhere over the course of delivering the Reconnect programme.”

County Councillor Dr Lauren Sullivan –Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Group at Kent County Council says “The fact that there are so many questions does call into question how this programme, while admirable in its aims, will be able to evidence the quality of delivery and sustainability of reconnecting children and young people with the possibility of snatching away this hope in 2022, when the program ends, along with the fear of all other universal open access children’s and youth provision being further eroded due to the continuing budget pressures.”

ENDS.

PRESS RELEASE – KENT LABOUR 17 July 2021

Release: For Immediate Release

KENT LABOUR RESPOND TO TORY LED KCC ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THE KENT TEST WILL TAKE PLACE IN SEPTEMBER AS USUAL.

Conservative Led Kent County Council have announced that the Conservative Government (department of Education) have removed the guidance from Local Authorities the ability to delay the selection tests. This is despite the huge disruption of learning and opportunities during the pandemic for children which is still ongoing that they wish to, again, put ideology before children.

Kent Labour believe that every child needs to be treated fairly based on their wide range of skills and knowledge gained throughout their primary education phase and if Kent wishes to continue using selective education then it has a duty of care to all children to ensure such a test is fair, open, inclusive, accessible and transparent.

County Councillor Alister Brady the Labour Shadow Cabinet Member for Education and Skills says: ‘Any test should be a true reflection of the skills gained over a sustained period of time with everyone treated equally and fairly. This pandemic has exposed some of the deep rooted problems in Kent such as with poverty, including digital poverty and educational attainment and rather than helping to mitigate that and doing the right thing to, at the very least, postpone this test until they can prove all children have had the opportunity to catch up to pre pandemic levels the Conservative Administration together with Senior Officers at KCC are further entrenching this unfairness. We call on KCC to postpone this test and work with schools as well as children and the families to ensure that any such test reflect the need for fairness. If other systems are good enough for those at GCSE and A Level then what is the excuse this time here in Kent?’

County Councillor Dr Lauren Sullivan the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Group agrees: ‘Fairness should be at the heart of all that we do, yet once again the Conservatives have shown that this doesn’t matter and will put their narrow ideology before their duty of care to the children and young people of Kent.’

ENDS

Press Release: 18th June 2021

Release: For Immediate Release

Kent Labour call on KCC to Renew Carers Strategy

Kent Labour Councillors have called upon Kent County Council to produce a new Carers Strategy, on account of the present document not having been updated since June 2009.

The document was produced after the Labour Government produced a national carers strategy in 2008 which sought to ‘put carers at the heart of communities’ and set out the government’s 10-year strategy for giving support to carers.  When publishing their response document, the following year KCC ‘committed to deliver the national strategy in 5 years rather than the suggested 10.’

Adult Social Care Shadow Cabinet Members, Cllrs Kelly Grehan and Jackie Meade have  highlighted the inadequacy of the situation.

Labour spokesperson for Adult Social Care Kelly Grehan (Dartford North East) said ‘1 in 9 adults in Kent are Carers, that’s over 151,000 people.  The Theme of this year’s Carers week was ‘making carers visible’ but it seems like in Kent they have been forgotten, with a strategy not revisited for 12 years, despite the claim when it was published that it would be met in five.  Kent’s carers deserve better than this. Among those providing more than 50 hours a week of unpaid care, this comes at a cost that is equivalent to the loss of 18 days in full health for every 1 year spent caring and expectations on carers are growing – with 7 in 10 carers doing more – on average an extra 10 hours caring/week – during coronavirus outbreak.  Yet here in Kent there is no updated strategy of support.’

Cllr Jackie Meade (Folkestone East) said ‘Carers save this country a fortune by providing 90% of the care delivered for the princely sum of £67.25 per week.  We owe it to them to support them.  As a former carer myself I know the importance of carers and I am furious that here in Kent they are reliant on a strategy which was written four Prime Ministers ago.  Sadly, so much has changed since then with austerity and not for the better.’

Young carers have also been, seemingly forgotten with them last discussed as an agenda item at KCC in 2010 – a lifetime ago for many of Kent’s young carers.

NOTES

Kent Strategy (2009) https://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/12687/kent-adult-carers-strategy.pdf

KCC Young Carers Update (2010) https://democracy.kent.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=12969

National Strategy (2008) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-national-carers-strategy

State of Caring Report (2020)  https://www.carersfirst.org.uk/kent/state-of-caring-survey-2020

For more details contact Kelly Grehan 07983535659

PRESS RELEASE – KENT LABOUR – 7 June 2021
Release: For Immediate Release
STATEMENT ON THE CONSERVATIVE THREAT TO NOT FULFIL ITS STATUTORY DUTIES – AGAIN.
Kent County Council has announced via a press statement that it once again seeks to forgo its statutory Duty of Care legal duty for vulnerable children who happen to be unaccompanied asylum seekers or refugees. This is a failure of both this Conservative Administration at Kent and in Government. This is the second time that this Conservative Administration has been content to allow Kent County Council to be acting illegally by not fulfilling its statutory duties.
The Conservatives have been in control for the past 11 years both at Government and even longer at Kent County Council and here again, these vulnerable children and young people are caught in the middle of a political row between the Government providing enough money to support these young people and Kent County Council that want to pass these young people on across the country. We hear a lot at Kent from the Administration and Senior Officers about the need for KCC to support only the vulnerable rather than universal provision. This rhetoric rings hollow when some of the most vulnerable are used in a political game by two Conservative Administrations.
Kent County Council has a legal duty of care for these children and young people, just as it does for all children and young people that come into the care of Kent County Council. So, this begs the question given that this is the second such failure of this policy following other failures including in SEND, where is the accountability for this failure and who is ultimately accountable?
It has long been this Labour Group’s policy that Government should fully fund local government for the services it provides to local people on its behalf, and this long-established principle has been destroyed by the years of ongoing austerity placing the burden on the people of Kent. We have heard from successive recent Prime Ministers that austerity is over even during the Pandemic, but clearly it is not.
We agree that Government needs to find a long-term solution with Kent County Council in relation to those vulnerable children and young people, including fully funding so that other services do not suffer, but the approach KCC has taken to challenge the Government in a game of brinkmanship shows a breakdown of communication and a lack of will of both institutions to fulfil the statutory Duty of Care that these young people need.
It seems all these many years of ongoing dialogue between the Government, Home Office and the Conservative KCC Administration and Senior Officers have failed. Maybe they have the wrong address or phone number as the current Home Secretary is clearly able to move quickly to support Conservative members when she wishes to according to allegations in media reports.
The Leader of the Labour Group, Dr Lauren Sullivan said, “Following the SEND Ofsted/CQC failure in 2019 and now this second attempt by the Conservative Administration to avoid legal duties this begs serious questions about what else KCC would be willing not to deliver as a statutory service? Where and who is accountable for this ongoing failure?
This decision taken by the KCC Conservative Administration will be fully scrutinised by the Labour Group to explore these failures, seek out accountability as this seems to indicate that politics is more of a priority than providing a duty of care in Kent.”
This statement is supported by every Member of the Labour Group
Cllr Dr Lauren Sullivan
Cllr Karen Constantine
Cllr Mel Dawkins
Cllr Jackie Meade
Cllr Barry Lewis
Cllr Kelly Grehan
Cllr Alister Brady
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