The Green Party is calling for the abolition of Kent County Council and its replacement by six unitary councils based on the following groupings.
Thanet and Dover (population 245,500)
Canterbury and Swale (population 287,000)
Shepway and Ashford (population 226,000)
Maidstone Tonbridge and Malling (population 289,000)
Dartford and Gravesham (population 199,000)
Sevenoaks, and Tunbridge Wells (population 230,000)
Existing Medway unitary council with a population 264,000 will remain unchanged.
The new unitary authorities would provide education, social care, highways, planning, housing, refuse collection and many other services to populations of between 200,000 – 300,000 people.
Chair of Kent Green Party and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald, Stuart Jeffrey said “the existing county council is too large and unwieldy. It lacks any real connection and accountability to the people it serves. Local government should, by definition, be based as close to its electors as possible, rather than being inaccessible to most of Kent’s residents.
Smaller unitary councils will bring together areas of Kent which are already closely connected and share many common issues. They will also bring together residents, staff and politicians with an expert understanding of the areas covered by the new councils. This would place them in a stronger position to develop more effective policies and strategies than the current Maidstone based system”.
Green Party Thanet District Councillor Ian Driver said, “In East Kent many of the District Councils are already working closely together. They have successfully shared Housing, Human Resources, IT, Revenues, Benefits and Audit services for several years, so why not include KCC services as well?
I believe that the new unitary councils should be elected by proportional representation so that smaller parties and independent candidates can be represented giving a more balanced and inclusive approach to decision making. The new councils should be managed by committee systems to prevent power being concentrated into the hands of a tiny handful of cabinet members and they should be underpinned and supported by a strong system of parish and town councils which will ensure community accountability”.
The establishment of unitary authorities will form part of the Kent Green Party’s manifesto for the 2015 council elections.