KCC leader denies tips and libraries ‘set for axe’ as authority seeks £81m of savings

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

This article has been amended to include comments from council leader Roger Gough

The leader of the county’s largest local authority has sought to quell fears tips and libraries are set to be axed to save money.

Kent County Council leader Cllr Roger Gough says he has no intention of closing the facilities despite needing to find £81m to fill the budget gap in 2025-26.

His position, however, is at odds with the understanding of several of his senior team the Local Democracy Reporting Service has spoken to, who say the cuts are “almost inevitable”.

The leader said: “We are undertaking extensive work on delivering a balanced budget for the council for 2025-26.

“This does not include any proposals related to closures of either libraries or household waste recycling centres and they will not be brought forward.”

But a source close to Cllr Gough disclosed: “Ten days out from a general election and this comes out. We will see in a few months whether the tips and the libraries are safe.”

According to the well-placed sources, libraries and recycling centres will not be spared from cuts as KCC seeks to make massive savings in order to avoid bankruptcy.

Just a few months after members voted through this year’s budget, the authority’s senior leadership is delving into every corner of the authority for efficiencies.

Conservative-run KCC, like almost every other authority in the country, is not receiving enough central government funding to meet the soaring costs of providing its services.

Liberal Democrat campaigner Cllr Dave Naghi said KCC is “no longer fit for purpose” and predicted a huge public backlash.

Failure to balance the books could result in KCC having to issue a section 114 notice – an effective admission of bankruptcy – with the prospect of government commissioners appointed to run the council.

Transport and highways cabinet member Cllr Neil Baker said: “Without singling out any one area out, it is fair to say that we are looking at absolutely everything.

“No matter what happens at the general election on July 4, local government funding situation is not going to change in the next few months or even years.”

One of the sources says selling library buildings and a reduction in the number of tips by up to four are on the table once more.

The threat will almost certainly return in the coming months and a public backlash is almost inevitable.

It also means the ruling Conservatives will go to the polls in May 2025 weeks after having made more cuts to discretionary (those not required by law) spending.

Some backbenchers believe the Tories will suffer badly at the ballot box, perhaps losing up to half of the 60 seats they secured last time.

The closure of household waste recycling centres were shelved last summer, although the council leadership did indicate the issue would re-emerge later.

The tip closure plans provoked protest Photo Simon Finlay

The council will make the case the county’s tips run at around 80% capacity and closures wouldn’t materially affect users’ experiences, especially under the new booking system.

Four out of six tips are under threat. The six are Faversham, Tovil in Maidstone, Deal , Richborough, Dartford and Swanley.

In January, KCC deputy leader Cllr Peter Oakford caused uproar by declaring there “far too many libraries” in Kent compared to other areas.

The source said that there are clusters of libraries close together which could be cut “without inconveniencing users too much”.

The source added: “It is going to be greatly resisted but it is inevitable, I am afraid. Given the choice, we wouldn’t be closing any of them. There is no choice.”

The authority is in charge of 99 libraries.

Cllr Naghi, a cabinet member at Maidstone Borough Council, said: “The Tories at KCC are not fit for purpose and the public will simply not stand for this

“If a council cannot keep the tips and libraries open, what on earth are they for? KCC isn’t fit for purpose any more.”

If the Conservatives do badly at the general election, pressure may grow on Cllr Gough, who may face another leadership challenge at the Conservative AGM in October.

The source said: “This may demoralise back benchers further, especially if they are going to stand in the election a few weeks after making a load of cuts to services and facilities the voters have hitherto enjoyed.

“The flip side of that is that those most likely to be up to the job, like Jeremy Kite, Sir Paul Carter, Nick Chard or Peter Oakford probably wouldn’t want it. It’s a poison chalice.”

20 Comments

  1. they want to look at the money THEY WASTE FIRST , too many ” consultants fees ” jolly ups , and more , millions could be saved by getting rid off the top heavy institution , there are too many stupid job titles , and non existent jobs for the boys , look inside before you make live difficult for the rate payers ,

    • I can guarantee life will not be much better under starmer and co,same as the Tories different colour that’s all .Both only interested in themselves,not normal everyday people

    • A few years ago a certain note was left by the Labour party “no money left”” remember Barry bankrupt Britain

      • Never mind no money left, the Tories have left a mess that will take a decade to repair, what will there note say, broke Britain.

    • Well as a Labour government is pretty much guaranteed we can all look forward to a land of milk and honey under them , where none of lifes bothersome financial realities will be an issue.
      Will you put all you possess on such an outcome?

    • Mr Lewis – and you think a change of government will make a difference? Different snouts in our trough’s but result will be same.

  2. Just think how many billions they could save by simply pushing the illegal migrant boats back, it worked for Australia.

        • Right Steve and all you other numpties, who think its possible to just turn the boats around and send them back to France. If it was that easy why hasn’t it been done before now? Is it illegal for someone in the UK to launch an inflatable boat into the Channel? No it not, and neither is it for any French person to do the same! Do you understand? It is not illegal to launch an inflatable boat from France, Duurh!

          As I am tired of saying to you idiots who voted to leave the EU, its because when we were a member anyone arriving and claiming asylum in an EU country, had their application dealt with there. But now, and are listening at the back, anyone arriving in the UK cannot be sent back to the first safe EU country, because the UK is no longer a member of the EU, again Duuurh! One way to stop small boats would be to rejoin the EU, and they would stop overnight!

    • Yep, the cost of receiving , processing, housing , integrating, providing services for the arrivals and their eventual relatives under rights of family reunion will easily run at over a million per arrival, it’s all very well choosing to allow all and sundry to arrive , but quite where is the money coming from to do so?

  3. return the economic migrants to france , or any off the other countries they were happy to travel through , in an effort to get to benefits britain , we will never know the truth on how much of our money has been spaffed , to qoute boris

    • Once again so called Real World, you haven’t thought it through! What if the country they say they came from, like Turkey, won’t have them back? Get whoever it is that ties your shoe laces in the morning to explain this to you please.

  4. Can see a lot of councils just doing what Derek Hatton & co did in Liverpool-ignoring the government budgets, setting their own & then sending taxis round to fire everybody-as they all file for bankruptcy.

  5. Said it before, will repeat again. The entire political system requires changing radically in this country. Huge changes need to be made. As does the running of county and local councils, they are inefficient, and waste vast sums of money.

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