(1) The report detailed the proposed Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS) to be established along the A20 London Road, near Maidstone, and gave an overview of what the Scheme involved and the respective commitments that KCC, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and local bus operators would sign up to. It sought approval to establish the SQPS, which would become a legally binding document. The Scheme would then be sent to the Traffic Commissioner for the local area and bus operators serving the route. An official Notice would also be published in the local press, at which point the Scheme would run for a period of 10 years.
(2) There are no financial implications. S106 funds are being used to provide infrastructure improvements (£373,000 available from Holborough Lakes) and more funding would become available in the future from developments at Kings Hill and Leybourne Chase. KCC maintenance requirements were in line with existing procedures so would not necessitate any extra spending.
(3) The desire for the SQPS grew out of the Medway Valley Sustainable Transport Strategy (MVSTS). It is recognised as an important tool to lock in the benefits of investments that had been made by KCC through developer contributions and by bus operators in the area. It is also seen as an opportunity to reduce air pollution in the local Air Quality Management Areas. Arriva and KCC successfully bid for the Government’s Green Bus Fund for grant funding to support the purchase of 11 new hybrid diesel/electric buses for Route 71 (Maidstone to Holborough and Snodland via Leybourne Lakes), which KCC also contributed to.
(4) Whilst KCC is not responsible for bus services, the SQPS provides the opportunity to mandate high quality service levels and safeguard investments in bus facilities. It is a legally binding partnership between Kent County Council and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council to improve bus travel along the A20 London Road corridor. The Scheme would provide all passengers with a high quality bus service. As well as benefiting current bus travellers, it is hoped the improvements will encourage more people to travel by bus and thus limit the increasing congestion on the corridor. The Scheme area is 3 miles in length running along London Road (A20) from the Junction with Coldharbour Lane (Coldharbour Roundabout) in a Westerly Direction, to the junction with Ashton Way (A228) and Castle Way (See 13.3 map of Scheme Area)
(5) The report included information on the following:-
· Service Standards to be met by operators
· Facilities provided by KCC
· Infrastructure/Services provided by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
· Maintenance standards provided by KCC
· Options considered and dismissed – including maintaining the status quo
· Any legal implications of the suggested action
· Any equalities implications of the suggested action
· Any implications for the council’s property portfolio of the suggested action
· Who was likely to inherit the main delegations via the Officer Scheme of Delegation – e.g. does a contract need signing who was likely to do it?
· Any other information required in order that the ... view the full minutes text for item 22