Andrew Loosemore (Head of Highways Asset Management) and Robin Hadley (Soft Landscape Asset Manager) were in attendance for this item.
1. Mr Brazier introduced the proposed decision, confirmed that the proposed contract term was 5 years with the option to extend for a further 3 years and noted his preference for three lots, as reflected in the decision report. He recognised that there was significant public interest in in swathe cutting and verges, the link to biodiversity and Plan Bee was recognised.
2. Mr Hadley provided further detail on the proposed contracted lots. He outlined the areas to be covered by each lot: lot 1, Dartford, Gravesham, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, and Tunbridge Wells; lot 2, Maidstone and Ashford; and lot 3, Swale, Canterbury, Thanet, and Dover. He noted that Folkestone and Hythe District Council cut rural swathes in their district under contract with KCC. He confirmed that the proposed contracts met the minimum statutory requirement and recognised the cost implications of other provisions.
3. Following multiple member questions, Mr Hadley agreed to share the approximate cost of a double cut contract option with members, following the meeting.
4. Mr Hadley confirmed, following a question from Mr Baldock, that rural swathe cutting schedules were shared with the relevant officers at district councils.
5. In response to a comment from Mr Collor, Mr Hadley reassured the committee that highway safety remained the main priority for rural swathe management.
6. Following a question from Mr Lewis, Mr Hadley agreed to provide members, at their request, with maps of the swathe cuttings areas in their division.
7. The chairman asked whether there had been any coordination between litter picking and rural swathe cutting. Mr Brazier gave reassurance that there had been extensive collaboration with district councils, given their responsibilities for waste removal.
RESOLVED to endorse the proposed decision of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport toprovide the Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport with delegated authority to procure and enter into appropriate contractual arrangements for the provision of Rural Swathe, Visibility and Hedge Maintenance including any potential extension periods in accordance with the expectations set out in the report as shown in the Proposed Record of Decision.