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Apologies and Substitutes
There were no apologies or substitutes.
Declaration of Interests by Member in Items on the Agenda for this meeting
There were no declarations of interest.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2020 were a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman.
Cabinet Member Updates
(1) Mrs Bell reported that the flu vaccination programme was to be expanded and Kent residents were encouraged to get flu vaccines. It was reported that flu kills, on average, 11,000 people in England each year. New research suggested that people infected with both Covid-19 and flu were more at risk of severe illness and death. The full list of people to be called for a free vaccination was available on the NHS website.
Mrs Bell reported on World Mental Health Day and signposted to Kent.gov website, a specific website for children and families and to a 24-hour helpline available to people struggling and in need of immediate help.
Andrew Scott Clark, the Director for Public Health, was to hold a briefing to update on the situation for Kent and to give a reminder about national guidelines ahead of school half term. It was reported that there was an upswing in Covid-19 cases in Kent and a reminder was given to follow the government guidelines in order to keep Kent ‘open for business’.
(2) Mrs Chandler reported that KCC was unable to change the position around Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) without a significant impact on the safe care of the children and young people already in their care.
Work was being undertaken by Mrs Chandler and the Leader with Children, Young People and Education to ensure the government moved to make the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) mandatory. This would mean that the burden of dealing with new arrivals did not fall unfairly on Kent or on other port of entry authorities. They responded to the government’s consultation on the NTS on 30 September to this effect. The Leader also wrote to Minister Chris Philp on this issue; saying it was essential to ensure there was no repetition of the current crisis and the similar one which occurred in 2015.
It was reported that Headstart Kent, a programme which has enhanced the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people since 2016, had been awarded additional funding from the National Lottery to continue its work for another year.
(3) Mr Long reported that recent returns from Kent’s schools indicated attendance of pupils at school was just under 94%, which was an increase from when schools first reopened in September. There had been a number of cases since schools reopened where large numbers of individuals in schools had to self-isolate. Public Health, Education, and Health and Safety officers continued to work closely with schools providing advice and guidance as required.
Arrangements for the Kent Test had been significantly impacted by Covid-19. Plans were in place for Kent pupils to sit the Kent Test on Thursday, 15 October and for out of county applicants to sit the test from Saturday, 17 October. The Fair Access team in the Children Young People and Education directorate had been working on arrangements for many months to ensure contingency plans were in place for a range of different scenarios and that pupils and ... view the full minutes text for item 173.
(Simon Jones, Director for Highways, Transportation and Waste was in attendance for this item)
(1) Mr Payne introduced the report which had been requested at the Cabinet meeting of 22 June 2020 due to increased incidences of flash flooding. The report sought to identify issues regarding managing surface water flood risk and the actions taken in order to mitigate these risks. Thanks were given to the Drainage Asset Team for both their proactive work and reactive responses in recent times. Thanks were also given to the team managing the Blue Green Infrastructure Project.
(2) Mr Jones reported that in June 2020, it had been identified there had been a number of incidences of significant surface flooding across the county and plans had been made in the following areas:
· Mapping and understanding the drainage network;
· Feeding this information into updated Surface Water Management Plan;
· Operational considerations around the network maintenance and changes to the way assets were managed;
· New and innovative ways such as Live Labs, using a managed monitoring approach to looking after assets rather than a preventative approach, giving better productivity;
· Improvements to the network using technology such as smart gullies, sustainable and natural ways of managing surface water such as Blue Green schemes.
· Looking at the root cause of surface water flooding on the highway as in many cases the water is coming from elsewhere;
· Looking at how work could be done with organisations, the off-takers of the surface water on the highways.
(3) Resolved that the report be noted.
(Simon Jones, Director for Highways, Transportation and Waste was in attendance for this item)
(1) Mr Payne introduced the report referring to comments made at the previous meeting, the schemes had been implemented to the government’s deadlines and as a result, residents had not been consulted due to the timescale given. Where the schemes that had been implemented were not working properly, it was agreed that they would cease, and this had been the case with several of the trials. However, it was noted that the majority of the schemes had been well received. Further changes would need to be made but this was part of testing the concept schemes on behalf of the government. The schemes that had been well received included school streets, public rights of way improvement and 20mph areas in towns. If awarded, Tranche 2 funding would be for strategic cycleways separated from the main carriageway and these would need to be subject to full public consultation.
(2) Mr Jones reported that it had been a difficult situation with public consultation and the nature of the programme had meant that some individuals and groups felt insufficiently consulted. Going forward, this will be rectified.
(3) The Leader thanked the teams involved for their work on the Emergency Active Travel Programme as it was difficult to manage concerns around public consultation under the time constraints involved.
(4) In response to questions, it was noted:
· Some communities had felt that the Emergency Active Travel Programme measures had been imposed. The intention for the future would be for schemes to be planned and permanent with considered public consultation.
· The schemes part of the Emergency Active Travel Programme had been supported by borough and district councils.
· Concerns were raised around cycle lanes occupying lanes which had previously been for traffic and emergency vehicles and the impact this has on the movement of traffic.
· Cycle routes off of the highway and leisure cycling would be part of Tranche 2 works.
(5) Resolved that the report be noted
(Sarah Platts, Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Manager was in attendance for this item)
(1) Mr Whiting introduced the report. KCC and many other colleagues from local government across the country had responded very strongly to the government consultation regarding changes to current planning system. Kent MPs had raised concerns in the Commons around the same issues.
Concerns were raised about the provision of strategic infrastructure.
(2) Ms Platts gave an overview of the White Paper and outlined the key reforms and considerations for KCC. The White Paper included many sweeping reforms which would have a massive impact on how growth is planned and how the supporting infrastructure would come about. It was noted that the White Paper was lacking in detail.
The White Paper was mainly focussed on housing and argued that house building was being slowed down by the planning system. There was little detail around reforms that could affect KCC.
The White Paper was stated to put more focus on design and digitise the planning process. Land use plans would be introduced, with three types of land categories: “growth areas”, “renewal areas” and “protected areas”.
It was raised as a concern that arbitrary timescales are being proposed to be set without due consideration to statutory consultees such as KCC and without due regard for the level of detail that would be required at an early stage during the Local Plan process in order to categorise land uses.
The Duty to Cooperate, which has been important in strategic planning (including of minerals and waste management), was to be lost but there was no detail around what would replace it.
Transport and Highways are integral to planning for growth but are hardly mentioned in the White Paper.
One of the key areas of concern is the funding of infrastructure. The current way of securing funding through Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy are due to be scrapped and would be replaced with an infrastructure levy which would be a proportion of the value of the development, set above a fixed threshold. Again, details around how this would operate are limited.
(3) In response to questions, the following points were raised:
· Developers hold responsibility for housing delivery but this is not properly captured in the White Paper
· Concerns were raised around the potential loss of employment land being re-allocated for housing sites and that this could result in areas of housing development without local employment.
· Comments were made regarding the potential for a reduced level of public consultation in an attempt to streamline the process to accelerate the delivery of housing.
· Proposals about authorities being able to borrow against infrastructure levies were of concern.
· Where the White Paper is ‘silent’ on a number of issues, it was suggested that the response from KCC could seek to put forward solutions and produce a solution focussed response.
(4) Resolved that the comments made be included in KCC’s response and that the signing of KCC’s response to the white papers be delegated ... view the full minutes text for item 176.
The Leader congratulated the former Leader of KCC, Mr Carter and announced that Mr Carter had been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and would receive a knighthood.