1. Mr M Hill (Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services) gave a verbal update on the following issues:
Accuracy of Kent Police Crime Recording:
Kent Police’s crime-recording arrangements that had previously been graded as inadequate had recently undergone inspection from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and were rated as outstanding. Mr Hill said that he written to the Chief Constable to congratulate Kent Police on behalf of Kent County Council.
Update of the Preparations for Brexit:
Within Mr Hill’s portfolio, the two areas that would sustain the greatest impact as a result of Brexit would be the Emergency Planning Service and Trading Standards.
The Emergency Planning Service had been engaged in developing plans for the multi-agency Kent Resilience Forum and the operational plan had been trialled with further training exercises planned for February and March 2019. The existing mutual aid arrangements with the seven South East authorities were also in the process of being revised. Training in multiagency response and recovery had also been arranged for Duty Directors, Managers and other staff; and a command rota was being developed to cover Kent County Councils response over a six-month period and based on a 24/7-hour response rate. Kent County Council was also leading on its multiagency communications planning and an internal communications plan was being developed to raise staff awareness. Across the directorate, a resilience group had also been established and this would meet monthly with regular progress and monitoring reports. Kent County Council was also reviewing its business continuity plans and had set up a number of workshops which were also being held for Challenger and Environment Planning and Enforcement staff.
The Trading Standards Service which was the area most affected by Brexit was undertaking recruitment for additional border force staff. Brexit may require multi-port operational activities which would have detrimental effect on the Council’s resources.
2. Mr M Whiting (Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste) gave a verbal update on the following issues:
Update of the Preparations for Brexit:
Kent County Council had been awarded £29 million of capital grant funding from the Transport Secretary to begin construction on road improvements and infrastructure in preparation for leaving the EU on 29 March 2020. This included work at Manston Airport, a new TAP outside Dover on the A256 and work on the A249, A25 and A20 amongst others. Additional funding was also anticipated for the operational resources to support the work which would be granted following the finalisation of the Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Plans as part of the multiagency work within the Kent Resilience Forum.
Manston Airport Trial:
The Manston trial took place on 7 January 2019 in preparation for operation Brock. The purpose of the trial was to test the proposed entry and exit points of the site, the release rate of the Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) and the time it took for the vehicles to travel from Manston to the Port of Dover, via the to the port of new TAP on the A256. There were 89 vehicles from several companies who took part in the tow trial runs, one at 08:00am which released the vehicles in batches of 25 and one at 11:00am which released 83 at once. The results showed that a steady flow of traffic could be maintained down to the Port with assistance from well trained onsite staff.
A new bus feedback from was due to be launched on 28 January 2019 on Kent County Council’s Bus portal website. The form would enable residents to provide feedback on the Council’s subsidised bus services and those provided by commercial operators. The information gathered would then be shared at the bus operator’s regular quarterly quality bus partnership meetings and recurring issues would be sent to the Traffic Commissioner on behalf of the residents. Communication was due to be circulated to Members, Parish Councils and the general public.
With regard to emergency planning for the winter season, Mr Whiting said that 23,000 tonnes of salt had been stocked, 17 new gritter lorries had been procured, salt bins had been filled and Parish Councils had offered residents salt bags. As of 7 January 2019, Kent County Council had carried out 12 salting runs across the county and were due to finish the installation of brine saturations by the end of February 2019.
Waste Transfer Station:
The Waste Transfer Station took longer to clear as a result of increased demand over the Christmas period, however, Kent County Council increased its resources across all waste sites and extended its opening hours to manage service demand. This was a short-term pressure and capacity issues had since been resolved.
3. Mr Hill, Mr Whiting and Mr Jones (Director of Highways, Transportation and Waste) responded to comments and questions from Members, including the following: -
(a) Mr Whiting acknowledged Members concerns regarding compliance and enforcement which was an issue recognised by a number of agencies. The Leader of Kent County Council had addressed this with the Home Secretary, Transport Secretary and other partner agencies in an attempt to understand what powers already existed, who was responsible for those powers and whether new ones needed to be created to enable enforcement. Supplementary to this, Mr Jones said that there were designated facilities within the Kent strategic road network for freight which managed the flow of traffic in and out of Dover. The Compliance Strategy adopted a similar approach in order to successfully control the direction and flow of traffic.
(b) In response to Government funding, Mr Whiting confirmed that the £29 million would be awarded to Kent County Council before 29 March 2019 to ensure that the infrastructure was in place.
(c) Mr Jones said that a dedicated team had been established to manage the work issued to supply chains and confirmed that there were no anticipated issues with delivering the routine work. Communication to the general public regarding the routine works would be carried out in advance and this would be done through consultation or via letter.
(d) In response to Members concerns regarding the recruitment of veteran surgeons at the Port of Dover, Mr Hill agreed to liaise with officers and respond to Members directly.
(e) With regard to salt bins, Mr Whiting asked Members to report empty salt bins to Simon Jones and said that a review of empty salt bins would be carried out
4. RESOLVED that the verbal update be noted, with thanks.