Agenda item

Verbal Update


1.    Mrs S Hohler (Deputy Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services) announced that the Community Wardens Service had successfully recruited ten new wardens and subject to passing their accreditation their role within the community would start in August 2019.


2.    Mr M Whiting (Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste) provided a verbal update on the following issues:


(a)  KCC was formally recognised for its proactive approach to risk management and casualty reduction at the EuroRAP results event on 4 July


(b)  Over 75 highway improvement plans had been developed working with Parishes


(c)   KCC had secured £2m funding to look at how new technologies could help improve performance of drainage and winter services


(d)  The Old Chalk New Downs project ran the ‘Walk the Chalk’ walking festival in June which featured 7 guided walks including one for blind and partially sighted. A total of 78 people took part and KCC received positive feedback


(e)  The second phase of work at the Pepper Hill Waste Recycling Centre would require the site to be fully closed from Sunday 18th August 2019 for a period of 9 weeks. No kerbside collections would be affected as alternative tipping locations were in place for all kerbside material streams. Also, local residents would be able to use alternative sites with extended opening hours at Swanley, Dartford and Tovil. There also remained an agreement for KCC resident to utilise the sites at Medway, but they would require ID to access their sites. Social media communications via Twitter and Facebook were due to be posted to inform residents of the closure and would be updated as to the progress, timescale of the works and opening hours of alternative sites.


(f)    A fire at the Ashford Waste Transfer Station on Saturday 29th June was quickly attended to by the Kent Fire and Rescue Service. Mr Whiting praised the Fire Service, the contractor Biffa and KCC officers who ensured that disruption to residents and District collection crews was minimised.


(g)  Following KCC intervention, Southern Gas Networks had completed its work on Rye Road in Hawkhurst nearly three weeks ahead of schedule. There was huge concern locally around the original plans to close the road for 11 weeks during the summer, which would have had a massive effect on local residents and businesses, so to reduce this to five weeks was a good result.


(h)  Mr Whiting congratulated all KCC staff, volunteers and partners who made such a success of the Kent County show. It was a valuable opportunity to talk to residents about their environment concerns. Not surprisingly the biggest challenge was deemed to be plastic, followed by litter and fly tipping, the quantity of buildings/housing development and climate change. There was also good promotion for Kent’s Plan Bee with visitors being given free wildflower seeds in support of the Plan.


(i)    The Government has published the Clean Maritime Plan which is the UK’s blueprint for clean growth and zero emissions in the maritime sector by 2050 which is in line with KCC’s policy on zero emissions. By publishing this plan, the UK becomes one of the first countries since the agreement of the strategy to publish a National Action Plan. The plan was development in consultation with key stakeholders, including the Clean Maritime Council and it identifies actions on economics, infrastructure, innovation and regulation to bring about a future of zero-emission shipping in the UK.


(j)    In recent weeks there had been huge disruption on the M2 Junctions 5 to 7 caused by Highways England’s works. Mr Whiting wrote a letter to Highways England asking them to postpone all Saturday works and restrict the works to evening only.


3.    The Cabinet Member and officers responded to comments and questions as follows:


(a)  Mr Beaver (Head of Waste Management Services) informed Members that the fire at the Ashford Waste Transfer Station on 27th June may have been caused by a number of materials i.e. lithium batteries, hot ash etc. that have often led to a build up of heat. During operation hours a member of the public disposed their waste into the residual bay, and it was believed that when the shovel entered the bunker to turn over the material, air came into contact with the contents which caused the bunker to ignite. After the Pepperhill fire, before closure of the sites, KCC brought in a number of operatives with heat seeking equipment to help detect hotspots around the site and only when satisfied that there were no hotspots was the decision made to close the sites. Ashford was a separate scenario caused through the dispatch of waste by a resident.


(b)  It was agreed that a briefing be scheduled for all Members on the existing and forthcoming road works


(c)   Mr Whiting agreed to take Members comments and ensure the following points were raised by Mrs Cooper (Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport) to Highways England:


·         To further reduce the delay caused by gasworks on Tonbridge Road (A26) due to pressure on surrounding minor roads

·         The continual use of laybys on the A2 by HGV drivers

·         The synchronisation of Lydd traffic lights on J7

·         Unmanned roadworks on the A258 causing congestion


4.    RESOLVED that the verbal update be noted, with thanks.