1. Mr Payne introduced the report that outlined Kent County Council’s (KCC) proposed response to the consultation by the emerging Sub-national Transport Body (STB) – Transport for the South East (TfSE), on its proposal to government for statutory powers.
2. Supplementary to this, Mr Ratcliffe informed the Committee that the primary purpose of the report was to agree KCCs proposed response supporting the establishment of an STB for the South East with it as a constituent authority within TfSE and support the proposed voting mechanism for the Partnership Board. Mr Ratcliffe referred in particular to the table under paragraph 3.4 of the report that summarised the powers and KCCs response to support or conditionally support each power sought by the TfSE. Mr Ratcliffe noted that the proposal was expected to be submitted by the TfSE to Government in late 2019, with statutory status subsequently being awarded should approval be given by the Secretary of State in 2020. However, after the consultation was launched, the Secretary of State wrote to all emerging STBs indicating that his preference for the foreseeable future was to continue to work with the STBs as voluntary partnerships rather than grant statutory status. Mr Ratcliffe informed Members that as the TfSE was part way through the consultation when the letter was written, it placed them in a good position to move forward if and when the position of the Secretary of State changed. A new approach would be discussed by TfSE’s shadow board in September and should the position change, a KCC Leader decision would come back to Committee for formal endorsement which would be the first step in a long process of establishing such a body.
3. The officers responded to Comments and questions as follows:
(a) With regards to the status of the STB and whether this would remain as a shadow body until further notice was given by the Secretary of State, Mr Payne said that funding continued to be provided to TfSE by the Secretary of State for further studies which was not the case for other Sub-national bodies around the country and consultations would continue to be had in a manner that recognised the TfSE as a statutory body.
(b) Mr Ratcliffe said that the purpose of the consultation was to hear the views of all constituent member authorities and stakeholders and to revise the proposal following the received feedback. The revised proposal would then be presented to the TfSE shadow Board for endorsement. In order for KCC to sign up to the revised proposal, a decision would need to be taken by the Leader of the Council (under article 10(1) and 10(4) of the constitution), providing that there would be no transfer of powers, to endorse the final proposal made by the TfSE to government on the powers and responsibilities relating to the establishment of TfSE following formal consultation. However, should the revised proposal include a transfer of powers, the decision would need to go to full County Council to amend the constitution. Mr Ratcliffe assured Members that a revised final proposal by the TfSE would be brought back to the Cabinet Committee prior to the decision being taken by the Leader.
(c) In response to queries regarding the inclusion of the M25 J5, Mr Ratcliffe informed Members that the request for the inclusion of the M25 J5 was featured within the original submission to Highways England (HE) and the Department for Transport (DfT) several years ago when compiling the list of priorities for RIS2. KCC were awaiting confirmation of what the final RIS2 priorities would be, however, KCC were mindful that there were competing demands that needed to be taken into consideration from the Kent Network, the wider South East and the rest of the country. Mr Ratcliffe assured Members that work had been done to support the scheme and welcomed Members the opportunity to discuss matters further outside of the meeting.
(d) Mrs Cooper (Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport) said that stakeholders from around London and the South East used the forum to discuss major priorities and KCC were in a strong position at the table to ensure it was articulating the needs for Kent and applying for bids when possible. Mrs Cooper paid tribute to the offices involved who continued to push for Kent’s needs to be prioritised.
(e) Mr Ratcliffe informed Members that the A229 work was part of a large local major scheme funding bid and work continued to be undertaken to resolve ongoing concerns.
4. RESOLVED that the proposed response by Kent County Council (KCC) to the consultation by Transport for the South East (TfSE) with proposed support for powers 1 to 9, and conditional support for powers 10 to 15 as set out in the table in section 3.4 and in the conclusions in paragraphs 4.6 to 4.8, be noted.
(The conditional support is that it is agreed by TfSE that the principle of subsidiarity applies in that decisions on the use of those powers are made at the most immediate (or local) level, i.e. by constituent authorities, e.g. KCC)
Mr Love did not participate in the Committees agreement to note the response.