Tony Harwood (Resilience and Emergency Planning Manager) and Louise Butfoy (Resilience and Emergency Planning Project Officer) were in attendance for this item.
1. Mrs Hohler (Deputy Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services) introduced the report that set out Kent County Council’s Flood Response Emergency Plan. The report outlined the scope and ambition of the latest updates and sought input from Members of the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee prior to Cabinet Member sign-off of the Flood Response Emergency Plan.
2. Supplementary to the above, Mr Harwood informed the Committee that revisions to the Flood Response Emergency Plan addressed both current and projected climate change impacts for Kent as identified within the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017, the impact of flooding on vulnerable people and communities and reaffirmed Kent County Councils leadership role as a ‘Category 1 Responder’ (as defined within the Civil Contingencies Act 2004) in the event of coastal, fluvial and surface water flooding. Mr Harwood noted that the sign-off of the Emergency Plan was key as it affected all divisions in the County and, subject to endorsement by the Committee, would act as the overarching policy guidance for KCC flood response interventions. Mr Harwood thanked all officers and Members who had contributed to the development of the revised plan and welcomed comments from the Committee.
3. Officers responded to comments and questions as follows:
(a) Mr Jones (Director of Highways and Transportation and Waste) responded to Members comments and recognised that drainage problems needed to be addressed with immediate effect. A number of pilots had been initiated, including the instalment of smart gullies, which monitored drainage and alerted services to any blockages, KCC also led a trial activity on how it allocated funding to improve pre-inspection work to better understand where officers needed to be deployed as a priority and to ensure that the money spent on preventative maintenance work was appropriate and justified. Mr Jones assured Members that Kent County Council was working with all District Councils to implement a new regime which would result in a significant dividend to KCC. Mr Jones recognised the wider challenge around drainage and water management infrastructure and assured Members that work would continue to be done to understand and improve the critical drainage assets.
(b) Mr Harwood noted the omission of the non-tidal boat stationed at Tonbridge and agreed to update the appended table accordingly.
(c) Mr Jones assured the Committee that a significant amount of work continued to be undertaken to identify critical drainage areas and to understand the process for managing those with a view to finding alternative solutions. KCC had also held a number of seminars with District and Parish Councils to better understand planned activities and to ensure that KCC’s plans corresponded to the District and Parish Council planned activities i.e. the harvest period. Mr Jones informed the Committee that a significant amount of work had been done to map the drainage network and that KCC continued to uncover drains that had failed to be transferred over from District records which exposed soakaways and lagoons that were not mapped historically. Mr Jones reaffirmed his confidence in the improved asset portfolio and KCCs improved approach to managing critical assets.
4. It was RESOLVED that the proposed decision (19/00086) to be taken by the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services to approve the scope and content of the updated KCC Flood Response Emergency Plan, be endorsed.