(1) Mr Payne (Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport) gave a verbal update on the following issues:
a) Mr Payne reassured Members of the Committee that work continued at pace to deliver a facility at Sevington, Ashford, by Kent Highways on behalf of the Department of Transport for Her Majesty’s government to provide a forward processing centre for HMRC and others for the transition which was due to start on 1st January 2021. He added that the surfacing work at the site had already begun and this included the truck-paved parking bays and also the swing lanes which had resumed after the recent period of wet weather. Whilst the continuation of work on the site was weather-dependent, Kent County Council had been assured that HGVs would be able to use the site from 1st January 2021 and that HMRC would also be on site from that date.
b) Mr Payne announced that the sweeps on one of Kent County Council’s eight windmills had turned again under wind power for the first time since 1949, this was in the village of Chillenden and on 16th November 2020, the sweeps on the windmill in Cranbrook had been removed to enable a full evaluation of the required repairs.
c) Mr Payne sent his best wishes to the two officers within Kent Highways who had fallen ill as a result of Covid-19 and wished them both a speedy recovery. In addition, he thanked all of the Kent Highways staff who continued to work hard throughout the period of lockdown on behalf of all of the residents of Kent.
(2) Miss Carey (Cabinet Member for Environment) gave a verbal update on the following issues:
a) Miss Carey thanked Kent County Council’s staff for continuing to provide vital services to residents throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and in particular the Waste Management team for their hard work and resilience in implementing a number of major contracts that were due to be renewed. Miss Carey specifically referred to the smooth handover of a large number of Kent’s household waste and recycling centres to a new contractor.
b) Miss Carey announced that Kent County Council’s Energy team had won an award for the Sustainable Energy Project of the year for the project that they had led for Northfleet School for Girls in solar installation and LED lighting upgrade. Kent County Council had now engaged with over 100 of Kent’s schools in similar projects.
c) Miss Carey said the District Heating item had been deferred as the Energy team had only won a major grant from the Government for the scheme and BEIS wished to take the lead in announcing the details of this.
(3) Both Mr Payne and Miss Carey gave their best wishes to Mrs Cooper upon the announcement of her retirement plans for 2021. They both thanked her for her tireless work and dedication to the service over many years.
(4) Mrs Cooper (Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport) gave a verbal update on the following issues:
a) Mrs Cooper referred to the Brexit transition period on 1st January 2021 and said that Kent County Council continued to work closely with partners in districts, the Department for Transport, HMRC and Highways England on the granular detail of the plans. She said that a further all-Member briefing would take place on 1st December 2020 at 10:30am which would provide further information to Members in relation to the plans. She added that whilst Kent County Council were planning for the transition itself and potential spells of bad weather, there was also much work being undertaken with health colleagues in relation to Covid-19 and a possible vaccine roll-out.
(5) In response to a question, Mrs Cooper referred to a letter from Unite about their lack of involvement in discussions about facilities at the Sevington lorry park or other truck stops. She said that whilst Unite had not been involved in the discussions the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) had taken up the issues which related to the facilities on site at Sevington and Manston in particular to ensure that full medical and welfare facilities were available on both sites. The KRF had been fully supported by the Department of Health and Social Care in the provision of those facilities.
(6) In response to a question, Mr Payne referred to the potential of a new site at Dover and said that such a site would be part of Kent’s 200-day plan and not part of the 1st January transition plan.
(7) In response to a question, Mr Payne referred to Kent’s School Street Scheme and the early trial of the scheme in St Peters footway area, he said that the possibility for the support for something such as the 20mph scheme would be fully evaluated in due course.
(8) In response to a question, Mrs Cooper referred to the ongoing discussions between Kent, the Department for Transport and Highways England to ensure that Dover would be kept clear during transition as a live project which was supported by the local MP.
(9) In response to a question, Mrs Cooper referred to the Traffic Assessment Projects (TAP) A256 and A20 and said that these were the filters that lorries moved forward to and were then released down into the port of Dover. She said that because the lorries were released very quickly, there would be no toilet facilities. She added that discussions with borough councils in relation to parking, cleansing and litter issues continued to take place.
(10) The Chairman reiterated the comments which had been made by the Cabinet Members in relation to Mrs Cooper’s retirement. Members of the Committee supported this.
(11) RESOLVED that the verbal updates be noted.