Venue: Room B12, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR
Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for Absence.
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Ben Moussa (DBC) and Sandhu (KCC).
With the agreement of all Members present, the Vice-Chairman Councillor Brian Garden (DBC) assumed control of the proceedings in the absence of the Chairman Cllr. Kite (KCC).
The Acting Chairman welcomed the remote participation of KCC’s Fastrack Development Manager and the District Manager for Dartford & Gravesham, and noted the presence of the Council’s Principal Transport Planner to respond to Members’ questions and areas of concern.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any).
There were no declarations of interest.
That the minutes of the Board meeting held on 6 December 2022 be confirmed as accurate, with the addition of Councillor Kelly Grehan (KCC) to the list of attendees.
The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.
The Acting Chairman advised that there were no urgent items for the Board to consider.
References from other Committees (if any)
There are presently no references from other Committees for Members to consider.
The Clerk confirmed that there were no references from other Committees in the agenda.
Acting Chairman's Update
A verbal update will be provided, at the Chairman’s request, on the following items: -
The Acting Chairman advised that he would update Members as required/necessary following the Fastrack Update from the KCC Fastrack Development Manager [Min. No. 48 refers].
Update on Fastrack & Local Bus Services
To receive a verbal update from Mr Shane Hymers, KCC Transport Manager.
The Board received a verbal update [via Teams] from KCC’s Fastrack Development Manager (FDM), Shane Hymers, concerning present and future Fastrack provision, together with associated bus services currently provided by Arriva in North West Kent.
The FDM informed the Board that the bidding process for the new electrified Fastrack service had now closed, but without a bid being submitted from the current Fastrack provider Arriva. However, KCC had received strong bids from three (3) other national operators and were confident that the Fastrack service would continue in the future.
KCC had been surprised by Arriva’s decision not to bid for the new electrified Fastrack service, and were seeking assurances from the company that Arriva would continue to operate Fastrack under its current extended contract, until the electrical phase opened under a new operator in 2024.
An added concern was that Arriva’s withdrawal from the next electrified stage of Fastrack could impact on the company’s intentions to continue with the other routes it currently operates in NW Kent, with no obvious local operator to replace Arriva on those routes.
The Acting Chairman, together with several Council and KCC Members expressed their surprise at Arriva’s unexpected decision not to bid for the new electrified Fastrack service, and the negative implications that decision held for the other associated bus services Arriva currently ran in NW Kent.
The FDM noted Members’ concerns, in particular over the continued provision of Arriva’s non-Fastrack services in North West Kent.
Members were informed that vehicle procurement for the new Fastrack service remained on course for a September 2024 start-up including vehicles meeting KCC’s premium model, or alternative options to a lesser standard.
However, there had been snags with the electrical infrastructure for the new Fastrack scheme, and the contract for it was now out to open tender, with the successful infrastructure bidder expected to fulfil the contract by December 2024. Delay to the electrical infrastructure for Fastrack meant that there could be a potential 6-9 month delay to the operation of the electric fleet. Thus a need for a temporary arrangement that might create a possible interim break-up of Fastrack in its current guise.
The Acting Chairman, with the unanimous agreement of the Board, proposed that he write to the KCC Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr. David Brazier with the Board’s concerns.
Post Meeting Note
The Board Vice-Chairman, Cllr. Brian Garden, has written formally to the KCC Transport Cabinet Portfolio Holder, Cllr. David Brazier with the Boards concerns regarding continued bus services for Dartford residents.
KCC Roads Update
To receive a verbal update from Mr Kevin Gore, KCC District Manager.
The Board considered a tabled update report from the KCC District Manager which summarised the Highway Services Forward Works Programme for the current 2022/23 and ensuing 2023/24 annual cycles.
Kevin Gore apologised for the late delivery of his report due to an administrative oversight, and advised of a delay to the scheduled resurfacing works on the A296 at Princes Road/Park Road to Junction 1a programmed for 28 March 2023. However, the programmed resurfacing works on the A206 at Bob Dunn Way remained as scheduled for 2 and 8 June 2023 [report Appendix A refers].
In response to two specific enquiries from the Shadow Leader of the Council [in attendance as a KCC Member], the District manager advised that:
(i) Thames Water were aware of the need to remove surface water to resolve the flooding issues near Marsh Street North Roundabout [report Appendix B refers];
(ii) He would revert direct to the Member with details of the KCC Highways Officer responsible for the faulty traffic lights on Central Road and the proposal for a new footway/cycleway and bell mouth access [report Appendix E ref. DA3037 refers].
In the absence of any other specific questions, the Board noted the contents of the update report from the KCC District Manager with their thanks.
Members Enquiry Items
Members have the opportunity to raise specific Ward matters that have remained unresolved with KCC for one or more quarters.
Given the presence of the KCC District Manager [remotely via Teams], several Board Members took the opportunity to pursue Ward topics which remained unresolved following previous bi-lateral discussions with individual KCC Officers.
The District Manager advised the Board that his Dartford Team had been down 1 (one) engineer since December 2022 and was now down 2 (two) engineers as of March 2023. He regretted that those continuing staff absences had inevitably caused delay in responding to individual Members, including an email response he had just despatched to Cllr. Julie Ozog that afternoon with his apologies.
In so far as he was aware of the detail of individual Ward issues being taken forward by his Dartford Team, the District Manager confirmed the following points, and undertook to get back to individual Members with updates on topics he was not personally aware of:
· West Hill School Zebra Crossing and Zig Zag lines: Works Order for re-painting now issued;
· A West Hill Improvement Team meeting had now been arranged with Cllr. Jan Ozog KCC, to address, inter-alia, lighting at Shepherds Lane and the addition of bollards at the West Hill Roundabout;
· A site meeting was confirmed with Cllr. Cole KCC and Officers at Ronan’s View to consider the double-height kerb issue.
Concerning the Borough and Kent-wide issue of Salt Bins, including filling, securing and the provision of additional bins, the District Manager gave the following advice to the Board:
· The provision and filling of salt bins was a Kent-wide issue which KCC was reviewing on a case by case basis, including how often individual bins were used/needed filling;
· As a public provision, bins could not be locked and as a result the entire contents were frequently stolen;
· Ward Members could meet the costs of additional bins via a Members’ Grant if they perceived a Ward need, whilst KCC continued its County-wide review of salt bin provision and use;
· Additional bins purchased via the Members’ Grant Scheme attracted three initial salt loads, and would be filled thereafter by KCC on a needs basis.
Members thanked the District Manager for his updates and responses to their ongoing concerns.
Lower Thames Crossing Update
To receive a verbal update from the Council’s Principal Transport Planner.
The Principal Transport Planner advised Members that Dartford Council continued to maintain its strong support for the scheme [since February 2016], for a new road crossing of the River Thames linking Kent (A2/M2) to Essex through Thurrock (A13) – the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC).
The Council continued to engage with Kent County Council (KCC) as the pertinent highway authority for the Dartford area, through ongoing discussions on modelling issues for both the construction and operational phases of the LTC, in particular, the Crossing’s potential traffic impacts and proposed mitigations for strategic road network across Kent when the Crossing became operational.
Specific progress to date and next steps included:
· 31/10/22 - National Highways (NH) submission of their DCO application version 2 to the Planning Inspectorate (PI);
· 16/11/22 - Officers submitted a letter of adequacy of consultation as requested by the PI;
· 30/11/22 - PI accepts DCO submission and confirms receipt of all relevant documents;
· 24/2/23 - DBC submits Relevant Representation and confirmation as an interested party reiterating support for the project, but requests closer engagement with NH, including construction and scheme monitoring on traffic flow and air quality, especially at Dartford Tunnel crossing approach and the & A282 corridor, a key area for Dartford Council;
· Planning Inspectorate (PI) yet to announce the Examination period and Hearing dates(s) and had 6 (six) months to do so;
· If the DCO application is granted, construction is planned between January 2025 and December 2030 with the project becoming operational in 2031.
The Council and KCC had requested air quality monitoring at relevant locations in Kent including Junctions 1A and 1B. A response was awaited from National Highways, whose traffic flow monitoring is proposed to apply for one year prior to scheme opening, and one year and five years after scheme has opened. Monitoring is currently not identified before and during construction period.
Parking Schemes Update
To receive a verbal update from the Council’s Principal Transport Planner.
The Principal Transport Planner (PTP) advised Members of the following progress in relation to proposed parking schemes in the Borough:
DTC Parking Study - West Hill / Town Wards area - Sub Zone 1
· As part of the Parking Study, consultation had been carried out for the West Hill/Town Wards area (sub Zone 1) between 11 July and 22 August 2022;
· The results of that consultation had been presented to Cabinet on 23/2/23, with Cabinet approving the recommendations to progress to the next stage of the Parking Study for sub-zone 1 [Cabinet Min. No. 104 refers];
· At the same meeting Cabinet had also approved the amendment of all parking bays to controlled permit parking bays in Anne of Cleves Road, in response to the long-standing parking issues in that road. The proposed changes in Anne of Cleves Road will align with the existing hours of control which apply Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm. [Min. No. 104];
· Officers would now progress the statutory consultation for the proposed changes in Anne of Cleves Road under delegated powers, with residents of the road consulted by the end of March 2023.
Minor Parking DTC Parking Schemes to be progressed under delegated powers
· Foxwood Road/Beacon Drive – introduction of double yellow lines at junction [by request via local Ward Councillor];
· Lingfield Avenue Way/Fairway Drive – introduction of double yellow lines at junction [by request via local Ward Councillor];
· Warwick Way off Hawley Road – introduction of double yellow lines at junction [by request via local Ward Councillor];
· Oakwood Close – painting of the yellow lines had now been completed.
In response to an expression of concern from the Acting Chairman, over unacceptable levels of litter alongside the A2 and A282, the PTP advised that Highways England [the responsible authority], undertook litter picking as part of their regular roads maintenance programme. However, he would raise the issue with HE on behalf of the JTB.
The following document(s) are attached for Members information: -
§ Environment, Highways and Waste Cabinet Committee – Minutes
§ KCC Highways Improvements Advisory Notice [printed separately]
NB: If a Member wishes to discuss any of these items at the meeting, please advise the Member Services Section (01322) 343276 prior to the meeting.
It was noted that Councillor Avtar Sandhu [not present] is the Dartford Representative on the KCC Environment & Transport Board, and that a cross-party member group would be formed to investigate ways of funding and operating more effective, better value bus services. To ensure proactive ‘Dartford based’ input to this working group, the Board asked Councillor Sandhu to make best efforts to become a member of that working group, and that the Vice-Chairman should contact him on this matter.
1. That the Board notes the published minutes for the KCC Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee meeting held on 8 November 2022 [agenda pages 13-22 refer];
2. That the Board notes the contents of the tabled document from Councillor David Brazier, KCC Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport addressed to all Kent JTB’s, outlining the role played by KCC in the highways aspects of planning applications.