KCC Member For Highways and Transport
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for
Highways and Transport in attendance to answer
questions about highways and transport work
within the Sevenoaks District.
The Chairman welcomed Cllr. David Brazier, the Kent County Council (KCC) Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport who gave a verbal update on the work carried out by Kent Highways.
Members were given an overview of the responsibilities within the KCC Portfolio. In terms of Highways assets and infrastructure, KCC looked after 4000 miles of footways and 5400 miles of road excluding motorways. The value of highways assets totaled over £24 million. The Highways Team had received 130,000 permit requests from Works and Utilities companies working on Highways.
KCC Highways also provided education, advice and training for 160,000 road users annually and managed a capital programme valued at £275million. The Team oversaw approximately 100 bus routes across the County and issued over 25,000 concessionary travel passes for children and 230 concessionary travel passes for the elderly and disabled with a revenue budget of £65million. Various schemes provided transport for 11,000 school children across the County.
Members took the opportunity to ask questions. Members raised concerns regarding parking in the District. The Cabinet Member encouraged Members to write to him with their specific concerns and he would respond.
Members asked questions regarding local Bus schemes. As providing certain Health and Social Care services was a statutory duty, KCC had made savings to discretionary services which involved withdrawing support for 36 bus services saving up to £2.4 million. Operators had also found that passenger levels were at 75% of their pre-pandemic levels and services had also suffered with the spiraling costs of diesel and a lack of drivers. The largest effect was felt on bus routes for school children. As a result, Transport funds had been used to provide substitute services in the district. Members thanked the KCC Cabinet Member for the substitute services that were implemented. Members were also advised of the Kent Karrier service which was a dial-a-ride service that included disabled access. The service costs had also spiraled but KCC believed that maintaining the service was imperative. Members discussed the bleak outlook on the Bus services.
Following questions on the winter service, Members were advised that KCC also provided a winter snow plow service which was valued by residents and would remain regularised throughout the coming winter. Members discussed the usefulness of previous information leaflets which had provided local maps of gritting plans and had been published in each Parish. The Cabinet Member would investigate the possibility of providing local maps of the winter service. He also advised that a detailed map was available on the KCC website. Members asked questions of clarification on drainage ditches and the utility of using local farmers’ tractors to plow snow. Members were encouraged to contact the Cabinet Member should they know of rural roads that required the winter Service. Some Members also highlighted the success of neighbouring Council schemes including a volunteer snow-plow service.
Members discussed the Kent Karrier service and suggested the benefits of a community led service. The Cabinet Member confirmed that funding had been received to spend on voluntary and community transport and KCC would be willing to support such a scheme and would be happy to discuss the opportunity, however suggested that previous similar schemes had only been moderately successful as volunteers had not always been willing to commit the time required. Central Government had instigated a Bus Service Improvement Plan which it was hoped would encourage operators to create a sustainable programme. However, due to budget cuts, rural bus schemes had been difficult to support.
Members asked questions regarding the out of hours Highway service provided by contractors Amey. Concern was raised regarding problems with outsourcing the service to staff with limited local knowledge which it was believed caused confusion and undermined the usefulness of the service. Members also highlighted problems with waiting times. The Cabinet Member had held discussions with the contractors and would raise the additional problems.
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for his attendance and co-operation.