Venue: Meeting Room 9 - Level 3, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR. View directions
Contact: Jon Pitt, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Carr, Edwards, Lammas and Rupert Turpin.
To approve the Record of the Meeting held on 8 December 2022.
The record of the meeting held on 8 December 2022 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances
The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.
There were none.
Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct. Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 4.
Disclosable pecuniary interests
There were none.
Other significant interests (OSIs)
There were none.
Councillor Curry declared and interest in agenda item No.6 (Attendance of the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services) as he is the Chair of Medway Local Access Forum.
This report advises the Committee of petitions received by the Council which fall within the remit of this Committee including a summary of the responses sent to the petition organisers by officers.
Members considered a report which advised the Committee of petitions received by the Council which fell within the remit of the Committee, including a summary of the responses sent to the petition organisers by officers.
Two petitions had been referred to the Committee for consideration. The first petition referral related to speeding vehicles on the A2 Watling Street between the Star and Ash Tree pubs. It was requested that traffic calming measures be put in place to slow traffic in the area.
Councillor Purdy was invited to speak on behalf of the petitioners. She said that there was a significant problem with speeding in the area and that there had recently been a fatality. It was requested that electronic signage be installed in the area to make drivers aware of the 30mph speed limit.
In discussing the petition, the following responses were made to comments
Use of Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) – It was confirmed that installation of this type of sign was a possible outcome of the investigatory work would that would be undertaken at the location. The Council also had a mobile Speed Indicator Device which could be deployed there for a temporary period.
Signage and foliage – The signage used across Medway to highlight speed was being looked at and a commitment was given to investigate the section of Watling Street that had been highlighted by the petition. It was accepted that there was sometimes an issue of foliage obstructing signs and it would be ensured that signs were visible.
Date when action would be taken by – It was confirmed that the issues highlighted by the petition would be investigated during the current financial year and that feedback would be provided by the end of March 2023 to set out proposed action.
The second petition referral requested the establishment of a parking scheme for residents near the new St John Fisher school on City Way. Councillor Murray was invited to speak on behalf of the petitioners. She highlighted the need for a resident parking scheme to be established in the area as the opening of the school would have a significant impact on parking in the area. Her colleague had met with the parking design team in the previous week and work was being progressed. There were plans for a drop-in session with local residents, followed by a formal consultation. Council Murray thanked the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer for taking this work forward and recognised the work of officers.
a) The Committee noted the petition responses and appropriate officer action in paragraph 3 of the report.
b) The Committee considered the petition referral requests in paragraph 4 and the Director of Place and Deputy Chief Executive’s responses.
This report sets out progress made within the areas covered by the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe which fall within the remit of this Committee.
Members received an overview of progress on the areas of work within the terms of reference of this Committee and covered by the Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe, as set out below:
· Armed Forces Covenant
· Events and Festivals
· Leisure Services
· Sporting Legacy
· Theatres and Arts
The Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Services, Councillor Doe responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:
Splashes Leisure Centre, Hoo leisure provision and greenspaces funding – It was asked what the expected Council subsidy of the new Splashes Leisure Centre would be and what leisure provision was planned on the Hoo Peninsula. In relation to greenspaces. It was asked whether some of the income generated by events held on Council owned greenspaces could be used to contribute to the greenspaces budget. In response, the Portfolio Holder said that the exact amount of subsidy that Splashes would require had not been finalised but it was expected that an ongoing commitment would be needed as was the case for all Council run swimming pools. It was considered that the new pool would be well used by the local community. In relation to Hoo, the Portfolio Holder was looking to ensure that it had good leisure provision but that could not be delivered immediately as it was dependent on housing development. The Portfolio Holder did not consider that recharging income generated by events at greenspaces would be worthwhile and this was not something he was considering.
Rochester Post Office – Noting that Rochester Post Office was due to close at its current premises, it was asked whether the Council would support the Post Office to find alternate premises. The Portfolio Holder said it was important for a Post Office to be retained in Rochester and work was taking place to look at other premises, including whether the Post Office could be located at the Rochester Community Hub.
Leisure Provision, College of Art and Public Footways Officer – A Member asked whether there was confidence that the Council’s other four leisure centres could be maintained to an acceptable standard as Splashes was developed. It was also questioned how the Council could help to identify premises for the College of Art. The Member also asked why Medway did not have a dedicated Public Footways Officer.
The Portfolio Holder advised that the Council’s other leisure facilities would be maintained to the required standard and Members were encouraged to report any issues. He had met with the Head of Mid Kent College and considered that the College of Art would be a viable proposition. The Council would offer assistance where it could. Councillor Doe set out the current financial challenges and how they impacted on having a dedicated Public Footways Officer, but did not consider this to have had an impact on reported issues being addressed.
Twydall play schemes – A Member asked when Twydall would be added to the list of priority play ... view the full minutes text for item 524.
This report sets out a response to an issue, raised by Councillor Johnson, concerning road safety.
In accordance with Medway Constitution Overview and Scrutiny rules (Chapter 4, Part 5 Paragraph 9.1) Councillor Johnson had requested that this item be included on the agenda concerning road safety. This related to the effort and expense of the Deanwood Drive speed limit change, which had cost £18,000 to enable vehicles to travel at 40 mph legally for less than half a mile. Councillor Johnson considered that little attention had been given to road safety in Gillingham South.
In introducing his item, Councillor Johnson highlighted concerns of residents and Councillors about road safety in Gillingham South ward. These concerns related to Canterbury Street, Marlborough Road, Nelson Road, Duncan Road, Napier Road, Barnsole Road, Rock Avenue, Sturdey Avenue and Gillingham Road. Residents felt they lived in constant fear due to issues such as speeding traffic, obstructive parking and difficulty crossing roads. Peak traffic time could make these problems worse.
Councillor Johnson welcomed the offer made in the report for officers to meet him but said that he had previously raised many issues over a number of years. A petition had also recently been submitted to the Council in relation to speeding traffic in Gillingham Road. Although officers had responded to previous issues and mobile speed equipment had been deployed, Councillor Johnson considered that little else had changed. Officers had advised that the accident record did not warrant action, funds were limited and that they needed to be used in areas with the highest need. There was concern that a serious accident would be needed before action was taken and that local community intelligence was not being used effectively.
There had been a change in speed limit from 30mph to 40mph for a section of Deanwood Drive that was approximately half a mile long. There were 30mph sections at either end of this section. Councillor Johnson considered that this change had been illogical and had not warranted the £18,000 cost. He welcomed the offer that had been made of a meeting between him and officers and requested that the other ward Councillors for Gillingham South be invited to attend. Councillor Johnson hoped that this meeting would focus on the issues that he had raised and support the development an action plan.
In response, the Head of Transport and Parking said that it was anticipated that the speed limit change made on Deanwood Drive would promote wider speed limit compliance along the whole section of road, including the 30mph areas. Speed limits were kept under review and changes would be made where this supported safe road use. The Council had a statutory duty to prevent casualties. Decisions were predominantly data led and also in response to local community concerns. An example of a data driven scheme was a road safety scheme in Luton where significant investment had been made in road safety infrastructure. An example of a community concern scheme could be installation of vehicle activated speed warning signs and road markings.
A Member said that he was surprised that the change ... view the full minutes text for item 525.
This report is the third annual review to be reported to Overview and Scrutiny of the Highway Infrastructure Contract between Medway Council and Volker Highways. This report and the supporting appendix provide an annual review for Year 5 of the Contract Term, covering the period 1 August 2021 to 31 July 2022.
This report presented the annual review of the Highway Infrastructure Contract between Medway Council and VolkerHighways. This covered the period from August 2021 to July 2022. The contract had commenced in 2017 for an initial period of five years, with the possibility of five single year extensions, depending on performance. VolkerHighways had achieved the level required for a fourth year extension which meant that the contract was currently scheduled to end on 31 July 2025.
The following was discussed:
Pothole fixing, communication, low emission vehicles and contract extension – A Member asked how the fixing of potholes could ensure that further repairs were not needed and whether the methods used could be improved. They were also concerned about communication with residents ahead of road closures and co-ordination between organisations. It was also asked how the rollout of electric vehicles was progressing and whether extension of the contract was good value for the Council.
The Volker Highways representative said that the preferred method of pothole repair varied between local authority areas and that repairs had to be within available budgets. Where a repair was found to be defective this would be rectified at no cost to the Council. The use of electric vehicles was only currently considered viable for smaller vehicles due to the limited range of large vehicles, which decreased further during the winter. Alternative fuels were being investigated but there were challenges related to these. The Strategic Lead, Frontline Services said that there would be a particular effort to fix potholes over the next four to six weeks and that permanent fixes would be made where possible.
The Assistant Director, Frontline Services, acknowledged that communications were not always as good as they could be, particularly when emergency repairs needed to be undertaken. The Traffic Operations and Street Works Teams had been brought together and it was anticipated that this would help to improve communication. The existing contract had only been extended due to Key Performance Indicators having been met. Subject to the indicators being met, the existing contract could be extended to 2027 at the latest.
Permanency of repairs – in response to a question that asked what determined whether a repair made would be temporary or permanent, the VolkerHighways representative said that repairs that were undertaken as part of the planned programme of works would be permanent and that temporary repairs tended to be used where unexpected defects were identified.
Road and pavement repairs and gritting – It was suggested that a dedicated programme was needed to ensure that pavements were cleared of snow and gritted and that more attention was needed to pavement repairs. A section of City Way and some other local roads were highlighted as being in a poor state of repair. The amount of permanent repairs being undertaken and frequency at which temporary repairs became permanent was highlighted as being a concern. It was also asked how quickly priority 1 and priority 4 repairs would be carried out.
The Strategic Lead, Frontline ... view the full minutes text for item 526.
This report presents a new Highway Asset Management Policy and supporting Strategy. This will provide the Department for Transport (DfT) the necessary evidence of the Council’s commitment to asset management, in order to receive Incentive Funding. The Committee is asked to comment on the Policy and Strategy ahead of it being considered by Cabinet.
This report set out a new Highway Asset Management Policy and supporting Strategy. This would provide the Department for Transport (DfT) the necessary evidence of the Council’s commitment to asset management, in order to receive Incentive Funding. It was noted that the Policy and Strategy would replace existing documents.
A Committee Member acknowledged the need to produce such documents in order to receive funding, which he considered to be a tick box exercise. He expressed concern regarding the condition of some of the assets described in the Strategy and emphasised the need for increased funding. In relation to the major fault that had resulted in the closure of the Medway Tunnel, the Member questioned whether this could happen again and the viability of Medway Council continuing to manage the operation of the Tunnel.
In response, the Assistant Director, Frontline Services said that the Tunnel closure had lasted for 36 hours and had been necessary on safety grounds due to a failure of the system that managed fans, pumps and CCTV. This had been caused by an IT issue. A temporary repair had been made and following a recent planned closure, a permanent repair had been completed. This was the first time that such a closure had been necessary.
Going forward, £4.9 million of Department for Transport Challenge Fund had been secured to replace infrastructure in the Tunnel and additional funding had been secured in the last six months. The system that had caused the closure would be replaced.. There was ongoing dialogue between the Council and the Department of Transport and the Department was aware of the importance of the Tunnel to Medway and the wider region.
The Roads and Highways Consultant said that the development of the Highway Asset Management Strategy was not intended to be a simple tick box exercise. Implementation of the Strategy would help ensure that Medway complies with best practice. Medway would be committing itself to planning ahead and making a transparent commitment upon which it could be held to account.
It was asked whether additional funding for Medway was being requested from the DfT. The Strategic Lead Frontline Services said the DfT was well aware of the funding challenges and condition of the highway network across the country and that it had set aside the Incentive Fund to seek to address the issues.
The Committee supported the adoption of the new Highway Asset Management Strategy and Policy to help maintain a Band 3 Self-Assessment Score, which would continue to maximise the 100% level of capital funding that was currently secured through the DfT Incentive Fund.
The purpose of this report is to set out Transport for the South East’s (TfSE) work in preparing the Strategic Investment Plan (SIP). The SIP will be considered at a TfSE Partnership Board meeting in March 2023 before being submitted to Government. As one of 16 constituent authorities, the SIP needs to be considered by Cabinet on 7 February for approval before March 2023.
The Committee received a report that set out TfSE’s work in preparing the SIP. This set out a blueprint for investment in strategic transport infrastructure over the next 30 years.
The SIP was due to be considered at a TfSE Partnership Board meeting in March 2023 before being submitted to Government. As one of the 16 constituent authorities, the SIP needed to be agreed by Medway’s Cabinet. Should this not be agreed, the Council would not be able to support the SIP or be part of the submission to Government.
During discussion, a Committee Member said how important the development of a SIP and the issues that it covered were. This included the development of the road and rail network, active travel and how Medway connected to other areas. It was acknowledged that development of local infrastructure planning required integrated consideration of work taking place across the South East. The Member hoped that the Council would support the Plan.
Key concerns relating to Medway were emphasised by another Member. These included decarbonisation, and the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels across the South East, the need to reduce congestion and the potential adverse impact of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. The Member considered that the SIP covered the key infrastructure challenges.
A Member highlighted the proposed development of a Strood rail interchange and questioned whether the development of Hoo Peninsula passenger rail services was justified. This was because bus services to the interchange could provide better access to the Peninsula. Another Member referenced issues around availability of rural transport and older people not being able to use bus passes on early morning services.
The Committee considered the SIP, set out at Appendix 1 to the report, and agreed to forward comments to Cabinet.
This report concerns monitoring information prepared by the Planning Service to meet statutory requirements for publishing data on infrastructure. It presents the Infrastructure Funding Statement, which sets out details of funding agreed, received and spent through developer contributions, and proposed spend on infrastructure.
The Committee received a report setting out the Annual Infrastructure Funding Statement. This was being presented to the Committee as the Committee had previously requested that the document be reported to its next meeting following approval by Cabinet. The IFS provided details of funding agreed, funding received and spent and details of proposed spend.
A Member said that the report highlighted that S106 developer contributions would not be sufficient to provide the infrastructure needed for development in Medway. It was questioned why there had been an underspend and in relation to protection of bird habitats on the north Kent Marshes, the use of developer contributions for this purpose was welcome.
In response, the Head of Planning agreed that developer contributions did not provide sufficient funding to deliver the required infrastructure. Developer contributions would be reviewed as part of the Local Plan development. Associated viability assessments would be undertaken and early work suggested that developer contributions could be increased, particularly in relation to greenfield sites. There was a need to investigate other funding sources. The spending set out in the report was a snapshot in time and the contributions received were held until they were needed. In relation to bird habitats, the contributions helped to offset the impact of development and ensure that legal obligations were met.
With regards to the repayment of borrowing related to education, a Member asked whether interest payments could be recovered and how much the interest payments were in addition to the borrowing figure of £2.2million set out in the IFS. The Head of Planning undertook to investigate this and provide information to the Committee.
A Member asked whether in the event that a developer was not able to pay the originally anticipated level of S106 contribution, this meant that the contribution would not be made. The Head of Planning said that circumstances could change, particularly increased costs. This could result in a development no longer being viable, which could cause the development not to proceed or to not make payments. Depending on the circumstances and the benefit that the development would bring to Medway, consideration could be given to a reduced S106 contribution being agreed. This would be a decision for the Planning Committee. Developers had to provide evidence of affordability through a viability assessment which was independently checked and there was also an appeal process in place.
It was suggested by a Member that there should be more Member involvement in setting strategic parameters for priorities relating to the use of S106 funding. The Head of Planning said that the allocation of S106 funding was in accordance with the Developer Contributions Guide and that this was agreed by Members. Where a full contribution being made was not viable, how the funding was used would be a matter for the Planning Committee. Consideration could be given as to how to make clear what the S106 requests were.
A comment was made by a Member that in addition to the provision of affordable housing, it ... view the full minutes text for item 529.
This item advises Members of the current work programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities over the year.
The Committee agreed the proposed work programme, set out at Appendix A to the report.