This report sets out progressmade within the areas covered by the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services which fall within the remit of this Committee.
Members received an overview of progress on the areas within the terms of reference of this Committee and covered by the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services as set out below:
· Street Lighting
· Public Transport
· Waste Collection/Recycling/Waste Disposal and Street Cleaning
· Traffic Management
· Transport Strategy
· Travel Safety.
The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, Councillor Filmer, responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:
· Provision of clear recycling bags – In response to a concern that there appeared to be a shortage of clear recycling sacks and the number of sacks provided in rolls to residents had been reduced in number, the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services advised that there had been a shortage of recycling bags and therefore the quantity of bags supplied in rolls may have been reduced as a result.
· Deep cleanse of Chatham High Street – The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that the deep cleanse of Chatham High Street had been undertaken in 2018/19 to remove any residue that could not be removed through normal street cleansing operations. He noted the possible need for a further deep cleanse.
· Scrutiny of Volker Highways – A Member referred to the 5 year Highway contract and suggested that this Committee be provided with an opportunity to scrutinise Volker’s fulfilment of this contract along similar lines to scrutiny of the Waste Contract. In response, the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that Volker Highways were already scrutinised as part of their contract with the Council and that this process was open and transparent.
· Gully Cleansing – A Member expressed concern about the level of gully cleansing, in particular, in Gillingham. In response, the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that gully cleansing had been increased in the area of Luton in recognition that this area had been susceptible to flash floods and he suggested that the Member concerned provide him with information as to those Gillingham streets that he considered required additional gully cleansing and he would arrange for this to be carried out.
The Chairman advised that the issue of gully clearance in Gillingham had arisen during discussions concerning car parking in this area and it was suggested that any Councillor having concerns regarding gully clearance in their Ward should contact either the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services or the Assistant Director Front Line Services to request additional gully cleansing.
· Provision of electric vehicle charging points via street lighting columns – In response to a request as to why Medway was not progressing the provision of electric car charging points in street lighting columns, the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services advised that the Council was in the process of investigating the provision of LED street lighting and it was at this time that the provision of electric charging points in street lamp columns could be considered.
· Carriageway and footway resurfacing - The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that carriageway and footway resurfacing schemes were selected based on condition survey data and prioritised according to the Local Transport Plan allocation for Highway Maintenance from the Department of Transport.
· Shortfall in parking income – A Member expressed concern that that the Portfolio Holder’s report did not make reference to the £1.8 million shortfall in parking income. In response, the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services advised that there had been a number of reasons why this predicted income target had not been achieved. There had not been an increase in parking charges in Medway for some time and, after introducing an uplift in parking charges, unfortunately the predicted increase in income had not materialised. In addition, the level of income from parking fines had decreased in 2018/19 and, additional security had been provided which had been funded from parking income. He assured the Committee that there was no loss of funds but that the income received had not achieved the levels targeted.
· Use of smartphones to pay for parking charges – A Member sought clarification that the Council would continue to offer alternative methods of paying for car parking charges in recognition that not everyone had a smartphone. The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services advised upon the statistics of those using the Ringo app for parking both at commuter car parks and at other sites throughout Medway and he confirmed that the Council was investigating the provision of dual car parking machines which accepted cash, credit cards and Ringo payments. He also advised that signs at car parks should now clearly state a telephone number to ring if the parking machine was not operational.
· Recycling rates – A Member asked why the Council’s recycling rates had been at 42 – 43% for several years without showing an increase despite the weekly recycling collection service. In response, the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services advised that the recycling figures reflected national statistics. He advised that in 2010, 50% of household refuse had gone into landfill but that this had now reduced to 10%.
· VE Day celebrations – The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that the Council had sufficient staffing to process applications for VE Day celebration street parties.
· Graffiti in urban areas – The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services advised that the Council had recently acquired a new graffiti removal machine.
· Staff transferring to Medway Norse and TUPE protection – The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that staff transferring from Veolia to Medway Norse would have full protection of their rights under TUPE.
· Provision of cycle routes in Medway – The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that the Head of Integrated Transport had been actively involved in increasing provision of cycle routes in Medway. He advised that the provision of cycling routes and cycle facilities were now considered as part of the planning application process. In addition, there would be new provision for cycling at Chatham Station.
· Recycling of furniture – The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services advised that the Medway Norse had established arrangements with a company to recycle furniture but if other companies were willing to provide this service, Medway Norse would welcome contact information.
· Transport Strategy – Provision of commuter rail service – A Member referred to the need to engage with the Department for Transport for improved provision of rail services for commuters, many of whom had to stand on trains for the full 50 minute journey to London. The Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services confirmed that in the next month, along with officers, he was hoping to meet with the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss funding for the Medway Tunnel and the issue of rail services would be included in discussions.
The Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder for attending the meeting and answering questions and noted that:
a) a gully cleansing schedule will be circulated to all Members of the Committee.
b) in the light of the delayed announcement of the rail franchise in the South East, the Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services and officers will make representations to the Secretary of State for Transport concerning the rolling stock and the capacity of rail services from Medway to London.